He’s working hard to ensure his kids will have it easier

Vladislav Minev, Sofia, Bulgaria Vladislav Minev, Sofia, Bulgaria
By Amanda C. Thompson
Globe Correspondent / May 13, 2010

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When Vladislav Minev, 22, first started college, he had no idea how to use a dryer or open a checking account. Such plights are common for American freshmen, but at least they have the home turf advantage. Minev grew up in Bulgaria, where he learned English as a second language. The list of obstacles goes on.

In spite of such challenges, Minev will graduate from Gordon College on May 15 with a GPA of 3.55 and a bachelor’s degree in business with an international concentration. He will receive honors in his French minor and may also graduate with economics and business honors, depending on the faculty’s evaluation of his honors thesis two days before graduation.

Minev is the first person in his family to go to a US school. His parents live in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, and can’t afford to visit for his graduation. Minev gave his tickets to families of friends who helped him along the way.

“I didn’t want to go to a Bulgarian school,’’ said Minev. “It’s easy to get in, and you can pay for your diploma without opening a single book.’’ He said exams are tough but cheating is easy, and common, and employers know it. He added that Bulgarian employers favor internationally educated students.

Ever since he realized as a child what a great job his father had managing a sports stadium, Minev has dreamed of becoming a sports manager. But the road to that dream has not been easy.

“You have to learn to take care of yourself,’’ said Minev. But he speaks of his burdens as blessings, always seeking the silver lining. “There are all kinds of people [at Gordon], and everybody can fit in easily,’’ he said. “It’s not like you’re isolated.’’

Minev has been a member of the soccer team and enjoys participating in campus events. When resident advisers decided to serve a free dinner to students, Minev donned an apron and spent the evening flipping more than 200 pancakes.

But his work ethic and efficiency extend much further. Even with the help of three scholarships, Minev has worked for Gordon’s dining services, physical plant, and residence staff to afford tuition. He also served for a short time as a French teaching assistant.

Minev isn’t a workaholic. He’s just doing everything he can to ensure that whenever he becomes a father in the future, his children will not face the same challenges he has.

“I want them to know they don’t have to be a straight-A student,’’ said Minev.

“I want them not just to focus on education, but be well-rounded and have time for friends. Studying is important, but I don’t want them to be stressed about it because they had no other opportunity.’’

Minev will postpone a return to Bulgaria until things improve there economically and politically, and he doesn’t expect that to happen in the next five years.

Instead, Minev will start working for Patriot Energy Group in Woburn, where he will negotiate natural gas and electricity prices between suppliers and clients to maximize efficiency.

In a year, Minev hopes to begin working on his master’s degree from either Columbia University or the University of Pennsylvania.

“He’s very disciplined and diligent,’’ said Niles Logue, an economics and business professor at Gordon who has taught Minev twice in the past four years and has counseled him through his honors thesis. “I think he appreciates that here he’s rewarded on merit, not family.’’

Minev was not the only one to learn something new from his American education.

“In America, we sometimes look at the glass as half empty,’’ said Logue. “Someone like Vlady helps us understand some of the positives.’’

Amanda C. Thompson is a writer with the Gordon College News Service.

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