The American University in Bulgaria as we know it today didn’t emerge overnight. Boriana Milanova Treadwell, an AUBG graduate of the very first class in the history of the university, witnessed the gradual expansion of the services offered at university and the improvements in the quality of the education process. It wouldn’t be exaggerated at all if one says that Boriana entered one AUBG and later graduated a truly different one. It is precisely being a part of the university’s first class and benefiting from a progressive system of education, utterly unthinkable under communist rule, that now make Boriana view her AUBG adventure as “the best decision of my life.”
Born to a family of engineers in Sofia, Boriana acquired two secondary school diplomas simultaneously. Bulgarian language and literature, history and English interested her the most. In the early 1990s Boriana faced the challenge of deciding what and where she would like to study with regard to higher education. “At the time, I was considering going to Sofia University to major in English”, Boriana explains. “And, like most people my age, we were dreaming of being able to study abroad.”
The dismantling of the iron curtain in 1989 brought a plethora of new opportunities. Having already applied to some universities in the United States with the hope of receiving a scholarship, Boriana came across an announcement about the upcoming opening of the American University in Bulgaria. She didn’t think twice. “I applied, took the exams, got accepted, and enrolled at AUBG within the course of a couple of months.”
In Boriana’s view, the fully-fledged liberal arts system of education is AUBG’s greatest asset. “I thought I was going to major in business administration”, Boriana recalls. “But when I took my first JMC 101 class, I was hooked.” What Boriana liked the most about the JMC major was the program’s practical lectures and activities such as specialized writing and developing of pictures. Boriana’s insatiable “natural hunger for knowledge” prompted her to take as much of the General Education courses as possible. “I consider all classes related to what I ultimately chose to do in life – report the news”, she says. “There is no knowledge lost on a journalist – and every single bit helps at some point or another.”
Unlike her peers in Bulgarian universities who had a semester-long series of lectures and an all-important final exam, Boriana and her AUBG colleagues learnt to stay on top of their capabilities all semester long. The discipline and tenacity thus acquired would later prove an indispensable element of her professional accomplishments.
Currently boasting an American style campus with three residence halls, a well-equipped library, and exceptional student’s center, AUBG in its first years of existence had only very limited resources. Boriana remembers when she and her peers began their first year in Blagoevgrad, “we had no computers and thus wrote our first papers by hand and on typewriters.” Step by step, a small computer lab and several wings of the library were opened, the internal email system came in, and Radio Aura and the first AUBG student newspaper appeared. Boriana recalls the time when the administration bought a TV set for the movie theater where, as Boriana puts it, “all of us could gather and watch the main evening newscast on the Bulgarian National Television and the popular series Twin Peaks after that. “
Following her graduation from AUBG in 1995, Boriana quickly got a full-time job as a Foreign Desk reporter and editor at the Standard daily newspaper only to quit two years later to continue her education at Georgia State University in Atlanta, USA. During her second semester she spent three months as an intern at CNN International. At the completion of her internship she received an offer to work as a freelancer for CNN. Twelve months later she signed a full-time contract as a production assistant, and she was ultimately promoted to the position of producer/assignment editor in 2005. Meanwhile, she has won two Emmy and five Peabody Awards. Currently, Boriana continues to work as a freelance producer/assignment editor for CNN International Newsgathering while simultaneously teaching journalism and communications classes as an adjunct professor in two different universities in Georgia.
Drawing on her extensive experience, Boriana advises current and prospective AUBG students to “seek diverse opportunities, trust your instincts, and try to get in all the doors that crack open.”
Story by Daniel Penev
Article reprinted with permission.
Originally published on AUBG website.