Born in Bulgaria and raised in Western Siberia, economics professor Marieta Velikova studied at Mississippi State University.
She currently writes articles for economic journals and is a board member of the Sister Cities of Nashville.
“I was born in Bulgaria, but I only lived there for one year. I lived most of my life in Russia,” Velikova said.
Velikova first came to the United States when she was 14 for an exchange program.
“It was Freedom Support Act, which was the first program that initiated exchange between United States and Russia, so it was 1994. I was 14 years old, and I stayed for an entire academic year in Idaho,” Velikova said.
Velikova had a hard first month adjusting to the American culture when she got here, along with learning English.
“It was really hard when I was 14. Before that I’ve never been anywhere but Russia, so everything was so different, so out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t speak the language, I couldn’t understand the language, nobody could understand me,” Velikova said. “The first month was just adapting and being so exposed to differences, and I think what I learned was to appreciate and accept it.”
It was also hard having her friends and family so far away.
After graduating from the university in Moscow, Velikova returned to America at the age of 22 to study at Mississippi State University for graduate school. She decided to attend Mississippi State thanks to a friend.
“I was working the summer before my senior year. I was working as an interpreter, and I worked with this group that was mainly from the Southeast region in America. The dean of the business school was working on some education project in Russia like economic curriculum, and we became really good friends,” Velikova said. “He said I have to come to Mississippi State, so it was more through this friendship and meeting this person, I decided to come to Mississippi State.”
Velikova studied economics in undergraduate school and thought it made sense to study it in graduate school, too.
“I love economics, since I was little. I love numbers, and I was always very curious about anything international. I loved to learn about other countries, read about other cultures, but I always liked foreign affairs,” Velikova said.
With her love for economics, Velikova wrote articles for multiple economic journals such as Energy Journal, Energy Economics, Journal of Applied Business Research and many more.
“One was related to my dissertation which was about deposit insurance. My inspiration for that topic was Russia was just going through the process of choosing and adopting the deposit insurance system for our banking sector, so it was kind of curious to me,” Velikova said. “What is deposit insurance and what difference does it make? Why would you choose one feature over another? That’s kind of how I selected that topic – simply curiosity.”
Along with being a published author, Velikova also is a board member of the Sister Cities of Nashville.
“It’s a non-profit organization that works with the mayor’s office. Basically, we promote and build relationships between Nashville and cities around the world,” Velikova said.
Nashville and its sister city have official agreements signed by both mayors. They promote cultural and economic exchange. Nashville sends artists to the cities to perform and vice versa. The cities can offer legal service, trade or investment opportunities to one another.
“I have gone to Belfast, Mendoza and haven’t been on official Kamakura visit, but I did take students in May to Japan. One of the days we went to Kamakura, and they hosted us,” Velikova said.
This article was written by Katelyn Foehner.