Gorgi Pavlov is this year’s graduate speaker at the 150th commencement ceremony. After studying at Lehigh since 2010, he will work at Evonik Industries. (Vicky Tahos/B&W Staff)

Q&A: Graduate student speaker Gorgi Pavlov

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Gorgi Pavlov, who has studied at Lehigh since 2010, will serve as the graduate student speaker in the 2018 commencement ceremony. Pavlov spoke with The Brown and White about his experience at the university, where he started as a first-year undergraduate international student from Macedonia.

Q: Why did you choose Lehigh as an undergraduate, and how did your undergraduate experience bring you back as a doctorate student?

Gorgi Pavlov: As an undergrad, I decided (to come to Lehigh) through word of mouth because I’m an international student. Normally, the advice that you’re given from professors is that you should go somewhere else for Ph.D., and the reasoning behind that is that you need to expand your horizons and learn from other people. For me, I didn’t have too much interaction with my Ph.D. adviser as a researcher during my undergrad days. When he said that he had a spot for a graduate student, I was very excited because his area of expertise (in bioseparation) is very niche and that’s something that I really wanted to wet my feet in.

Q: What are some of your biggest accomplishments, academically and / or personally?

GP: In almost every semester that I’ve been at Lehigh, I’ve served as a teaching assistant. Something that is near and dear to my heart is my Teaching Assistant Award that I got during my first year. The opportunity to teach and train the new generation of chemical and bioengineers was a great pleasure and a great honor.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Lehigh?

GP: (Undergraduate and graduate educations) are different experiences and each of them carry different challenges. Undergrad was about how to acclimate myself to the environment, to get to know people and establish a good community of people around me that I would really interact with and have a meaningful relationship with. In graduate school, the emphasis is more on how do you organize your time effectively in a way that (allows) you to be a good researcher and a good scholar, each of which carries a lot of difficulties.

Q: What is graduate student life like, compared to undergrad?

GP: There are different priorities when it comes to graduate student life and undergraduate student life. For graduate student life, it’s important to remember that everyone works at a different schedule. Everyone is at a different phase in their research, and everyone is trying to do a different thing, whereas in undergraduate, the path is more linear. For example, the people that are in your class follow the same progression, take similar classes and are involved in similar things.

Q: How were you chosen to address the class of 2018 as the graduate student speaker?

GP: The way it works for graduate student speaker is that it’s a nomination-based process. However, faculty, staff and students are allowed to nominate. Essentially, there is a committee that reviews all the nominations and reaches a conclusion. It was probably professors that I’ve had or some students that know me quite well (who nominated me). It came as a very big surprise to me.

Q: What are your plans for after you receive your doctoral degree?

GP: I will be working for Evonik Industries in Lafayette, Indiana. There, (it has) one of the biggest biotechnology production facilities, probably in the world. I will be in (its) process technology and engineering division, dealing with fermentation of their products.

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