четвъртък, 21 май 2020 г.

Veselina Tomova
American English Academy in Sofia ‘20
EducaionUSA Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria Grant Recipient
New York University in Abu Dhabi, Class of 2024

My Way to NYUAD: A Success Story 

                   College interview, conducted by Fulbright ED Angela Rodel

My name is Veselina Tomova, and I am part of the Opportunity Funds program*. I study at the American English Academy in Sofia. Last month, I was accepted in New York University in Abu Dhabi to study biology. This offer made me extremely happy because the university is highly selective, with a 2% acceptance rate, and I was offered a full merit scholarship, which even included personal and travel expenses. I had a chance to see NYU Abu Dhabi’s modern campus this February when I was invited to Candidate Weekend at the expense of the university. And I fell in love with the facilities and the peaceful atmosphere. 

Getting here wasn’t easy at all. But to make it a little bit easier on you, I want to share my story. 

Coming from an American high school, I always knew that I wanted to continue my education in an American university. It was just natural. So, I began my standardized-test preparation very early. I think I was in ninth grade when I took my first SAT Subject Test in U.S. History. When I got an 800, I was motivated even further. Later on, I took four more SAT Subject Tests—Biology E, World History, Literature, and Math Level 1—and the SAT itself, of course, on which I got a 1550. And I also managed to squeeze in two AP exams. 

Even though I began preparing before I joined Opportunity Funds, I learned a lot from my participation. All the information that I received as part of the program was invaluable and helped me immensely during the application process. 

Actually, even before I became a part of Opportunity Funds, I had joined Mrs. Teneva’s mailing list, which was full of useful tips and advice. It was from there that I learned about taking online courses and organizing my resume. The program built on all that, offering three Modules with in-depth preparation for the TOEFL, SAT, and the personal statement. The third one was especially useful for me in terms of actually writing the personal statement, filling out the Common App and the CSS Profile (the financial aid document), and navigating the interview. Believe me, the application process is very specific, and without assistance from someone who knows the ins and outs, it can be quite challenging to complete. Luckily, we had Snezhana Teneva’s steady guidance to help us throughout the program. I'm also thankful to Opportunity Funds for bringing me in touch with so many like-minded people who were all striving to reach the same goal. It was amazing to share this journey with others like me.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is to start your standardized-test preparation as soon as possible, around two years in advance. Admissions committees want well-rounded individuals for their universities. So, whenever possible, I would also recommend taking SAT Subject Tests from different fields. For example, if you’re applying to study science, it’s a good idea not only to take SAT Subject Tests in science, but also another one in social studies or languages as well, and vice versa. This way you can show the admissions committee that you have an interest and aptitude in different fields. I think this was one of the strong points in my application. 

It’s also important to choose your universities well in advance. Take their programs, activities, and focus into consideration when making your decision. After you’ve made your selection, your next task is to get well-acquainted with them. Knowing relevant information about your universities will come in handy during interviews and when you’re writing “Why this university?” essays in the application. 

American universities, unlike Bulgarian or even European ones, place great weight on extracurricular activities and community involvement. They want to accept you not just because of your grades, but because of who you really are as a person. So, your job is to show them. Attend competitions or Olympiads or anything else like that to showcase your skills, and engage with societal issues that you’re passionate about. Remember that all of your application elements have to align perfectly like puzzle pieces to form a bigger picture that represents the real you

Maybe everything I’ve said so far has intimidated you. But even though this process is time-consuming and arduous, believe me, it is incredibly rewarding. The hard part is sticking through it all the way to the end. I just hope that my experience and advice could lighten the burden and help you achieve your goals. Good luck!

* The Fulbright Commission and EducationUSA launched the U.S. State Department-funded Opportunity Funds program in Bulgaria in February 2016. The program provides financial resources to highly qualified, yet economically challenged, Bulgarian students to cover the up-front costs of applying to U.S. universities, such as testing, application fees, or airfare. In addition to their impressive academic achievements, Opportunity students also bring cultural and socio-economic diversity to U.S. campuses.

вторник, 31 март 2020 г.

Kristabel Konta
American College of Sofia ‘20
EducationUSA Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria Grant Recipient
Dartmouth College, Class of 2024

My Way to Dartmouth: A Success Story

My name is Kristabel Konta, and I am one of the Dartmouth 24s, as we are called. The thought of this is just as incredible as the long way any student should go in order to get to their dream school.

I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned form a very young age what value does an international outlook hold. After spending seven years in a Russian school /133 rd Al. S. Pushkin/, I was admitted to the American College of Sofia with a full scholarship for the duration of my education. It is hard for me to synthesise all the benefits I received from studying at this high school, but here are those that brought me to EducationUSA at the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission and my  dream of studying at Dartmouth.

Ever since I set foot at ACS, I knew that your high school years are not simply the time to identify your interests but also to do your best to pursue them from early age. Among the extracurriculars that I had the chance to take part in, I learned that there are indeed many options to choose from both in and outside of the classroom, yet if you don’t find the place where you would fit in the most - create it. I created a club at ACS, a club through which I organized two editions of an event that was new for Bulgaria, and during every single college interview I had this club as one of the main topics. Admissions officers and alumni love to hear about how you have benefited from the already existing, but also what have you done when you haven’t found what you were looking for.

Jumping onto the application process - it began for me in Grade 11 when I became a part of the Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria Program at the Fulbright Commission*. This was the time when I attended visits by College reps, binge watched tons of online campus tours, and stalked their social media accounts. The time I invested in these activities was the reason why I was certain that my final college list was a reflection of what I hope to experience in my undergraduate studies. I attended all three one-week sessions of the Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria Program, and they prepared me not only for the college academic expectations for a competitive applicant, but I also got to see first-hand what it was to fill-in financial documents, write college application essays, participate in interviews and many more. Here I would like to add that these camps were just as professional as they were friendly and fun, and the memories and friends you make there have the full potential to become long-lasting.

However, regardless of the hours you spend working during the camps or the college presentations you attend, in the end everything is in your own hands and depends on the time during which you are committed to editing essays, seeking opportunities for interviews, and communicating with the Admissions office. I have to admit that it is hard (still not impossible) to complete all work in the Fall. Applications are indeed important, yet in order for them to be of the highest quality you need to keep a good academic record, which could be put at risk if you start juggling between school and college work in the middle of October. Please, write as many essays as possible in the summer :)

As much as applying is stressful and you hope to complete everything on time, believe me - waiting for the results of your work is harder. Never start doubting yourself during these times - you have poured your emotions in every single one of your applications, and the admissions officers will see it. March is the month of revelations with the Ivies coming out always in the very last days, but do your best not to focus your full attention on the upcoming results - this would cause you unnecessary anxiety.

In the end - believe in yourself . This whole process is hard to believe or forget, but it is always unquestionably worthy - you will learn much about yourself, draw some conclusions about your past, and find your goals for the future.

Here are some of my final tips:
·         if you are struggling to see yourself in a certain university, try contacting current students → they have the most recent experience to share with you;
·         for questions such as: What three words describe you?, ask your closest friends for suggestions → they have seen the most true side of you;
·         if you think that a certain activity is not that impressive as you have described it → don’t try to exaggerate your achievements, rather talk not only about what you did but also why you invested so much in doing it; let them see the purpose behind your decisions.

* The Fulbright Commission and EducationUSA launched the U.S. State Department-funded Opportunity Funds program in Bulgaria in February 2016. The program provides financial resources to highly qualified, yet economically challenged, Bulgarian students to cover the up-front costs of applying to U.S. universities, such as testing, application fees, or airfare. In addition to their impressive academic achievements, Opportunity students also bring cultural and socio-economic diversity to U.S. campuses.

вторник, 6 ноември 2018 г.

Конкурс за стипендии

„Opportunity Funds – Bulgaria“ 2019

10 стипендии в размер до $5,000 всяка

за ученици в 11 клас
Краен срок за подаване на документи:

2 януари 2019 г.

За четвърта поредна година, Комисия „Фулбрайт” обявява конкурс за стипендии по програмата “Opportunity Funds – Bulgaria” за 2019 г. Програмата се финансира изцяло от Правителството на САЩ (Бюрото за образователни и културни дейности към Държавния департамент на САЩ) и Американското посолство в България и се осъществява от Консултантския център при Комисия „Фулбрайт”. Ще бъдат дадени 10 стипендии в размер до $5,000 всяка за подготовка на талантливи ученици от 11 клас за кандидатстване в акредитирани американски колежи и университети и отпътуване в САЩ. Постиженията на участниците в програмата Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria от 2016 и 2017 година са впечатляващи: 13 американски висши училища предложиха прием с общ размер на стипендиите близо 3 милиона и 400 хиляди щатски долара ($847,553/годишно x 4 учебни години). Настоящите студенти изучават психология, икономика, космическо инженерство, природни науки, биология и био-химия, електро- и компютърно инженерство, архитектура, математика, филмова режисура.

Прочетете техните вдъхновяващи истории на успеха.

For High School Juniors and Seniors

Success Stories

Kaloyan Valchev

AY2016-17 Opportunity Student

Doctor Petar Beron High School of Mathematics, Varna
                   Northwestern University, IL, USA                     Economics & Business

I am currently a sophomore at Northwestern University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Business.  I love every aspect of my college life and I consider my experience a huge success so far.  I live on-campus in one of the nicest dorms which was completely renovated just two years ago.  Academics can sometimes be overwhelming, especially at a top-notch university which uses the quarter system.  There are exams, quizzes, papers, and homework assignments more or less all the time, depending on the program and the courses.  Strategy and time management are key, and that is why I love how academics work at Northwestern. 
Culture shock?  Seriously?  I had no such thing at all.  It does take some time to get into the rhythm of the university, but it comes naturally.  Socializing was much easier than I expected.  I never felt any disadvantages being international.  In addition, it takes only fifteen minutes to walk from one end of the campus to the other, so I meet friends all the time and everywhere: in class, at the dorms, at the dining halls, or walking between the buildings.  I was surprised how friendly and approachable faculty members are.  All one needs is to be open-minded, because everyone is unique and contributes to the Northwestern community in a distinct way.  
Extracurricular activities are another important part of my college life.  There is an on-campus organization for every type of student.  As a former tennis player, I quickly stepped into the management of the Northwestern Tennis Club and cannot be happier about it.  Once I wanted to play at the varsity level, but now I realize that being a leader among friends who share the same passion is much more valuable and enjoyable than being an instrument in the hands of a varsity coach.  It was also not difficult for me to become a VP of the Investment Management Club, a career-oriented organization which assists future investors. 
I was not looking for an on-campus job, but the job found me anyways.  Northwestern Recreation invited me to become an assistant coach in tennis, and as of now I spend eight hours per week working with a variety of players, from middle school to seniors.  This job is a great way for me to take a break from studying and put some money aside.  
I love Northwestern’s location in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, on the coast of Lake Michigan.  The scenery resembles that of my home city of Varna, except for the skyscrapers.  That gives me strength.  I was initially nostalgic about Bulgarian food, but there turned out to be a few Eastern European shops and restaurants not far away from the Northwestern campus.
Who knew that being admitted to and thriving in a top-tier university was so easy?  Well, not per se, but once you have the right ingredients, you are almost there.  Many successful students share similar ambitions and qualifications.  Some of these, like me, feel the vast support of their families.  But only about a dozen per year get the chance to be sponsored by the Opportunity Funds Bulgaria program.  More specifically, OF helped me navigate the entire application process, from the exams, through the essays and documents, to my first footprints on Northwestern territory.  Being selected as an OF scholar implies my potential to be successful in a world-class university, but my family and I would have never been able to figure out each and every necessary step to our final destination on our own. The financial support that OF offered also played a huge role in my success story.  My family and I are extremely thankful to the US Department of State, to Fulbright, Education USA and everyone involved in the organization of Opportunity Funds Bulgaria, and especially to Ms Snejana Teneva who showed us the way to success.  Without the Opportunity Funds Bulgaria program, I would have never been able to enjoy a single minute of my Northwestern experience.

Disclaimer: The text is published in its original and unedited version.

      Opportunity student            Kaloyan with his father at Northwestern

                                The Tennis Club team 


                   Kaloyan with Willie the Wildcat at Ryan Field  
For High School Juniors and Seniors

Success Stories

Aleksandrina Dimova
AY2016-17 Opportunity Student
Ivan Vazov Language High School, Plovdiv
NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE

My name is Aleksandrina Dimova and I am a second-year student at New York University Abu Dhabi. I had the privilege of being among the first twelve Bulgarian high school students who were selected to participate in the Opportunity Funds Bulgaria program in 2016-2017. The program’s resources and the guidance it provided have helped me become part of the prestigious and highly selective institution I attend now. Although I chose to pursue my undergraduate degree in an American university located in the United Arab Emirates and not the United States, which was one of the goals of the program, I have successfully fulfilled another major goal of Opportunity Funds: a scholarship covering 100% of my university expenses. I have secured my place in one of the main campuses of the largest American research university and I am thus taking steps toward my dream of becoming an eating disorder psychologist while having unique opportunities to explore new cultures and travel across the Global Network of New York University.
Opportunity Funds Bulgaria has helped me achieve this by providing support in several major ways. A crucial aspect of the program has been the funding it gives to students from low-income backgrounds. These financial resources are crucial for the successful application process because standardized tests such as the SAT I, SAT II, and iBT TOEFL could be a serious – sometimes even unbearable – burden for low-income families which simply lack the finances to afford them. But the Opportunity Funds Bulgaria program does much more than simply paying exam fees. The three immersive one-week modules included in the program have been very helpful for my academic preparation for the standardized tests because they gave me the opportunity to learn from highly qualified instructors, including Fulbright fellow Sophia Kleinsasser whose feedback has been extremely helpful for the process of writing a successful Common Application essay.
Every module has also provided salient advice about applying to American colleges and universities by incorporating presentations and other activities related to selecting institutions to apply to and crafting a competitive application. This process has been facilitated by the amazing EducationUSA advisor Snejana Teneva who has been an irreplaceable source of support throughout the program. She has also contributed to making the modules entertaining and engaging by adding sports and other activities we could participate in. Although the focus of all modules has been success in the application process, a valuable aspect of them and the program as a whole is the community which is created. Opportunity Funds has gathered a small group of top students who all receive the support and advice they need while also learning to support and learn from one another. The one-week modules of Opportunity Funds Bulgaria have given me the first glimpse of college life by placing me in an environment where I live and study with a small group of exceptionally intelligent and hard-working individuals who pursue similar goals while learning and growing in the process.
Opportunity Funds Bulgaria 2016-2017 has been a valuable and enjoyable experience which has prepared me for success in the process of applying to American colleges and universities and beyond. I hope it will continue supporting other low-income students on their path to success in American higher education.

Disclaimer: The text is published in its original and unedited version.

                                         Opportunity student

                                     Marhaba 2017

For High School Juniors and Seniors

Success Stories

Snezhina Kancheva

                         AY2016-17 Opportunity Student                        
Prof. Dr. Assen Zlatarov FLS, Veliko Turnovo
                         Yale-NUS College in Singapore                         
Life Sciences

My name is Snezhina and I am currently a sophomore at Yale-NUS College in Singapore with a prospective major – Life Sciences. Two years ago, I intended to continue my education in a US higher institution and therefore, I applied to thirteen colleges in the US. While finishing up my application to Yale on Common Application, I found out about Yale-NUS by what we call the “check-the-box option”. I found the idea of pursuing a liberal arts degree in Asia so appealing that I deleted my Yale application and applied to Yale-NUS instead and I was accepted!

How did the Opportunity Funds scholarship help me get to where I am now?

In fact, I had never thought of applying to the US, let alone Singapore, before receiving the Opportunity Funds scholarship. That was partially because I used to live in a very unsupportive community in which success is confined to achieving a degree from a German higher institution.  Other exotic destinations beyond the borders of the Federal Republic are considered unreachable. Consequently, one is restricted to pursue their studies in disciplines offered in public German universities which might not necessarily align with their own passions.
However, the support I received from the other Opportunity Funds scholarship recipients motivated me to undertake an “unusual” life path that brought me to where I am now. I would also like to acknowledge Snejana Teneva’s enormous contribution to our SAT and TOEFL preparation as well as her wonderful advice for successful college applications. Without those people and the sponsorship of Opportunity Funds I wouldn’t have taken up a major that I love in a college that encourages personal growth and accomplishment.

Disclaimer: The text is published in its original and unedited version.

 Opportunity student

My suitemates and I during an official college dinner for the start of the semester

For High School Juniors and Seniors

Success Stories

Gabriela Radeva
AY2016-17 Opportunity Student
St. Patriarch Evtimii High School, Plovdiv
Loughborough University, UK
International Relations

My name is Gabriela Radeva. I am a second-year International Relations student at Loughborough University, United Kingdom. The University is quite large with 17 000 students, mostly undergraduates. It is located in Loughborough, a small university town in the Midlands. I personally love the town because even though it does offer the great opportunity to go out and spend time with friends, it still remains quiet and perfect for people who want to focus on their studies.
The university offers the best student experience in the UK, starting with the Loughborough Student’s Union (LSU), which is a great place to take part in a variety of societies and feel like you belong. The Careers Network helps students with their career-related issues, whether it is a CV or job prospect opportunities. Because of the large campus there is a shuttle bus that takes students from the LSU to our own STEM lab, fitness facilities and the Pilkington Library. The library is a four storey building with tons of study places for individual or group work. The library provides a wide range of courses to enhance student skills (Microsoft Office, essay writing, studying, etc.) and in order to make the student experience within the library easier, there is a subject specialist in each area who helps students find what they are looking for.
International Relations is a great field for people like me who still struggle to find the right place. It gives a lot of career opportunities depending on the modules students choose for themselves. Loughborough gives the opportunity to choose 1 optional module each semester in the first year as well as the second and third. They are usually from the Business, Language and Media departments. My field, unlike others, gives the opportunity to choose all modules in the second-year with only one core module per semester. This helps shape the field in a way you want it to be. However, since it is in the Politics and International Relations department, module choices are of course focused on those fields. I personally will be pursuing a career in the Public Relations field.
The Opportunity Funds and Snejana Teneva helped me a lot with the application process when I was applying to universities all over the USA. Their support helped navigate my applications in the right direction, to the right university and to the most suitable subject area for me.
My fellow Opportunity Funds students also contributed to the overall experience. We have shared each other’s knowledge whether it is through reviewing each other’s essays or helping one another with the Math or English sections of the SAT.
I am yet to achieve my dreams, but it is needless to say that the experience that the Opportunity Funds program offered me has played a vital role in choosing the right path for my education regardless of the fact that I am not currently studying in the USA.
Opportunity Funds is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not only contributes to a student’s pre-university preparation, but also helps boost their confidence and teamwork skills. The connections I have made through the program with both my fellow students and Ms. Teneva have proven to be long-lasting and of immense value.

Disclaimer: The text is published in its original and unedited version.

    Visit to Nottingham     Opportunity student (first from right to left)

First snow on the Loughborough University campus

For High School Juniors and Seniors

Success Stories

Radoslav Bonev
AY2016-17 Opportunity Student
Petko Rachev Slaveikov Secondary School, Tryavna
New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria
Computer Science

            It is a pleasure for me to tell my story about how the Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria program helped me prepare for my future academic path and embrace the challenge of constantly pushing myself. This is how I developed my knowledge and discovered new opportunities.
            The Opportunity Funds program engaged me in a vivid environment with other students who were highly motivated and top-achievers in their areas. This encouraged me to establish my goals more clearly and prepared me to pursue them. The program was designed to cover essential topics developing my academic skills and the logistics behind the choice of my educational path.
            As an Opportunity student, I was given the opportunity to meet other like-minded students who were also passionate about what they were doing. We could always find interesting topics to talk about because every person in the group was looking for a way to improve her/himself. I could learn how my peers organized their schedules, how they approached the problems they faced, how they combined their academic life with their extracurricular activities, etc. I could debate with them over various topics and analyze different situations. This helped me become more aware of different points of view.
            Once I was put in a setting where practically everyone as at the top of her/his class I reminded myself that it takes a tremendous amount of effort to stay competitive. I set new goals for myself. I learned about the many opportunities which are present to us. This had a huge impact on me as I found out how much I loved to talk about the area I worked in – Computer Science.
            The Opportunity Funds program helped me both academically, and financially. I would say that I would never be able to improve myself so much without the support I received from the program. The first steps are always the most difficult ones. Opportunity Funds helped me take them. We were supervised by experienced mentors and were provided with the most up-to-date materials. Although the courses were rigorous, we had just enough time to relax and have fun.
            In conclusion, I would say that the Opportunity Funds program had a major impact on my professional and personal development. It influenced my further decisions. I am convinced that it provided me with the tools I needed to make the right choices for me. I really appreciate the support which the program gave me and I hope that I will have many more opportunities soon.

Disclaimer: The text is published in its original and unedited version.

четвъртък, 23 август 2018 г.

For High School Juniors and Seniors

OF Admissions, AY2018-2022
Elena Stoeva
Dr. Peter Beron High School of Mathematics, Varna
Cornell University, NY, USA
Electrical and Computer Engineering
AY 2018-2022

            Successful Common Application Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

Prompt #2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Summer Physics camp in Bulgaria's picturesque mountains has given me some of my fondest memories over the last three years. It's been a camp not limited to acquiring knowledge, but a joyous place for bonding too, where trust and will are often tested. The highlight is the hiking day, when we go to Raiskoto Praskalo, “the heavenly waterfall”, and those of us who have strength and courage to continue trek to Botev Peak. In my first two camps, I didn’t ascend the summit as I didn’t believe I could do it. This year, though, I went to the camp with my friend Edy who convinced me to try.

The big day came. Ironically, Edy and I missed the group in the morning because we overslept. After an hour of hurrying, we caught up with them on the trail, just before they reached the waterfall. The start of our trek was nothing more than a light stroll; we enjoyed the awe-inspiring mountain landscape, took many pictures, and laughed, while a soft breeze caressed our faces. Despite my legs quivering after two hours on the steep path, I was still motivated to climb the peak; however, after four hours had passed, we were a little over half way and doubtful thoughts entered my head. Beyond the vertiginous track ahead, the ridge appeared like a mere speck on the distant horizon. The worst thing was that we couldn’t go back because it was too steep and perilous to walk back down the slope. In moments like these, friends come to help: Edy grasped my hand and said, "Keep going, you can do it!" After he literally dragged me for some time, stopping every 5 feet, I became desperate and even started to cry. The peak still seemed miles away from us. Instead of getting angry, as I had thought he would, Edy stayed with me and continued encouraging me to go on. It was already 3 pm, and we had more than 7 hours left to reach the top and get back to our campsite. I had two options: to tough it out and continue or to stop at every step, complaining that my entire body hurt, and end up having to spend the night on the mountain. The second option sounded quite unpleasant, so I had to go on even though I felt feeble.

I began counting my steps as I trudged along. I promised myself that I would not stop until I had taken 100 steps.  And I succeeded: I went 100 steps and took a small break. Then Edy and I came to an agreement: we'd pause every 100 steps to rest, but while walking, we could not stop. What helped me the most was that I was focusing on my feet the whole time, and I never looked up. Suddenly, I lifted my head and realized that I had reached the top! I couldn’t believe it. It turned out that the more I stared at it, the more afraid I was that it was too far away. When we arrived at the station on the peak, elated by our achievement, we took a break and drank hot tea. On the way back, everything went well, except that we got lost several times in the woods; nevertheless, we made it back to the campsite, bone-weary but content.

We all have our own peak; this is our future, our highest goal, our dream. The mountain trail is our life full of difficulties and obstacles. And the happiest ones have Edy: our family and friends who support us along the way. This experience taught me that I shouldn’t look too far into the future as it will overwhelm me. Instead, I ought to divide my journey into smaller steps and strive to take each one. Eventually, without even noticing it, I will have achieved my goal. 

The text is published in its original and unedited version.

Elena (right, in the middle), presents on Applying to Highly Selective U.S. Universities 
at the Summer Physics Camp near Kalofer

Cornell University Essay

Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities… the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in.

After four years of studying physics and participating in physics competitions, a twisted turn of events unexpectedly propelled me into the world of engineering.

This summer I was selected to take part in the High-School Student Internship Program (HSSIP) at CERN. During this two-week internship, I worked on the ISOLTRAP experiment located in ISOLDE, the laboratory for fundamental research with radioactive ion beams. ISOLTRAP is a high-precision mass spectrometer and my task was to measure the mass of Cs-133, operating with Penning traps and Multi-Reflection Time-Of-Flight devices. Even more, I had the unique opportunity to work with engineers at ISOLDE, to attend their meetings, and to identify solutions to problems along with them. What attracted me most was the freedom that they had to design their own creations and to bring them to life. Then I realized that I don’t want to study pure physics, but instead, I want to learn how to apply it to the real world because there is nothing as incredible as seeing physics in action. Furthermore, I found out that many scientific discoveries would be impossible without the work of engineers. The Higgs boson, for instance, would be nothing more than a theory without the Large Hadron Collider.

My love for science and desire to study engineering drove my interest toward accelerator engineering. I aspire to learn how to design, construct, and operate these machines; even more, I wish to work on optimizing and improving them, creating a new generation of particle accelerators.

All the accelerators we have now, whether circular or linear, are very massive and expensive machines (LHC is 27 km long) that function with the same “conventional” technology: using an electric field to accelerate particles (usually electrons, protons, or ions) within a vacuum tube. Employing this technology, we can increase the kinetic energy of the particles in two ways: by using the same accelerating structure over and over again, which is actually a circular collider (but then there will be problems with the magnetic strength and synchrotron radiation), or to increase the electric field strength (which will damage the machine). So, we need to find a new way to make the accelerators smaller but more powerful at the same time, striving to reach high energy with a lesser amount of exerted synchrotron radiation. To solve this problem we can use a known ionized gas: plasma. I think this would be the best solution for two main reasons: firstly, because plasma can support huge electric fields so we can get higher energy without damaging the machine, and secondly, this approach enables construction of much smaller particle accelerators than the conventional ones. In this way, accelerator technology will be optimized and could be globally used in many spheres such as medicine, research, and energy supply. For example, Hadron Therapy uses accelerated beams of protons and ions to treat tumor cells like cancer, ensuring higher accuracy and more cost-efficient treatment.

Plasma-based accelerators and their applications are something I wish to work on at the Cornell Laboratory For Accelerator-based Science with the assistance of distinguished professors such as Joel Brock and Donald Bilderback. Moreover, the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) is an excellent facility which would give me a comprehensive knowledge of x-ray techniques and hands-on experience so I will be skillful enough to design and construct advanced technology, which can be used for experimental investigation, and, hopefully, will lead to new scientific discoveries.  As Professor Joel Brock stated, “… CHESS enables science. That is what we do. We give scientists tools and x-ray techniques that drive advances in our understanding of biological, electronic, and structural materials at the atomic scale.” There are many future challenges for accelerator engineering and I believe that Cornell is the best place for me to tackle them, and who knows, maybe Cornell could one day be the place where dark matter will be explained or extra dimensions will be found.

The text is published in its original and unedited version.

Elena (first from right to left) at the Opportunity Funds-Bulgaria training in the village of Lozen near Sofia