Kristina Popova ’10: The Tchaprachikoff Scholarship Empowered Me!

The Tchaprachikoff scholarship transformed attending Stanford University from a far-fetched dream to an achievable goal for Kristina Popova. The 2010 AUBG graduate gained admission to one of the world’s most selective schools before she completed her bachelor’s degree, and with the support of the Tchaprachikoff fund she is scheduled to earn her MA in International Policy Studies from the Ivy League school’s Ford Dorsey Program in 2012. 

“I feel empowered, optimistic and infinitely grateful!” Kristina says about the scholarship, which AUBG administers.

Kristina’s personal empowerment began at AUBG, a place that helped her mature intellectually and grow as a person. She completed two demanding majors at the University – in Political Science and International Relations and in European Studies – earning honors in the latter for completing a senior thesis. The quality of Kristina’s work was recognized by the Mid-West Political Science Association, who invited the AUBG graduate to present her research at their 68th annual undergraduate research conference in Chicago in April 2010.

Kristina was not only a gifted student; she was also an active member of the university community. She believes that “AUBG takes education out of the classroom” and that participating in extracurricular activities is as important as excelling academically. Kristina worked as a resident assistant, actively participated in Student Ambassadors club, served as a student representative to the Political Science/European Studies Department, and represented the University at Model United Nations conferences in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Kostanz, Germany. In her sophomore year, Kristina was nominated for the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Award and won a national competition to represent Bulgaria as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations in 2009. Kristina’s co-curricular pursuits convinced her that “hard work pays off and that active involvement carries an important educational value and learning extends from the classroom to daily interactions, group activities and midnight snacks with roommates!”

On AUBG’s residential campus, Kristina lived and made friends with students from 40 countries. In addition to the educational benefits of learning with talented people from a variety of backgrounds, the experience made her a more cosmopolitan and tolerant person. “AUBG helped shape my character,” she says.

Kristina (middle) and friends at the Commencement Ceremony in May 2010

The University also helped her chart a career plan. Initially, it gave her the freedom to explore various subjects before she firmly settled on a field of study. “The diverse range of courses I took enabled me to examine different options for further development and finally decide that I would like to complete a master’s degree and pursue a career in international security organizations,” Kristina says.

Her professors’ support and encouragement were crucial in creating a solid educational experience. In European Studies Professor Cosmina Tanasoiu, she encountered a mentor and a guide through the complex maze of political theory and European Union institutions. After her first class with Professor Tanasoiu, Introduction to European Integration, Kristina was converted. “The class reaffirmed my interest in European affairs and determined my major in European Studies,” Kristina remembers. Professor Tanasoiu’s engrossing teaching methods that challenge students to think critically and friendly advice as Kristina researched graduate school options were indispensable in taking the AUBG alumna where she is today.

Among the benefits of studying at AUBG, Kristina lists: the opportunity to learn under the guidance of competent faculty, the excellent career paths open to graduates of the University, the supportive alumni network, and the multinational student community where friendships are forged that transcend linguistic and national boundaries. “Without any reservations I whole-heartedly recommend AUBG to young people in search of an engaging and challenging environment, diverse student body and excellent academic preparation,” Kristina says on leaving AUBG and embarking on an exciting new phase of her life, made possible thanks to the generosity of Anna Tchaprachikoff.

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