2001 Graduate Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Kazakhstan: I Will Always Be an AUBG-er

Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova’s professional journey started thirteen years ago at the American University in Bulgaria, where she served the community by publishing a campus news bulletin. Today, she tries to make the world a better place by working as a Research Associate and Adjunct Faculty at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, the United States.

The 2001 graduate says the comprehensive nature of the AUBG education widened her professional and academic horizons. Moreover, at AUBG she learnt multitasking and the value of public service: While completing a double major in Journalism and American Studies, Gaukhar also made time to launch and edit FlashNews, the first entirely online-based AUBG student publication.

At AUBG Gaukhar also learnt to appreciate diversity. “In the United States people have to study ‘intercultural communication,’ learn that the world is big and diverse, at AUBG, we lived, rather than studied, the multicultural, multilingual life,” she says. “We learned each other’s languages without taking classes, mixing our cultural backgrounds with new and different ways of thinking, and in the global marketplace today, this is one of our great advantages.” At college, Gaukhar became fluent in Serbian and Bulgarian in addition to speaking several other languages.

With officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency

Professionally, her four years in Blagoevgrad meant “practically everything,” Gaukhar says. “The skills, the knowledge, the experience, the motivation I got at the university defined who I was professionally and personally.”

Her AUBG experience helped her get a job as an account manager at McCann-Erickson in 2001 and as Media and Outreach Officer in the United Nations Development Program in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2005. Working for the UN encouraged her to start an MA in International Policy Studies with a Certificate in Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. While studying Gaukhar also served at the Center as a Graduate Research Assistant and obtained a position as a junior officer in the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs in New York City. After completing her MA degree, she continued working for the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and represented her home country Kazakhstan in the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

At a wine-tasting with other AUBG graduates in Sonoma County, California, the US

Her fondest AUBG memories are connected to people though: favorite professors who mentored her and dear friends who helped her grow as a person. “There were many other important experiences, lessons, and people before and after my life in Bulgaria, but I spent the defining years there, made the best friends, and will always be an AUBG-er.”

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