YELENA OSIPOVA-STOCKER (’09): “AUBG’s multicultural environment helped me gain a true appreciation of diversity and develop adaptability, resilience, and pretty strong cross-cultural communication skills—all extremely valuable in any industry or sector in this day and age.”


Name: Yelena Osipova-Stocker
AUBG Class of: 2009
Majors: Political Science/International Relations; Journalism and Mass Communication
Graduate/Advanced degree: M.A. International Communication; Ph.D. International Relations American University, Washington, D.C.
Home country: Armenia/U.S.A.
Current occupation: Communication Specialist, U.S. Department of Labor

• Where do we find you at this moment?

At home. In between parenting, work, and a giant mug of black tea.

• What was your first destination after AUBG? Describe your career path.

After graduating from AUBG, I moved to Washington, D.C. for my graduate studies in international communication, combining my two areas of passion – international affairs and communication. I pursued that further with a Doctorate in International Relations, but after toying briefly with the idea of becoming a professor, I decided to choose the practitioner route and joined the World Bank, here in D.C., as a communications consultant. In 2018, I became a Presidential Management Fellow taking on a communications role in the U.S. Federal Government.

• How have the years at AUBG prepared you for your career?

So many ways! Of course, there were the classes and the actual knowledge I gained during my four years there. Yet, I’d say the experiences and skills I developed through my extracurricular activities – especially, student media and clubs like People to People International – played a bigger role in my career trajectory. These activities gave me an excellent understanding of the role that information and media play in political and social processes both on campus and around the world. Equally important was AUBG’s multicultural environment, which helped me gain a true appreciation of diversity and helped me develop adaptability, resilience, and pretty strong cross-cultural communication skills—all extremely valuable in any industry or sector in this day and age.

• What class had the most significant impact on you?

Do I have to choose one? There were so many! More importantly, there were quite a few amazing professors, who helped me discover and develop my interests, learn more about the world, and be better informed about the choices I make—in my personal career as well as a citizen of this world. A special shout-out to professors Bobby Phillips, Aernout van Lynden, Ivelin Sardamov, Yavor Siderov, Ben DeDominicis, and the late Cosmina Tanasoiu, among many others. Their inspiration, support, and encouragement was invaluable throughout my time at AUBG and beyond.

• Knowing what you know now, what would you want to tell your student self? If you could change something back what would it be?

I would probably take more language classes and make greater use of travel opportunities, in Bulgaria and the region. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing!

• What are the things that make you tick? What is your greatest passion or motivation at present?

I guess the greatest professional motivation right now is seeing the impact of my work every day. At the World Bank, it was our stakeholders and beneficiaries in the developing communities we worked with. Now, at the Department of Labor, it’s the working women of America. On the personal side, it’s my children and the desire to make the world a better place for them and their generation.

• Future projects and plans that you look forward to with anticipation?

As part of my current fellowship, I have to complete a six-month detail assignment with another government agency, which I’m set to begin in October 2019. It will certainly be a new challenge and a great opportunity to learn more and develop new skills.

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