Participants

The BOOST class of 2018 consists of outstanding graduate students from accross the University, who have been selected in a highly competitive application process. Here are their profiles: 


HAGER ALI is a second-year graduate student at CEU Department of Political Science. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from the Goethe University Frankfurt. Her research interests encompass regime change, military behavior, and research methods. Being born and raised in Germany as daughter of Egyptian immigrants has been formative for her interest in politics, society, and languages. Hager began working as a freelance journalist in 2010 and has written on a variety of topics ranging from renewable energy to transitional justice and Middle East politics. Her articles on a Libyan rebel fighter during the Arab Spring and on Edward Snowden’s attorney building a case against Donald Rumsfeld were particularly influential in her decision to pursue a career in academia. During her undergraduate studies, she was an intern at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt in the Department of Governance and Societal Peace. Alongside her studies at CEU, she co-organized the 2017 World Congress of the International Association for Political Science Students, and continues to write whenever there is an opportunity.


HODJAT ARABI is graduate student at the MS in Environmental Science, Policy and Management Program, an erasmus mundus joint degree at CEU, Lund University, University of Manchester, and University of the Aegean. He also has his own business in environmental, health and safety field in Iran. Hodjat has been active as a freelance human rights and political activists for more than 10 years in Iran. He has completed his first master's degree-MA in International Economics, International Relations and Social Sciences-at American Graduate School in Paris. He also did his bachelor studies in chemical engineering at Petroleum University of Technology in Iran. Hodjat is an active and persistent hard worker. Through his professional endeavours in both business and in human rights activities, he learned that an ambitious person should never give up.  


TATIANA BALABAN is an opera and theatre lover who is passionate about mastering intellectual property law and the mechanism of secured transactions. In 2017, she graduated from the law school in Republic of Moldova and is now pursuing her dreams in Budapest. She have got her master’s scholarship at CEU and since then implemented Napoleon’s sleeping strategy in her daily life, since studying international business law seems to require 30 hours of work a day. Tatiana believes in solutions and not excuses, in good music, unusual experiences, and nonconformist people.


NINA DMITRIEVA is a first-year graduate student at the MA in Economic Policy on Global Markets Program at CEU. Previously, she completed a bachelor degree in World Economy at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. She was an active participant of numerous extra-curricular activities (i.e. case championships, debate classes, etc.), which greatly contributed to her network and interests. During her last year of studies, she did an internship at the e-commerce department of Mars Co. While working at the borderline of marketing and sales, Nina gained useful experience on how to develop company’s products. She also was engaged in international innovation projects with her team. Having grasped the spirit of a huge multinational company, she now seeks to give a boost to her own family business.


TAGUHI HAKOBYAN is a graduate student at CEU Department of Economics and Business and a mathematics graduate of Yerevan State University. She has received rigorous training in economics and related fields. Taguhi was a research economist of the Central Bank of Armenia, where her roles included the analysis of trade and economic effects of Armenian accession to Eurasian Economic Union, and heterogeneity of the level of dollarization in Armenian banking sector. During her four years at the central bank, she also completed MS in Mathematics program at Yerevan State University and participated in numerous conferences, seminars and training programs, including those organized by Joint Vienna Institute and the IMF in Austria. She sees the important role that economic institutions play in the development of a country and strives to become a successful researcher who can find and address true weaknesses of those institutions.


SHIH-HAO HSU is currently pursuing a joint master's program in Public Policy at CEU and the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals. A graduate of applied economics from De la Salle University in the Philippines, Shih-Hao has been a debater competing in tournaments around the world, including in Berlin, Oxford, Cambridge, and Beijing. He was an intern in the Asia Foundation-Manila--an NGO that assists industry experts in promoting pro-development policies Philippines. He has also been active in his family business that links corporations in the Philippines with suppliers in China. He has participated in international business conventions like the Canton Fair and World Expo. Currently, he is working on an empirical research project that would provide linguistic explanations of global policy differences. He hopes that this study will offer a novel, unorthodox approach to bridging political and economic divides between East and West.


VIRGINIE LAROCHE, being Belgian-Haitian, has been deeply influenced and inspired by her bicultural upbringing. She pursues the MSc Program in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management at CEU. She earned a master's degree in international relations and a bachelor’s degree in communication with minor in development studies at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Virginie already has over three years of experience working in community development, corporate social responsibility, water supply & sanitation, and public health, and consulting to the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Virginie is one of the co-founders and managers of the CEU Art Club. The club is dedicated to bring together artists, beginners and art lovers to collaborate with one another, share creative ideas, and organize regular activities to develop their craft. With the help of BOOST, she hopes to learn how to better leverage her multidisciplinary experiences and competencies in her future projects and develop innovative solutions that will make the world fairer, saner, happier, and more sustainable.


ZIVAR MAMMADOVA is  studying in the MA in Economic Policy for Global Markets at CEU. She got her bachelor’s degree in International Economic Relations from Azerbaijan State University of Economics. Her professional goal is to become a consultant in the field of economic development, specifically rural development. For achieving the goal she aims to pursue the working experience in the international organizations or research think tanks.


OSCAR IRANZO MARTINEZ, an optimistic pragmatist at heart, believes in slow but constant change. He is a first-year graduate student of the Mundus MA in Public Policy at CEU and will spend next academic year at University of York in the UK. A graduate in business administration and law from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, he represented his university in the Spanish rounds of the Jessup International Law Moot Competition on case regarding cyber-warfare and espionage amongst states and how it was resolved before an international court. He worked as an intern for two big law firms, Allen & Overy and Uría Menéndez, in the areas of corporate and labor law. He also coordinated for an inter-university Seed Funds Project, financing public health systems via public-private partnerships. Oscar has entered Spanish politics and is a member of the Youth of the Spanish Socialist Party. He is passionate about social justice, anti-corruption, and creating fair and progressive taxation.


PETR KNOR is a passionate explorer and lifelong learner from Prague who attempts to test his limits to understand more about his place in the world. He is currently a second-year political science student at CEU. He received his bachelor's from Middlebury College, USA, where he graduated summa cum laude in international politics and economics as a Davis Scholar. Before CEU, Petr worked as a management consulting analyst for Accenture in Prague. In his free time, he serves as the editor-in-chief of the CEU Weekly, travels across the world, and helps to organize three youth programs that will take place in the summer of 2018. These programs will take place in Belgium, Turkey, and Malta, and they will bring participants from across 30+ countries to deliver leadership self-development training focused on identity, diversity, and social responsibility. In the future, Petr hopes to work in consulting to explore how organizations build high-performing teams, develop their staff members delivering high performance. He aims to use this knowledge to become a better leader and potentially start a business of his own.


NATALIIA KOVALCHUK is a feminist, activist, and PR professional. She earned her MPsy in Kyiv. Upon graduation, she became a part of the system to combat privileges on the basis of gender and sexuality. During her ten-year career in PR, she grew from a PR assistant to a Client Service Director in a top-notch Ukrainian PR agency, ranked #2 in Ukraine. Selected clients were Shell Lubricants, WOG (national network of gas stations), Corporation "Arterium" (pharmacy), GAP, Lirene, OTP credit, Hyundai Motor Ukraine, Caparol, EOS Ukraine, Indigo insurance, Telecommunications Chamber of Ukraine, Volia (national telecom leader), Italmotors Ukraine. Eager to learn more, she undertook an independent study and attended several courses at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Women’s structural inequalities and Foucauldian concepts of power, like normativization, captivated her. Developing her interest in reproductive pressures on women as a mechanism of gender inequality, she realized that she needed to study further. She is now pursuing her master's program at the CEU Department of Gender Studies.


BALAZS LUKACS is a second-year MA Economic Policy student at CEU. He completed his bachelor degree in International Economics at Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Before coming to CEU, Balázs worked at OTP as a Junior Macroeconomic Analyst where his main task was to analyze the Bulgarian economy. His most important contribution to the OTP Research Team was to develop a new econometric model to forecast the Bulgarian GDP. Balázs also had the opportunity to prove his leadership capabilities when he successfully supervised the Economic Modeling Team for LisKaLand 2017, an economic simulation camp based around the ideas of free enterprise and universal basic income. Outside the professional sphere Balázs, has a wide range of interests from space exploration to playing guitar, but his main passion is for history, particularly the medieval period.



ESZTER PÁLVÖLGYI-POLYÁK is a committed student of international relations, who fell in love with China while living in Hangzhou. She holds a BA in Chinese studies from Eötvös Loránd University and an MA in East Asian Studies at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and Corvinus University of Budapest. Before coming to CEU, she spent two years working at Pallas Athene Geopolitical Foundation as a junior researcher of East Asian affairs, Chinese foreign policy, and economic relations. She wants to focus on novel approaches to foreign assistance, especially in South-South relations, and aims to bridge the understanding of certain IR concepts in Western and East Asian scholarship. Eszter is also passionate about Asian food cultures and believes that sharing meals is the best way to get acquainted with a culture. In the future, she plans to test her abilities on the ground, working for an NGO engaged in development, but also wants to continue her academic work.


NEMANJA PREDOJEVIC is a graduate student of Economic Policy at CEU, where he received the CEU Master’s Excellence Scholarship. Previously, he has completed undergraduate studies in applied mathematics at Novi Sad University in Serbia. At the moment, Nemanja is working at McKinsey & Co. office in Budapest as a FinTech Analyst Intern where he engages in analytical tasks and develops his understanding of innovation that is shaping the future of finance. Prior to CEU, he had worked as a trainee in the European Integration and Economic Section of the EU Delegation to Serbia where he was tasked with the monitoring and analyzing of Serbia’s economic policies with regard to the EU accession process. He is a passionate cyclist and enjoys music festivals.


ASEL RAIYMBEKOVA is a second year graduate student majoring in Economic Policy and Global markets program at CEU. She received her BA in economics from the American University of Central Asia. Currently, Asel is enjoying working as a Risk Management Intern at Morgan Stanley in Budapest. Besides her professional experience in private and governmental organizations, she has participated and organized numerous volunteering events which focused on the problems of low education, environmental issues and gender inequality. She believes she can make the world a better place. Asel is an inquisitive person who truly tries to make the most out of each opportunity she earns. She is very passionate about broadening her baggage of knowledge. In her free time, she enjoys watching short documentaries, reading books, articles and listening to music.  


LUKAS T. SCHMIDT is currently a student of a joint master's program in Public Policy at CEU and the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals. A graduate of political science and public policy from the University of Mannheim, Lukas has committed himself to numerous political and social causes. A former chairman of Mannheim’s Christian Democratic Students Association, member of the Student Parliament and consultant to the Student Union, he actively shaped university life by introducing night buses from campus, increasing recycling efforts and organising political events. Lukas is actively involved in party politics and has been actively campaigning for the CDU at city, state and federal levels. He is passionate about environmental policy and has gained practical experience through internships at the EU and in the German government as well as the communication consultancy Hering Schuppener Consulting.


STEFAN STOJKOVIC is an MA student in Nationalism Studies at CEU. Previously, he completed bachelor and master studies in psychology at University of Novi Sad, Serbia. Before coming to CEU, Stefan dedicated a large amount of his time to informal education. Both in his home country and abroad, he attended a number of schools and seminars that dealt with a variety of social issues, including political and voting behaviour, cultural identities, and education. Given his particular interests in politics and public engagement, Stefan did a six-month long internship in the provincial government, Secretariat for Education, Regulations, Administration, and National Minorities. He was also third in Serbia’s Oratorical Competition. During his time at CEU, he hopes to acquire skills to conduct rigorous research, to specify his professional focus, and to be more competent and active in taking part in the public space. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, reading about politics, and watching political and historical documentaries.


AGOTA UNGER is studying Medieval Studies at CEU. A licensed tour guide, she would like to combine her skills in the field of tourism. Her aim with BOOST is to initiate a startup with my partner, which organizes thematic excursions with a private jet for small groups. These themes may vary based on the interest of the guests (e.g. skiing in the Alps, art historical roundtrip in the “Renaissance Western Europe”). To pursue this dream, she will be working to design a viable and original business plan that will draw the attention of an investor.


SAMTEN YESHI is a two-year master's student of Cultural Heritage Studies: Policy, Planning and Management at CEU. He grew up in a rural Bhutan immersed in a strong cultural atmosphere. After high school, he studied Buddhist philosophy in a Tibetan monastic college for six years which allowed him to understand the philosophical aspect of the Bhutanese culture whose belief system is deeply rooted in Buddhism. Committed to understanding and preserving cultural and natural values and their heritage, he mostly covered cultural pieces when he worked as journalist working for national newspaper of Bhutan for seven years. Since 2013 and prior to joining CEU, he worked in the first nationwide cultural documentation project in Bhutan. With enthusiasm for culture and nature, he sees himself as a cultural anthropologist equipped with management and strategic solutions for sustainable nature and culture for contemporary Bhutan.