From Stillwater to Macedonia and Back

Recent Alumna Aleksandra Murgoska Shares Expertise with OSU Students

Speech at the Ada Rotary Club 2018Aleksandra giving a speech at the Ada Rotary Club (Sept 2018)Many OSU alum make the journey back to OSU every year, but few travel as far as recent M.A. alum Aleksandra Murgoska (class of 2012).  A native of Macedonia, Aleksandra returned to her home country after graduating from OSU with her Master's in Political Science in 2012. While her political science training prepared her for her initial position as a research and project assistant with the Institute for Democracy 'Societas Civilis,' she now uses the skills developed during her educational career in the field of international business and foreign investment. 

One of her main passions is to contribute towards the economic progress of Macedonia through creating employment opportunities for young people.  She has worked as an International Business Development Analyst for the Macedonian government, a Branch Manager for an international trading group, and until recently served as a Consultant and Country Manager for the international non-governmental organization Macedonia 2025, a where she was assigned to lead a project on empowering women entrepreneurship an strengthening the capacities of female-led organizations.

Aleksandra first came to the US on a full athletic scholarship to play basketball at Iowa Western Community College.  She completed her Bachelor's at East Central University before applying to the Master's of Political Science program at Oklahoma State. 

She returned to Oklahoma this past fall, visiting both East Central University and OSU.  During her time in Stillwater, she visited with former professors and gave guest lectures in two courses.  One of her lecture topics was on Macedonia's quest to join NATO, a timely topic and one made very complicated by national identity concerns and relations with neighboring countries.  She also met with a small group of students offering them advice about pursuing international careers.

2012 OSU Aleks and her studentsAleks with her students after her last lecture for the Introduction to US Government class while she was a teaching assistant at OSU.

The students  reported that  the topics she covered were interesting, and that her career path was very inspiring.  One student said that she offered career advice, which he had never heard of before, about connecting with international agencies.  He went on to say it made a lot of sense once she explained how the process worked. 

aleksandra birthrightAleksandra’s speech at the opening ceremony of the project Birthright Macedonia in which she played an vital role in its establishment While her time in Oklahoma was filled with meetings and events, Aleksandra was kind enough to answer some questions after she returned home via email:

What is your current job?  What are your future career plans?

I currently hold a few professional roles including a consultantcy role in an international consulting company whose main objective is bringing foeign investments as well as a Country Manage for the international non-governmental organization named Macedonia 2025. The main aim of the organization is attracting and fostering foreign and diaspora investments in Macedonia in order to enhance employment and keep the young and qualified people in the country through matchmaking and tailored educational programs with the focus on leadership. 

My plan for the future is to open my own company in Macedonia, which will focus on generating new employment opportunities to stem the flow of young adults from the country.  The 'brain drain' that Macedonia is experiencing is one of its biggest challenges.  Due to the very limited employment opportunities, many people decide to look for jobs elsewhere. My long-term vision is to establish an entity in which Macedonians would be hired to perform tasks on behalf of international clients, commonly known as outsourcing.

Who inspired you as a student?

OSU 2018 Dr. Pappas and Dr. MendezAleksandra (center) with mentors Dr. Pappas (left) and Dr. Mendez (right)

Since I was a little kid, I had a role-model who was my admiration and inspiration to stay strong and to not give up in tough situations. My all-time role model, former world n1 handball player Indira Kastratovic taught me how to remain resilient and assertive in and outside of the court.  

During my academic career, I was most inspired by Dr. Christine Pappas (ECU), Dr. Jeannette Mendez and Dr. Amber Dickinson. Each was uniquely instrumental in my development through my academic years in Oklahoma.

Whenever I thought something was impossible, they would invest their  time to empower me  and convince me that I could – rather than I couldn’t.  These incredibly talented  professionals have a vital impact not only for my academic achievements but also on my career accomplishments.  I am forever grateful for their input and their guidance.  They had an enormous affect in reshaping my internal thinking for which I am truly appreciative.

Dr. Christine Pappas was very instrumental in guiding me to choose  political science as a major. She  took additional steps  to make sure that I would  succeed.. Dr. Pappas was also the prime reason why I was selected as a Master student at the Department of Political Science at OSU. She personally drove me to several universities in Oklahoma and Texas, arranged meetings for me with the professors of graduate schools and wrote outstanding  letters of recommendation. Furthermore, she has been following my career development after I left East Central as well. When I thought about her belief and empowerment in myself, there were simply no limits to what I could achieve. Dr. Pappas’s sincere listening skills enabled me to be more patient, caring and comprehensive of others.

Dr. Jeanette Mendez’s strong public skills and her self-confidences set exceptionally high standards for me.  When I  encountered what I thought were insurmountable issues related to my subjects, she always found the time to guide me through them. Together we would meet and devise a concrete plan for improvement.  I adore her ‘right-to-the-point effective approach and I apply it every day in business. Dr. Mendez has set a very high bar for me by her strong work ethic.   

Since the very first moment we met, Dr. Amber Dickinson and I knew instantly we , were an  ideal match. Our positive energies and vibes were the first signs for our long-term, meaningful and sincere  relationship. Dr. Dickinson was my mentor and Advisor during my engagement as a Teaching Assistant. , I am forever indebted to her counsel and guidance during this period of my life. During my first year at OSU, I assisted her in lecturing the ‘Introduction to US Government’ class. I was genuinely moved both by her passion and how  natural and authentic she was during her classes. During my frequent visits to her office, she encouraged me to independently teach this class during my second year at OSU.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would be possible.  

As an outcome of the mentorship with the above mentioned individuals, I have become aware of the fulfillment and great feeling of helping others by giving back to the community. Something that makes me really proud is that on a volunteering basis I have played an essential role towards the birth of a new program in Macedonia: Birthright Macedonia. The program consists of bringing students of Macedonian origin living in Diaspora back to the country of their ancestors where they are given the opportunity to learn more about their roots, live with host families and intern in different entities for three weeks. I strongly believe this program will not only bridge the gap for Macedonian people from all around the world, but will also encourage some of them to somehow make positive impacts and re-connect with their homeland.  

What were some things you learned as a political science student that helped you succeed in your current career path?

Detroit 2018 Gala Dinner with the Macedonian President he is included in the picAt the 2018 Detroit Gala Dinner with the Macedonian President (he's in the middle). Aleksandra's trip to the US also included an event with the Canadian Embassy as part of Macedonia 2025.Critical thinking, public speaking, organizational/time management and effective communication are skills I developed that I continue to rely on today.  During my college experience, I had numerous opportunities to expand and refine these skills.  While leading an international company in Macedonia, I had the opportunity to y use them extensively and with results. As I move forward on my career path, I know these skill sets will serve as a solid foundation and be a unique asset as I face challenges in the future.

Any advice you would offer to current students?

Thanks to the mindset that was installed in me during my six-year journey in the United States, I realized that the key to success is in taking additional actions, investing in myself and believing that the reward occurs in later stages.

When I first went to OSU, I remember calling my mom back home complaining I could not possibly read at least 500 pages  on a weekly basis. I thought this was lunacy and contemplated quitting school.  However, after consulting further with my family, and especially with my valued professors, I recalled the words of Dr. Peter Rudloff, a professor at OSU. To paraphrase Dr. Rudloff, I thought to myself: ‘All you can do is give your best at the certain moment with the particular given situation and if you can’t do this, there wouldn’t be anything you will be regretting for.’  Even though these thoughts were especially relevasnt during my college days, I value them today and will continue to find comfort in them as time passes.

We thank Aleksandra for her visit and for her willingness to help mentor current students.  We wish her luck as she opens her new company!