Alumni Reflection: Georgia

Once a Global UGRAD, Always a Global UGRAD

My name is Nikolozi Sepiashvili. I am a senior student of the Bachelor’s Degree Program in Economics at the International School of Economics (ISET) in Tbilisi, Georgia. I became a finalist of the Global UGRAD Exchange Program 2019-2020, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and received a scholarship to study at Illinois State University (ISU).

Since childhood, I dreamed of being able to study in the United States and experience American life, and one day my biggest dream came true, I became a Global UGRAD! I felt every day the attention and respect of my American community. I made a lot of friends and meaningful connections. My host university had various student clubs that held interactive meetings, activities, and field trips at least once a week. I gained invaluable experience that not only improved my social and community skills, but also gave me the opportunity to meet and make new friends. I still maintain active contacts with my American friends, as well as with international students whom I met during my studies at ISU.


Nikolozi Sepiashvili with members of the Illinois State Economics Student Association at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

As a UGRADer and a student at the host university, I became more convinced of my strengths and abilities. While studying in America, I actively participated in many social events and extracurricular activities related to my main area of study. I made several presentations about my country and culture and took active participation in the work of the Economics Student Association. For my outstanding service to the organization, I was honored to be elected as an honorary member and representative of the Illinois State Economics Student Association, thus I became the first foreign honorary member of the Association.

Working as a volunteer at the School Street Food Pantry at the First United Methodist Church.

I find community service to be an important part of my life because it allows me to take part in doing something significant for my society. During my studies in the United States, I participated in various community service activities. I worked as a volunteer in the School Street Food Pantry in the First United Methodist Church and participated in the construction of a Hero House, organized by Habitat for Humanity.

One of the remarkable events, which I attended was the Global UGRAD Workshop in Washington, D.C. organized by the World Learning. During the event, I met other Global UGRADs from all over the world! I made new friends and created a wide international network. One of my friends that I want to highlight, whom I met during the event is Harris Mowbray, an American student, about whom I also want to say a little!


Nikoloz participating in the construction of a Hero House, organized by  Habitat for Humanity.

When I met him, I was very surprised how much he was interested in the history and culture of my country, Georgia. Harris is an international relations student from Northern California and is interested in programming and linguistics. A few months ago, he created the braille alphabet for the Laz, Mingrelian, Svan and Abkhaz Georgian minority languages. Due to his initiative and hard work, visually impaired people in Georgia can now comprehend the literature written in those languages in braille.

He has already held live meetings with Georgian NGOs, presenting his work to the Georgian people, and continues his scientific work related to Georgia. Thanks to my Global UGRAD experience, I met this amazing person who is doing so much for the Georgian community.

Last but not least, besides my education, I continue to participate in social activities. The Global UGRAD Program played a crucial role in the development of my leadership skills and inspired me to serve my community more. I met many people and made new friends. I experienced the American Dream and will always be grateful for this opportunity!


Nikolozi virtually meeting with Harris Mowbray, introducing his work to Georgian youth with fellow Georgian friend, Mariam Paradashvili, Co-founder of the Georgian youth organization, “Young Leaders International Academy.”

Nikolozi Sepiashvili, Global UGRAD 2019-2020, Illinois State University



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