On May 23rd, the community of the College celebrated the Class of 2022. The Commencement Ceremony brought together the friends and families of the Seniors, the faculty and staff of the College, as well as members from the ACS Board of Trustees.
The Class of 2022 received their diplomas with well deserved pomp and circumstance: as ACS President Dr. Richard Ewing remarked, this is the class that went through the most challenges in the recent history of the College. Members of the Class of 2022 aided in the Strategic Planning and the MSA Accreditation processes, they were the first class which studied under an entirely new curriculum and did so in many different forms of learning due to the pandemic.
The 26th class to graduate ACS since the reopening of the school leaves behind a legacy of innovation: the graduates of 2022 expanded the work of the SCIFI makerspace, pioneered new initiatives as leaders of the Student Council, and secured new partnerships with organizations worldwide through their participation in competitions, conferences and hackathons. Dr. Ewing shared remarks from their teachers to highlight these achievements, accomplished in times of great adversity.
The seniors were also greeted by Ms. Theodora Konetsovska ’97, Chair of the ACS Board of Trustees: “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. For me and my fellow trustees, supporting you in any way we can is how we light candles. Please know that wherever you go next we are behind you, cheering you on and making sure you shine your brightest. And maybe one day you’ll start lighting your own candles.” In her conclusion she challenged the seniors to “keep on shining.”
There to express her admiration for the hard work and dedication of the graduating seniors was H.E. Herro Mustafa, Ambassador of the US to Bulgaria. She shared invaluable advice: “Set your goals high. Raise your hand. Be proactive and chase your goals. Never give up, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something.”
The keynote address was delivered by Ms. Angela Rodel, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission and leading translator of Bulgarian literature in English. She opened her speech with a powerful performance of a Bulgarian reaping folk song and charged the Class of 2022 to use their voices with courage and passion, just like their ancestors. “ACS has taught you not only to speak English, but to listen, towrite, to argue, to persuade, to inspire, in short to hone your authentic voice, in both your native and adopted language. I hope you use the incredible education you received at the American College of Sofia to become the eloquent leaders we so desperately need in Bulgaria, Europe and the US to build a more just and equitable society.”
ACS Trustee and alumnus Nedko Kyuchukov ’03 also greeted the graduates on behalf of the Alumni community. In his inspirational remarks, he highlighted the importance of celebrating not only one’s achievements but also one’s failures which build character: “As you go out into the world, don't be afraid to fail bravely. But believe that you have the strength to get back up on your feet, hopefully just a little bit smarter than before you fell, and your failures will become your most important and rewarding experiences.”
In her address, valedictorian Lilia Chatalbasheva ’22 expressed her gratitude towards the teachers, administrators and staff, as well as the grander ACS community for making her studies a memorable experience. She congratulated her classmates for successfully completing high school and shared the most important lesson she learned at ACS: how to pursue happiness - “Always look on the bright side of life.” She wished her classmates to follow this simple yet life-changing advice.