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AUBG Salutes Class of 2017 at the 23rd Commencement Ceremony

May 22, 2017

Bachelor degree candidates from 17 countries received their diplomas from the American University in Bulgaria on May 21. A total of 23 EMBA students also graduated from AUBG’s Sofia-based program.  

Former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria John Beyrle (2005 – 2008) greeted the AUBG Class of 2017. “I want to thank the University for offering me this opportunity to return to Bulgaria for the first time in almost ten years.  During my tenure as American Ambassador, I made countless visits to AUBG, both to this campus and the Elieff Center in Sofia.  These were almost never short ‘drop-by’ visits.  I always tried to take advantage of the unique character of this institution to speak with and to listen to the diverse range of nationalities and faiths and political views that has always been the strength and the treasure of AUBG.  And I always came away from those discussions feeling enlightened and greatly inspired,” Beyrle said.

“I believe that AUBG is the most important and enduring legacy of the partnership between Bulgaria and the United States over the past 25 years.  It is a unique and proud symbol of our shared support for freedom and democracy in the Balkans, and beyond,” the former ambassador added.   

“It is always a pleasure to visit AUBG, but today I feel that special excitement, a sense of pride. It is well deserved. Your hard work, commitment, and perseverance over the past several years carried you over many challenges,” the Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Sofia Martina Strong addressed the graduating class.

“And as you move forward, beyond today’s important milestone, please remember the importance of giving and of service.  In the same way that your parents, teachers, and mentors have helped you – help others.  Be the person who helps others climb the ladder of success. Contribute to your community. Teach, mentor, guide, volunteer, serve, be generous.  I know you will achieve great things, and you will help others do so as well,” Strong added.

This year’s valedictorian is Stefan Ivanov from Sliven with a GPA of 4.00. Ivanov is graduating with a double major in mathematics and computer science. Class of 2017 has two salutatorians – Aleks Angelov from Gabrovo and Desislava Valkova from Berkovitsa. Angelov is graduating with a double major in computer science and economics and Valkova has majored in business administration and information systems and minored in economics.

“My plea is to those of you wondering whether to emigrate and even to those who have already made this decision. Think of how much your home countries have given you. Remember all the pleasant memories of your childhood. Think of your families and friends. Do you not want to give something back? The developed world does not need your help. It will do fine without you. But you are the brightest minds of your nations. If you do not help them, who would,” said Angelov, who was also the senior speaker.

The outstanding EMBA student, Daniela Arabadzhiyska, key account manager at Procter & Gamble, also stressed on the importance of challenging oneself, remaining open-minded and passionate throughout one’s life and career. “I wish for you the courage to find what and who you love and stick to that,” was part of her message to the graduating class.

About half of the graduates are Bulgarian and the rest come from countries such as USA, Georgia, Russia, Albania, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. A total of sixty-five per cent of AUBG students graduate with two majors – an opportunity that the liberal arts education system gives them. Business Administration is the most popular among them, followed by Economics, Political Science, Journalism and Mass Communication and Information Systems.

Story by Despina Koleva-Hristova

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