Mariela Latinova: 'AUBG gives me an opportunity to know myself better'
Mariela Latinova is a junior at AUBG majoring in Economics & Political Science and International Relations and minoring in German language and culture. An ambitious, responsible and highly organized person, Mariela is a member of Team Europe Junior and has visited the European Parliament twice. In addition to her many academic achievements, Latinova always finds time for her hobbies – playing tennis, hiking and travelling. The AUBG student from Blagoevgrad is eager to learn new foreign languages and develop her skills in order to achieve her dream to work in the European Commission.
What are the three most important things you believe the AUBG community should know about you?
First of all, my name is Mariela Latinova and I’m a junior majoring in Economics & Political Science and International Relations and minoring in German language and culture. I believe that I’m highly organized, ambitious and responsible person.
Why did you choose to study Political Science and International Relations & Economics at AUBG?
I decided to pursue a career in these fields because I’ve always been interested in the economic processes as well as the political situation worldwide. Also, I want to get a deeper understanding of economic phenomena. Economists are impressive people because of their skills and because they can explain why economic events occur and how economic performance might improve and achieve new and better results. AUBG gives me an opportunity to know myself better.
How do you combine these two subjects?
I think that they complement each other extremely well. By combining majors in Economics & Political Science and International Relations, students gain an integrative perspective, which is important to understanding both economic and political issues. I believe that Economics is guided by Politics for securing the right economic policies.
When did you become interested in the European Union?
I was 14 years old and my initial interest in politics was initiated by my father and grandfather. We always discuss the current global issues and share our views. Although we sometimes get into conflicts, each of us uses a variety of arguments to support our views.
What are your responsibilities as part of Team Europe Junior – Bulgaria and what are the projects you are working on?
Team Europe Junior is a volunteer initiative supported by the Representation of European Commission in Bulgaria. In 2014, one of the members of TEJ made a presentation in my high school and I was really impressed. As a team member, I visited the European institutions in Brussels. In addition, I participated in a training for communication and presentation skills. In the framework of our volunteering, we participate in various initiatives and activities of the Representation of European Commission in Bulgaria and the European Parliament Information Office in Bulgaria. One of the most inspiring and exciting events is the Back to school initiative, which brings us to our high schools. We present information about the EU and opportunities about their personal development.
You have won first place as a mentor and third place as a student participant in Able Mentor. Tell us more about your experience and projects as part of the program. How are being a mentor and a high school student participant in Able Mentor different?
I took part in the program for the first time when I was 10th grade. This was the first edition of the program here in Blagoevgrad. Thanks to this program, I met a lot of people from different fields and developed my qualities that I did not suspect I possessed. As a mentee, I presented a project connected with the personal development of the young person. As a part of this endeavor, with the support of The European Information Centre "Europe Direct" in Blagoevgrad, I managed to organize and lead a workshop for students in World Café focusing on "The ability to manage yourself." At the seminar, besides presenting the opportunities for education, improvement and development in the global world, we discussed topics such as “What are the problems in front of today's European leaders?”, “What connects and divides Europeans today?”, “What defines us as Europeans?” and “What has changed in Bulgaria after 10 years in the EU?”. Being on the other side, I actually saw how my mentors felt. The main difference was that this time I had to be in the role of an advisor giving guidelines instead of doing all the work. I was happy that my student was an ambitious, disciplined and easy-going person. Thanks to her diligence and perseverance, we won first place in the fifth season of the program. Also, we have created a very valuable friendship.
What achievements bring you personal satisfaction and why?
The participation in different conferences and competitions, which are based on my interests, brings me personal satisfaction. One of my biggest achievements is an award to visit the European institutions in Brussels, Belgium as a participant in a competition focusing on "Bulgaria in the EU – our present and future," organized by one of the Bulgarian MEPs. I acquired new knowledge and shared common experiences with people that have similar interests. During my stay there, I met some nice people and friends for life. That close encounter with a different culture changed me, and I loved the sense of belonging to the community. Now I know that citizenship gives me not only rights, but also a wider horizon. This is a unique chance to meet people from various nationalities, an opportunity to know myself better, my own abilities to seek, to understand and to be a natural part of a place different from my hometown.
Being part of the Investment Management Club at AUBG, you have been invited to participate in an International Study Trip in London. How can you describe the atmosphere and your experience there?
Yes, we went to London as part of a joint project with Aleksander Foundation. We got a glimpse inside some of the leading companies in the fields of financial services and management consulting. It was really valuable. What I enjoyed the most were the meetings in McKinsey & Company and Accenture. Our sponsor Aleksander Petrov gave us valuable advice on topics varying from a job interview to personal stories from his career.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my time with my family and friends. My favorite hobby is playing tennis with my close friends. Furthermore, hiking has become my passion since last year as I decided to climb Vihren peak. Along with hiking, travelling is passion because I love to explore new places, meet new people. Travelling gives me a good opportunity to learn a lot about the history of the country I visit, to see cultural places, to learn a lot about their traditions. So, I can expand my worldview.
What will you advice the newly accepted AUBG students on taking the best out of their university years?
First of all, stay focused and pursue your goals. Second of all, take part in all of the university activities. Third of all, I believe that you’re going to have some ups and downs, but never give up because you’ll get the reward at the end.
You are a graduate of the local Foreign Language High School and have already taken three courses in German at AUBG. Why is it important for you to learn foreign languages? What other languages would you like to learn in the future?
The advantages of learning foreign languages are a lot as the world becomes increasingly globalized. It's a well-known fact that learning a foreign language can improve your employment prospects. A lot of companies are doing business in several countries around the world, but it will be difficult for them to do it without hiring people who speak more than one foreign language. Furthermore, the study of a foreign language teaches and encourages people to show more respect for others. I want to learn French, Spanish and Russian for sure.
What are your plans for after you graduate from AUBG?
I will apply for a Master Degree in the College of Europe in Brugge, Belgium, which will expand my knowledge about Political Science and International Relations. I am planning to apply for an internship in the European Commission. I hope to achieve results that will lead to starting a full-time job there.