Karina Iskandarova: Aspiring global policy maker broadens horizons at UMaine

When Greek television stations and newspapers seek input about international policy matters and life in the U.S. as a student abroad, they often contact Karina Iskandarova. 

As the graduate student from Thessaloniki, Greece shares her knowledge and experiences with others through news reports and on Youtube, she also broadens her own horizons through the instruction and opportunities offered at the University of Maine. 

Studying in the U.S. was a dream for Iskandarova, and she realized it when she earned a full scholarship from UMaine. During her time at the university, the master’s student of global policy became secretary for the Graduate Student Government, a graduate community coordinator and an instructor for an undergraduate public communication course. 

“I have grown a lot, and although the beginning was tough, I feel proud that I am here and still working hard to achieve my dreams,” Iskandarova says. ”Because at the end of the day, it is not only the diploma you gain, but also the new friendships, connections and life experiences.”

Prior to enrolling at UMaine, Iskandarova graduated from the American College of Thessaloniki in her hometown with a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations. After she earns her master’s degree, she plans to intern with Greece’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City. 

We asked Iskandarova to tell us more about her UMaine experience:  

Why did you choose to come to UMaine?
It was 2019 when I graduated as a political scientist from the American College of Thessaloniki, Greece. That year I was applying in different universities across the globe. I was accepted in universities like Essex (U.K.), Curtin (Australia), and more, but UMaine made a difference for three reasons. First, Maine was a place I knew nothing about besides Stephen Kings’ incredible movies. Second, the program director offered me a full scholarship. Third, the U.S. was a dream place for me to study. I always dreamed about getting on an airplane and visiting the U.S. Finally, I did it. 

How would you describe the academic atmosphere at UMaine?
I would describe the atmosphere in three words: Welcoming, accepting and liberal. Your opinion matters and you are being heard. Our professors are all a great resource in terms of knowledge and experience. I am in daily contact with many people from various departments and job positions and I can honestly say that each one of them — from hall custodians to the president — are super polite and helpful.

Describe any research, internships or scholarly pursuits in which you have participated. How have they prepared you for future opportunities in your chosen field?
All the academic papers, presentations and general research required for my degree has proved to be essential and enriching. Every semester I learn more and more about what I am really studying. Especially, being a non-native speaker, the research done through our coursework has been tremendously useful. 

Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who made your time at UMaine better, and if so, how?
All of my professors at UMaine have been important to me because they give their love in what they are doing. Teaching demands a certain level of charisma and passion. All  professors from the School of International Policy and Affairs have both and most SPIA students can verify that. 

Describe UMaine in one word. 

The people are all so polite and warm to us — the international students. I love this place. It has been one of the best experiences with its challenges and all.

What difference has UMaine made in your life?
UMaine has opened more doors-expanding my network, enriched my knowledge, made me a stronger woman. 

Contact: Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721; marcus.wolf@maine.edu