Karina Iskandarova: Positivity is the way to go
Karina a fourth-year student at ACT, is studying International Relations with a full scholarship, and recently was awarded the Newman Civic Fellowship by Campus Compact which aims to build democracy through civic education and community development. Karina was born, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and grew up in Volos and Larissa. She moved to Thessaloniki to pursue studies at ACT. Her research and active engagement in the community and in ACT, granted her the amazing opportunity of representing ACT, and Greece in Boston’s annual conference of the Newman Civic Fellows National Conference. Persistent, devoted to her goals and enthusiastic, Karina is ready for her next step...
You were born in a foreign country; you were brought up in Larisa; now you are a full scholarship recipient at ACT studying International Relationships; you have also received the Newman Civic Fellowship. What drives your efforts?
My name is Karina Iskandarova (Iskander in the Uzbek language means Great Alexander) and I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 1997, my mother and I came to Greece, loved the country and started a new life. I went to a Greek school and completely adapted to the Greek system and culture. Initially, during my childhood, I was living in Volos city, but in 2014, I moved to Larisa. One year later, my mother Guzel saw that the American College of Thessaloniki granted scholarships through a written exam and she strongly urged me to go and at least try. Three months later, I got an exciting phone call from the ACT Enrollment Office informing me that I won a 100% scholarship and that I was listed among the top three candidates who achieved the highest score in Greece. Honestly, when I heard the good news I started crying out of happiness as a new chapter in my life had begun.
After finishing high school I felt completely lost as I did not know what could be my real career goal in life. When I entered my first year of studies, I would attend all the events ACT organized, I volunteered in the majority of ACT activities, represented ACT in simulations of the United Nations both in Thessaloniki and abroad (Paris) and got elected twice for the Student Government. All these actions along with the charity drive for the homeless that I initiated with the help of the SGA and the head of student activities Stepan Partemian, won me the Newman Civic Fellowship Award in 2018. My active engagement in the community and in ACT granted me this amazing opportunity of having the honor to represent our college, our country, and the whole of Europe in Boston’s annual conference in November 2018. The truth is that beyond my enthusiasm, the thing that most, drives my efforts is my will to grab any opportunity that comes in my way as opportunities come and go.
You are working on a project about the educational opportunities for Roma girls. How is the project evolving?
I will soon get the permissions in order to carry out my project in schools at Dentropotamos area, in Thessaloniki, albeit with a slight change in the focus groups. Particularly, the educational project will address both young boys and girls as I would like to see how both genders perceive their rights.
You visited Boston last November to attend the Newman Civic Fellows National Conference. Tell us a bit about your experience there.
First of all, it was my first time traveling in the USA, and it was a dream comes true. The conference took place in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, an amazing place to be. During the first day of the conference, I met many young people coming from different states, presenting their projects. I was the only one that traveled from that far away and with a project that was vastly different from the rest. We met influential speakers, the guest stars of the conference, such as Lydia Edwards (Boston City Councilor) and Kenneth Reardon (professor of urban planning and director of urban planning and community development) who both delivered excellent speeches, inspiring me even more through their interesting stories and advice.
How has ACT prepared you for your future plans? What will your next step be?
ACT has offered me courses that were taught by charismatic professors who have successfully managed to help me see the world differently, become more open-minded and disciplined. I want to thank each one of them for their significant contribution to my way of thinking of the world and the problems societies face. Our professors love their job, behave in a democratic way and respect their students’ opinions. With regards to my next step, after my graduation in June, I want to do humanitarian work in order to get a hands-on experience relevant to my major, and most probably continue for post-graduate studies abroad.
Why did you choose to study International Relations? What would be your advice to a young girl who is thinking of studying International Relations?
I chose to study IR as it is a major that is close to my interests and is a field that combines different areas of studies. More specifically, through IR, a student will not only learn how the EU and the UN operate, but also, how politics, philosophy, psychology, human rights, economics, and many more, connect with one another. My advice to a young girl or boy who is thinking to study IR is to, of course, do it! For the reason that, through IR, students not only get well rounded and interdisciplinary knowledge but also because, due to the wide diversity of courses that are taught, their professional opportunities are greater than those of students in other majors.
Do you have a personal motto?
“Positivity is the way to go. Negativity only makes you stop”.