Alumni Update: Azerbaijan

My name is Sabina Sharifova. I am from Azerbaijan, and I am a Global UGRAD Alumna of 2016-2017. It’s unbelievable that three years have passed since I was studying Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. It is hard to explain how just one semester in the U.S. changed my entire life. It has granted me a feeling of confidence and achievement, shaped my wide outlook, and given life-long global friendships. Upon returning to Azerbaijan, I had a clear vision of how I wanted to serve my local community and use skills that I developed for their benefit.

When I arrived back to Azerbaijan, I started to work in my own field – I was an English instructor at private courses and also completing my undergraduate degree at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. Later, I started to work at the Protocol section of the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan, and I absolutely loved it there. My American colleagues, the environment, holidays – everything reminded me my Global UGRAD experience.

A year later I was accepted to Khazar University and began to work in their graduate admissions office as a PhD admissions specialist. At the same time, I was chosen as a Young European Ambassador of Azerbaijan for 2018-2019. Through that program, I participated in several EU-related events, represented Azerbaijan in Europe, took part in drafting new recommendations and policies by youth delegates, and implemented EU-funded projects for children with limited abilities.

But my biggest success in these three years was gaining another scholarship for my second masters! I won a very prestigious scholarship from the UK called Chevening. I am studying Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck University of London, and my field of interest is Neurolinguistics. Visiting London has been a  dream since my childhood, and I can’t believe I am currently studying here! After completing my studies, I plan to open a Linguistic Center in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and become the first-ever neuro-psycholinguist of Azerbaijan.

Whatever I achieve in my life, I always remember how it all started  – with the experience and leadership development that Global UGRAD gave me. I am so proud to be an alum, and I continue to volunteer for Global UGRAD recruiting opportunities in Baku. I am enormously grateful for the life-long success, friends, and memories that I owe to the program.

Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD! Cheers!

By Sabina Sharifova, Global UGRAD 2016-17, Azerbaijan, Grand Valley State University