Third Alumni Gala Pledge Motivates More Alumni to Participate
In 2019, the AUBG graduates pledged to donate $5,000,000 to AUBG over 10 years. The raised funds support student scholarships, student clubs and extracurricular activities, faculty research, events, and the AUBG endowment. In the first two years, about 400 donors contributed nearly $800 000.
The beginning of Year 3 was marked with a Gala event at Elieff Center in Sofia. The focus of the AUBG Alumni Pledge Year 3 is to boost the participation rate and get more alumni involved. “I have made a personal commitment to have close to 560 participants this year,” said Jordan Karabinov ('97), President of the AUBG Alumni Association.
AUBG President Dr. David Evans noted that alumni enthusiasm was one of the major measures of an institution's success. Evans motivated the alumni to show their engagement by participating in the pledge. “Donate, even if it is 5 dollars so that we can reach the goal for 10 percent participation,” he said. The America for Bulgaria Foundation announced that they will donate twice the amount of donations coming from first-time donors and from donors who have made donations before 2019. In addition to that, they will match all other donations. America for Bulgaria Foundation President & CEO, Nancy Schiller, said that their matching campaigns show their support to the university and AUBG's current and former students. “The alumni and the friends of the alumni have been incredibly generous, and we hope that you will continue to be generous and support the university," she said. "The students that graduate are making a difference in Bulgaria and the region. This is why we support the university.”
AUBG seniors shared their reflections on the impact of the scholarships they have received. “Kids from small towns like Shumen, we are kind of afraid to have ambitions and to strive for bigger things,” said Boris Dechev. “Because we are just taught that we can make it and having these opportunities makes us believe and both of us have outdone everything we can do at AUBG. We are very grateful to have such an opportunity to accomplish this opportunity and see them accomplishable.” Mira Radoslavova supported Boris and added that she decided to stay and study in Bulgaria thanks to the scholarship she received: “I never would have imagined that I would have gone to this point where I am so confident in myself and I am here because of the scholarship.”
People interested in donating can find different initiatives such as named scholarships, the Alumni Mega Reunion 2015 Scholarship, and specific student clubs. An EMBA Scholarship is another initiative for which alumni can choose to contribute.
Evelina Van Mensel (EMBA’16) announced the EMBA scholarship while sharing her experience with the EMBA program. ”For me, AUBG was a life-changer,” Van Mensel said in a video address. “It is here that I met amazing people, amazing colleagues and professors. And it is here that I learned things I never knew before. It is here that I got to know about social entrepreneurship, about business and society cases from all over the world. And all of this broadened my horizons tremendously to an extent where I made a huge shift from my business life to the academic life. And now I want to devote myself to helping social entrepreneurs with my research. And I know there are many people who deserve to have this experience and who deserve our help to fight the biggest social problems that we face nowadays that are only getting bigger and bigger. Not all of these people however will be able to come to the AUBG and experience the Executive MBA. So please join me and let’s start a mutual fund for the Executive MBA.”
There are also initiatives that honor the 30th anniversary of AUBG. The newest initiative, the 30 for the 30th campaign is a crowdfunding campaign that brings a fun new twist to the AUBG alumni community’s fundraising efforts. One of the participants in this campaign will have a chance to win a stay at the Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko. Elevate and AUBGenesis are also celebrating AUBG30.
“I am sure that we are all gathered today because we share the same common goal of wanting to help AUBG students and alumni the achieve the potential we all know they have,” said alumna Desislava Manova, Managing Director of the Elevate Accelerator. The program just announced the seven teams which will be part of the third season, adding up to the 13 teams from the previous seasons. “The goal of the accelerator is to help current students and alumni turn their business ideas into a reality," she said. "And then for the first time in the Elevate’s history, as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of AUBG, on the demo day, the culminating event, we will have a guaranteed investment pool of $30 000 which will go to the three most promising startups. I want to wholeheartedly thank you because this is how we help students become an active part of the community, not just passive consumers.”
Another initiative that celebrated the 30th anniversary of AUBG is the AUBGenesis Documentary Project: a multimedia initiative in commemoration of AUBG’s 30th anniversary. It aims to record, preserve and present to the general public the history of AUBG’s inception, and relate it to today’s impact of the institution both locally and worldwide. The film will be produced by Georgi a.k.a. “Starche” Iliev ('96). Here are some of the questions he aims to ask: How did AUBG come to be, how it almost wasn’t, how it survived? Can one person change the course of history? Can two? Who were those two people?
The guests of the event enjoyed the dancing performances of the Broadway Performance Club, the voice of Nadezhda Iribozova with the accompaniment of Vasil Tulevski and the stand-up comedy show of Stefani Angelova.
BEST OF THE DECADE
To mark AUBG’s 30th Anniversary, the Development office with the support of the Alumni Association launched the “Best of the Decade” campaign aiming to recognize the most noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by AUBG’s youngest alumni, who earned their degrees in the period 2010 – 2020. The Nominees were evaluated in five categories based on their professional success, community contributions, or commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with AUBG.
Stefani Kostadinova (’17) was named Changemaker, as somebody who desires change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen. Stefani helped address Mexico City's water crisis, consulted the Mayor of Mexico City on flood management, and built the investment case of the water fund by creating financial and hydrological models. “Whenever I think of AUBG, I feel like it has been a bit of a snowball," Stefani said. "And every achievement that has come afterward has been thanks to AUBG. So I am eternally grateful to this university for being this piece of snow that turned into an avalanche and helped me in truly every career opportunity that I had.”
Nikolay Nikolov (’14) was named Emerging Leader, an award given to a person who has significantly impacted his or her professional field or community-at-large since graduation. Nikolay is strongly interested in the voluntary national review of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation. He was a representative of Bulgaria in the United Nations in the fall of 2020. He often participates in youth forums, aiming to spread awareness and train future leaders to take responsible and just decisions. “I think that one way or another we should always find a way to come back to AUBG to support each other," Nikolay said. "These friendships are something that will last for a lifetime. Because the amazing friendships that I shaped gave me a lot of pleasure and delight to be part of the AUBG community and to continue to be committed to this community even after graduation. When we created MEU, it was an amazing experience to help educate young Bulgarians how the EU functions, how international organizations are functioning so I think the most important thing is to stay strong together and give back.”
Sindi Shkodrani (’15) won the International Award that distinguishes an individual who lives and works outside of their home country and has demonstrated consistency in his or her career or community. Sindi was listed as one of 11 A.I. leaders from Amsterdam to watch in 2021.“This award has made me reflect deeply over my time at AUBG and be thankful for the way it shaped my future," Sindi said. "I cherish my AUBG years as the ones that had the most impact on my values. It was a journey of personal inner growth and yet about presence and community. In times like today when society educated citizens that care, and are aware and take actions more than ever, I hope we will use every chance we have to support our alma matter so that more students can experience what we did and go out and change the world.”
Florina Ivanova (’15) was named Outstanding Alumna, who has demonstrated exceptional service and, through personal or professional achievement, has brought honor and distinction to the university. Florina is a sports news anchor at bTV, Bulgaria's first private TV station." As I have said many times, AUBG feels like a home to me," Florina said. "I feel my friends, family, colleagues, staff are the family we choose to have. I know from first-hand experience that AUBG develops talents. I know from first hand experience that AUBG encourages you to follow your passion and chase your dreams. I know that AUBG people are successful people and I am happy to know so many of them, so being nominated and selected as a winner from one of the most important driving forces of the university - its alumni really feels like an honor to me. We must support the AUBG community, we must support each other and continue doing so because what we have with AUBG is very special and we must preserve it.”
Martin Georgiev (’16) was named True Griffin, as someone who has gone above and beyond to help advance the mission of AUBG as a committed volunteer. Whether by dedicating time to students and alumni, lending leadership skills to university initiatives, or acting as ambassadors for AUBG, the True Griffin's passion for their Alma Mater is both inspirational and aspirational. “It means a lot," said Martin, who currently works as a Communications Development Specialist at AUBG's Office of Communcations and Marketing. "Working at AUBG at the same time and loving AUBG as much as I do means working non-stop so even after five years I continue being an ambassador to AUBG and I want to encourage all my fellow classmates and all other alumni to support the institution every way they can. Financially, through mentoring other students, through just being back on campus. Every little thing helps.”