American University of Central Asia - AUCA - SPOTLIGHTS


Nilufar Shukrikhudoeva

AUCA Alumna 2011, International and Comparative Politics

Nilufar Shukrikhudoeva is an AUCA alumna from the graduating class of 2011; she graduated as one of the strongest students in the International and Comparative Politics department. After AUCA, Nilufar graduated from the OSCE Academy and studied at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and currently is continuing her education at Oxford University.

My name is Nilufar Shukrikhudoeva and I am a proud 2011 alumna of AUCA.

AUCA is among the few higher education establishments in the region, which offer a social science education. I wanted an exposure to a variety of subjects, rather than focus on one particular area. The interdisciplinary approach was quite appealing. I ended up majoring in International and Comparative Politics and almost minoring in Law, had it not been for my sophomore year spent abroad. I did a year of exchange with Global UGRAD in America. I was reluctant to lose a year and decided to transfer all my credits, which did not allow me to fulfill the requirements for my minor. Nevertheless, I got a great deal of insight into Law under the supervision of Elida Nogoibaeva. This would later prove crucial in choosing my current course of study.

Though I don’t dwell on the great three years spent at AUCA, I will always have warm memories of my alma mater. It was there that I laid the foundation for my further studies. It was there that I learnt to be braver, critical, and more open-minded. It was there that I met my closest friends, whose friendship is absolutely invaluable for me. It is a place I am proud to mention be it in class, on my social network pages, or when casually talking to classmates at Oxford.

What do I remember the most? I guess the social life. Though I was never active in terms of participating in the events, the atmosphere was always all-consuming. These events were an integral part of our academic year. My junior year I got engaged - albeit against my will, in the Tajiks’ delegation rehearsal for Diversity Week. While hiding backstage, I narrated the fairy-tale. If I recall correctly it was Kolobok that year. I went on to do the same thing my senior year. I even got a certificate as the best narrator. Frankly speaking, I was rather honored.

It was small moments like Diversity Week, midterm and final exams frenzy, Bravo, and so many more that make AUCA unforgettable. And of course the faculty! Transition to other programs has always been smooth and easy for me. Even when I decided to embark on a journey that was unrelated to my studies at AUCA, thanks to my professors, I was able to implement my knowledge and skill acquired while studying there. The three years proved sufficient for me to go on and pursue studies at other universities. The flexibility, the modern approach, the quality of the education can compete with leading universities of the West. I have never regretted my decision to apply and study at AUCA.

Upon graduating I went on to study at the OSCE Academy. I got my Master of Arts in Politics and Security a year later. As part of the program I did an internship at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Geneva, Switzerland. While at the Academy I applied for University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in London. I was accepted to both schools and had a tough decision to make between the two. I chose the latter. I had always wanted to live and study in London. I spent two years at the IIS studying Islamic Studies and Humanities. While on the course I successfully applied for LSE and Oxford to pursue further studies. This time the decision was less pressuring. I recently got married and started my course at Oxford University. I am currently studying Master of Public Policy at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.

Studying at AUCA is not much different from universities in the West. I remember how astonished I was when I started college in the US. The learning environment was never as challenging as that of AUCA. Nevertheless, not all professors are as demanding at AUCA. As students we were always complaining about the reading assignments and papers. In fact, though, the requirements never exceeded our possibilities. I believe lecturers at AUCA should be more demanding (I bet at this points most students resent me). I remember one time Chris Rickleton gave me a rather poor grade for a paper. I was devastated. However, it was a wake-up call. I realized if I am to continue my education in the leading universities, I ought to strive more. Chris demanded more and I worked more. Needless to say, my strenuous efforts paid off and I got a high grade in his class. Students being professional slackers always need an extra nudge from the lecturers. Other than that as I said earlier, AUCA offers an education that can easily compete with some great universities abroad.

Probably find a job that I will enjoy, get my PhD sometime down the road, and travel the world. I love travelling!

I would like to thank my professors and mentors at AUCA. A big hello to Bermet Tursunkulova, Elida Nogoibaeva, Medet Tulegenov, Emil Juraev, who I heard is there as well, Chris Rickleton, and the rest of the faculty, whose classes I had the privilege to attend. Thank you all for being extra tough on us!

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