Yenlik O’Neill from Kazakhstan Awarded AUBG’s Presidential Medal 2022
The 28th Honors Convocation celebrated academic excellence at AUBG on April 14 at the Dr. Carl Djerassi Theater Hall. Every year, the ceremony recognizes the university’s most distinguished students for their achievements in and outside the classroom.
“Our community has met the challenges posed by the pandemic with grace and patience, and I am particularly grateful to our students and faculty, who have endured uncertainty, rapid changes in their classes, and the ongoing stress of adapting to new technologies,” said AUBG President Dr. David Evans. “Throughout this period, the students we honor this evening have maintained their high standards and continued to perform with dedication and focus. AUBG has distinguished itself as an institution that attracts, educates and graduates exceptional students with high aspirations. The challenge and the pleasure of working with such students inspires our faculty to do their best work on their behalf. One of the most pleasant tasks associated with being President is to participate in this ceremony, which honors our best and brightest students.”
The Presidential Medal is the grand award at the ceremony and a recognition for both academic achievements and contributions to the university community and the society as a whole. This year's award went to Yenlik O'Neill, a Journalism and Mass Communication student from Kazakhstan who minors in Literature and Marketing. For five consecutive semesters, she has been on the Dean's list.
“Unexpected, surreal, rewarding - those are the three adjectives that would describe the amalgam of thoughts and emotions that I had while receiving the 2022 Presidential Medal,” Yenlik said. “In the audience, I could see so many friends of mine, fellow AUBG students, and staff members who were sincerely happy for me. From behind me, I could feel the energy of the AUBG professors who guided me throughout my university journey and supported my occasionally crazy yet ambitious projects. Although my parents were not there to watch me receive the awards, I knew from the bottom of my heart that they are proud of my achievements, be it with or without the medal.”
Throughout the 8 semesters of her study, Yenlik was part of several projects that strengthened the connection between the AUBG and Blagoevgrad Communities. Through “Oral Histories of Blagoevgrad”, a limited-edition book she designed, we saw our town through the eyes of those who have spent their lives here. The “Motorgrad” documentary put a spotlight on a niche sport in the region and showed the local community the professionalism our students put into everything they do. As the pandemic turned our worlds upside down, she used her camera to document and showcase the “Quarantine Stories” here on campus.
As the Vice President of TEDxAUBG and former Design Team head, she helped share “ideas worth spreading” because – as she says: “They help you understand things you never even thought about.”
As a multi-instrumentalist, she has been a devoted member of the Rock Jamming Club, and as a multi-culturalist, she was selected to be a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society.
During the crisis in Kazakhstan this winter, Yenlik was the connection between AUBG and her peers who were cut off from the world back home.
When the Ukrainian war broke out and families started arriving in Blagoevgrad, at the cost of sleepless nights she, alongside other AUBGers, put her efforts into turning empty apartments into homes for those fleeing from war. She went as far as giving her own shoes and her laptop to those who had come here with nothing.
Why? “You just have to help, if you can,” she said.
Find the full list of awards at the Honors Convocation below:
Outstanding Achievement in Information Systems: Nikolay Lyutov and Martin Kadrev
Annual Programming Contest Winners: Milosh Vukadinovic and Lazaron Shyta
Outstanding Achievement in Computer Science: Anna Ilcheva and Vitaliy Konyukhov
Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics and Science: Milosh Vukadinovich
Outstanding Achievement in Journalism and Mass Communication: Yenlik O'Neill
Outstanding Achievement in Economics: Elena Kalinova
Outstanding Achievement in Business Administration, finance: Elena Kalinova
Outstanding Achievement in Business Administration, management: Gabriela Qypi
Outstanding Achievement in Business Administration, marketing: Petar Hristakiev
Outstanding Achievement in Business Administration, accounting: Ina Manolova
Outstanding Achievement in Modern Languages, French: Mariela Kodzhebasheva
Outstanding Achievement in Modern Languages, German: Andrea Videnova
Outstanding Achievement in Modern Languages, Spanish: Rumyana Penzova and Denitsa Yosifova
Outstanding Achievement in Literature: Ralica Nancheva
Outstanding Achievement in Film Studies: Tina Spasenkova
The Filitsa Sofianou-Mullen Creative Writing Competition:
3rd place: AUBG Alum Mitcho Hristov for "On the Shore"
2nd place: AUBG first-year student Zlatara Chakarova for "The Tree"
1st place: AUBG first-year student Niya Manditsch for "Meltdown"
Faculty Emeritus Recognition (posthumously): Professor Serguey Ivanov
Faculty Research Award: Professor Michael Cohen
Excellence in Teaching Award: Professor Laura Kelly
Outstanding Student in Vocal Studies: Evgeniya Trifonova
Outstanding Student in Harp: Emil Todorov
Outstanding Students in Piano: Evgeniya Trifonova and Vitaly Konyukhov
Outstanding Achievement in Psychology: Rumyana Penzova and Anastasiya Pantsialei
Outstanding Achievement in History and Civilizations: Ngoc-Mai Nguyen
Outstanding Achievement in European Studies: Alexandra Gouleva
Outstanding Students in Political Science and International Studies: Viktoria V. Ivanova and Iva Komsiyska
Outstanding Achievement in the EMBA: Mihail Karpachev and Sophia Dyakova
The Best Paper Prize at the 16th Student-Faculty Conference ‘Fellowship of the Mind’: Viktor Kharyton
Outstanding Student Athletes: Radoslav Naydenov and Eva Yordanova
Al Cyrus Award for Theater: Mai Ngoc Nguyen and Boris Dechev
This year’s Outstanding Subject Tutor is: the Tutor in Financial Accounting Nikolay Pachev
The Outstanding Student Advisor is: Viktor Kharyton
The Outstanding Writing Center Tutor is: Emili Timcheva
The Outstanding Resident Assistant is Nadezhda Dimitrova
This year the Community Volunteer Service Award goes to: Armela Gjylsheni, Nino Kutubidze, Yenlik O’Neill, Mariela Latinova, and Ivan Asen Enchev
This year’s award for the Outstanding Contribution to Shared Governance goes to: Viktoria V. Ivanova and Svetozara Saykova