The Nando Peretti Foundation Distinguished Scholar Program at the American University in Bulgaria

Project location: BULGARIA
Project start date: September 2004 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2004-25
Beneficiary: The American University in Bulgaria


PROJECT TIMELINE: From 2009 - to 2013

The Nando Peretti Foundation's grant allows the American University in Bulgaria to offer a high quality, Baccalaureate education to three needy Bulgarian students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue a degree at an institution like AUBG. AUBG is a Bulgarian and American joint initiative, private, highly selective, residential undergraduate institution. AUBG's educational system is based on the Liberal Arts style of the American Educational System. The curriculum is designed to foster independence of thought, creative problem solving, and effective communication. Students pursue majors in the fields of economics, business administration, computer sciences, history, journalism and mass communications, political science and international relations, European studies, mathematics, and information systems.

The style of education at AUBG instills the values of democracy and individual liberty, free market economies, and a free and ordered civil society. It encourages and develops individual initiative, critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as a respect for the rule of law and personal responsibility in an active society.

AUBG has established itself as a legitimate and highly valued institution in Bulgarian higher education with a degree recognized by the Bulgarian government. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education as well as by the Agency for Accreditation and Evaluation of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Recruitment and support of superior students is the major goal of the University, but for that it needs the support of private donors (individuals, foundations, corporations, etc.). The gifts of private donors allow the University to give need/merit-based financial aid to students from all over the world. The majority of AUBG students would not be able to attend the University without the funding of our supporters.

This is exactly the case with the Bulgarian students that Nando Peretti Foundation supports. The cooperation between the Nando Peretti Foundation and the American University in Bulgaria started in 2005. The first Agreement between the two parties resulted in a successful implementation of a four-year program that supported the full course of education for three Bulgarian students for the period of 2005-2008. Following the positive outcome of the first Agreement, the two institutions continued their partnership for another four-year term with the support of a second group of three students.

The Nando Peretti Foundation Distinguished Scholars are: Atanas Mihnev, Kristina Borisova, and Kristiyan Dimitrov. Atanas Mihnev and Kristina Borisova are in their last year of education and will be graduating in May 2014. Kristiyan Dimitrov has been added later as a recipient of the scholarship and he will graduate in May 2015. Applicants were judged on academic achievement, financial need, extracurricular activities, and promise to become leaders. They were selected on a competitive basis from a highly qualified pool of AUBG student seeking and qualified for financial assistance in Academic Year 2010 - 2011.

The competitive Nando Peretti Foundation Distinguished Scholarships funded the recipients' undergraduate studies at the University. For each academic year, the entering freshmen had their tuition, board and room, textbooks, and other student fees covered.

Kristina Biserova is graduating as a double major in Business Administration and Journalism & Mass Communication, with a cumulative GPA of 3.78 (of the 4.00 grading system). Kristina is an active participant in the vibrant environment of the University, with her most current and prominent activity being her work on developing a full marketing and PR campaign for the AUBG. Apart from taking various courses in the process of completing her two majors, she has been engaged with extracurricular activities like writing for the student media, participating in charity campaigns and being part of the organization of the biggest sports event on campus, namely the AUBG Olympics. Kristina is confident that for the time spent at AUBG, the University has equipped her with the set of skill necessary to become a valuable asset to the process of making her country (Bulgaria) a fully functional member of the European Union. Her education at AUBG has helped her see both the shortcomings of Bulgarian economy and the possible ways to solve them by starting small and acting local.

After graduation she is planning to become a part of the Bulgarian business world. Even though she is still a student she is already applying for positions in the areas of marketing, communications and public relations in hopes of finding a company where she can bring value as well as establish a logical continuation of her development.

Atanas Mihnev is graduating in May 2014 with double major in Political Science and International Relations, and Economics. Atanas spent his four years at AUBG being actively engaged in various student and civic activities on the campus of the University and in the city and in Bulgaria. In 2011 he founded a youth organization named "Together Bulgaria", which has to date enabled over 100 young men and women from the Blagoevgrad region and Bulgaria to do educational exchanges, funded by the European Commission. He has attended many such trainings and seminars and completed internships at the European Parliament (2011). In 2013, he became part of an international team of facilitators, who visited Burundi on a mandate by the European Commission to explore the progress of the country in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Atanas co-founded, captained and then coached the AUBG team in the rounds of the Philip C. Jessup moot court competition in International Law. Hence he developed a passion for international law and is now working on a project in international law and economics.

Atanas considers as his biggest accomplishment at AUBG the fact that he was elected by his fellow students to serve on the Student Government of the University for three years. In the beginning of this academic year his fellow senator elected him to be the Chairperson of the Student Government.

The third recipient, Kristiyan, who currently is in his third year of studies at AUBG, is double majoring in Business Administration and Mathematics. His main area of interest is topology. Kristiyan has danced in two musicals, acted in three theatrical plays, and even co-directed one. These activities have developed his interest in aesthetic expression, which has now carried over in his learning to play the piano. Kristiyan has not decided yet what he wants to do after he graduates. He plans to explore opportunities that his home country provides this summer.

In a nutshell, the Nando Peretti Scholarship has provided these three students with opportunities that they could have never had without the Foundation's support. The current plans of the graduating two students are to stay and develop further in Bulgaria, while at the same time they contribute for the development of the country as well. The third recipient is still in his educational phase and he still has a lot to get from the education that AUBG offers.


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