Gorica Atanasova, Class of 2004: AUBG Is Magic I Am Thankful for Every Day

Gorica Atanasova belongs to that group of graduates who chose to go back to their home countries and work for the wellbeing of their societies. Upon the completion of her MA degree in European Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Warsaw, she returned to Macedonia ready to start working and contributing to the process of European integration of her country. She got her first official work experience as General Secretariat of the Government in the public administration reform.

“However, my enthusiasm and desire to be engaged more closely in the process of EU integration led me to the Sector for European Integration in the Ministry of Justice,” she says. Currently, the 2004 AUBG graduate is an Assistant to the Minister for European Integration at the Macedonian Ministry of Justice. Before that she was involved in several NGOs such as the Youth Cultural Center in Bitola and Young European Federalists – Macedonia.

Gorica sees her work at the Ministry as “an extremely valuable learning experience.” Part of her duties there are preparation and analysis of materials and writing of speeches in the field of justice, judicial reform and alignment with EU and NATO standards, communication with representatives from EU, NATO and other Macedonian and international institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Secretariat for EU Affairs as well as with representatives from USAID, OSCE, SOROS and other structures. She is in charge of the comprehensive preparation of the Minister in EU, UN and Council of Europe forums, defense of reports, as well as preparation and coordination of visits of high representatives of these institutions.

She also accompanies the Minister and assists him in initiating EU relevant bilateral meetings and lobbying activities related to the integration processes in the area of Justice. “I was able to travel to various places and represent Macedonia at the Council of Europe Venice Commission, EU and Western Balkans Ministers of Justice meeting, defend reports at the UN Human Rights Committee, and participate at a NATO meeting on Prime Ministerial level,” she says.

For Gorica a normal day at work is hectic, quite busy and definitely longer than 8 hours. “Yet, it is quite fulfilling and extremely valuable because I have been able to acquire immense practical knowledge and engage in activities that involve diplomacy and interaction with relevant international institutions,” she says.

Coping with stress and overload was one of the useful skills Gorica acquired at AUBG. “The first thing that comes to my mind is definitely the ability for multitasking – to be able to grasp and do several things simultaneously and then to rise above a situation and see the ‘whole picture,’ Gorica explains. At the University she trained her ability to work under pressure, her ability for teamwork; and at the same time AUBG shaped her individual leadership skills such as critical thinking, reliability, and presentational skills. “Another skill, which does not always turns out to be positive, is to work on a deadline schedule--at times I might procrastinate until the D-day but eventually get the work done with a bit more stress and adrenaline,” she laughs.

Her coming to AUBG is a consequence of a chain of fortunate events. “The way AUBG happened to me is a sort of magic and mystery for which I am thankful until this day,” Gorica shares. She was going through her exchange year in Florida where she graduated on an Open Society funded scholarship when her mother told her about AUBG. She applied but after the scholarship deadline which was the only way for her to get to the University. Then, a day before she was leaving for Sofia to take the entry exams for the University of International Relations and Diplomacy, a letter came saying that she was granted full four-year funding by the New Opportunity Grant. “This scholarship definitely set the course my life was going to take... I am grateful and feel that I have been blessed!”

Initially, she came to AUBG with the intention to study English language and literature but she ended up with a double major in Political Science/International Relations and European Studies. “I was quite satisfied with the type of education offered at AUBG - the combination of general education and focused studies, as well as the possibility for students to discover themselves as they go through their courses and combine majors as they advance in their studies,” she explains. Another positive aspect for her development was the chance to attend various summer schools and conferences.

In 2004 Gorica graduated Magna Cum Laude due to her excellent GPA and the successful completion of the optional Senior Thesis that she did with Professor Cosmina Tanasoiu. As a student, she participated in many activities that gave her confidence that she could make a difference including the Constitutional Convention in Fredonia, New York at the EUROSIM 2003; she was co-founder and Vice-President of the European Youth Movement Chapter at AUBG and was project assistant in the two-day Conference on Balkans and EU held at AUBG in 2004.

To the students who are still at the University she says: “Make the best you can out of AUBG! Do not miss out on anything, study hard, party, make friends, fall in love. One day, way  in the future, when you get confused and polluted with politics, do not forget that it is all just a social construct and you can do better than that! Because you have done it and you will do it again! And just glimpse back to that corner in your heart where the memory of AUBG is forever indented…”

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