Prof. Dr. Assen Zlatarov Foreign Language School, Haskovo ‘23
EducationUSA Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria Grant Recipient
University of Pennsylvania, PA ‘27
It is tough, you will stay up late at night, you will be tired, but everything – and I mean Everything – will be worth it at the end of the day.
My name is Bogolyuba Georgieva. I was born in Stara Zagora, raised in Harmanli, and went on to my high school education in Haskovo, where I am currently a rising senior at the Foreign Language School “Prof. Dr Assen Zlatarov”.
To begin this success story in the proper way, I shall define what exactly “success” is. A simplistic way to put it is “the accomplishment of something great”. But, to other people like me, it means lying down at night without having to stress about your path. Let me present to you the path I have walked up to the moment of writing this story.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to pursue my higher education degree abroad. I had a couple of countries to choose from, but the USA was not an option until January of 2022. Back then, my father heard about Fulbright, EducationUSA and Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria, and he immediately advised me to apply. I was never sure I wanted to study in the US, but now it feels just right. I was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences as a member of the Class of 2027 in the early decision round, and my intended major is Criminology.
When I got the good news about the Opportunity Funds program in February of 2022, I started my journey by participating in all kinds of ZOOM meetings about the Common Application, the exams and essays and the whole process of applying to a US higher education institution. We were given tasks every week by Mrs. Snezhana Teneva, who always gave us detailed feedback that definitely helped a lot throughout the year. We had different kinds of preparation courses which were each a week-long virtual voyage that revolved around a specific part of the application process – the SATs, the language test (IELTS/TOEFL/Duolingo) and writing essays. Since UPenn still had a test-optional policy when I was applying, I did not submit test scores despite having sat the exam. Instead, I provided the universities I applied to with three certificates stating my level of English proficiency. In addition, I meticulously worked towards maintaining the highest GPA (6.00 out of 6.00) and finding opportunities that suited my interests perfectly.
Like most students, I had a plethora of extracurricular activities to write about, but the way I see it is that being a member of a club is not enough. You have to submerge yourself fully in order to take the greatest advantage of it, and that means growing as a person. I will now share just a couple of my extracurriculars and will elaborate on how exactly they helped me grow into the person I am today.
The IT Znayko is the first thing I thought of. I was part of this IT competition in grades 3 to 8. Making a presentation from dusk till dawn, then presenting it in front of over 50 people whilst defending your ideas sounds quite exhausting and rather tortuous, but it taught me thousands of things – discipline, perseverance and, most importantly, how to work in a team.
Writing poetry and painting taught me to express myself through art, to always think critically and outside of the box and to believe in everything I set my mind to.
The BEST Foundation Speech and Debate Tournament was co-founded by six Fulbright English Teaching Assistants. I have been part of Haskovo’s team during all five years of my high school education and have participated in each of the five categories (prose, poetry, duo, original oratory and debates). In the 11th grade, I was one of the two Student Leaders of my team and as such won the Community Project of the Year award for the 2021-2022 season alongside my teammates. These tournaments taught me to boldly stand and talk before a crowd and that every time I am brave enough to express my thoughts, there will be people ready to listen.
You see? Every activity matters because it makes you who you are today.
When it comes to the financial side of studying in the USA, students are often discouraged to apply just because of the high fees. But let me assure you that your dream university can give you 100% of your demonstrated financial need. In my opinion, the most important thing you have on your plate are the essays. If you have stood out through both your Common App and your essays, financial aid will be the least of your worries. Now that I have mentioned the essays, you guessed it – the Common App essay is the single, most crucial thing you will have to write. If it sounds like I am putting too much pressure on it, it is because I really am. I cannot count exactly how many drafts I made of the essay before I submitted it. Yet one thing you can be sure of is that it will certainly come to you naturally. I changed the last draft about two weeks before the deadline, and when I say “changed”, I mean changed absolutely everything – from the initial structure to the whole content. The greatest advice I can give you is to be bold and creative, produce something that will not only live permanently in your heart but will also impress readers for years to come. Watch videos, ask somebody from Opportunity Funds, send the drafts to your friends and ask them what could be done to strengthen this piece of the application. Hang in there, and a sudden wave of motivation and creativity will most definitely hit you.
And now to the most vital part of the whole application process – staying calm and not stressing over things that cannot be controlled. To be honest, 11th grade was probably the hardest academic year I have faced with everything on my plate, but now that I can look at it from afar, it was also a very rewarding experience. Even when things get difficult, sit tight, take deep breaths, and tell yourself every single day that you are absolutely capable of getting into your dream university. People have said that everything we want is on the other side of fear. Jump into every opportunity and enjoy life as much as possible, you have time for everything!