Dimitrina Koleva - Alumni Profile

Dimitrina KolevaDimitrina Koleva, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, graduated from the National Lyceum for Ancient Languages and Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. She went on to earn a Masters of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Sofia "St. Climent Ohridski" (’91) and an MBA from New Bulgarian University (’00). After immigrating to the U.S., Koleva enrolled at OCC and obtained a Certificate from the Paralegal Program (’03). She then added to her academic credentials by earning a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Marygrove College (’06). Koleva has been employed as a paralegal for the past eleven years.

After a life-changing experience in 2008, Koleva founded the Mithra International Foundation, a charitable organization, with the motto "Empowerment through Education, Art and Culture."

Why did you choose to attend OCC?
When I immigrated to the United States, I could not find a job with my European diplomas, although they were properly evaluated and accepted. Thus, I decided to find a program that would suit my interests and give me prospects in the future. The ABA-approved Paralegal Program at OCC was logical choice. I completed the program summa cum laude and obtained a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.

What surprised you the most about OCC?
At OCC, I was surprised most by the diversity of the students and the variety of the programs the college offers.

How did attending OCC impact your life?
In addition to providing me with the skills for a future occupation, OCC helped me find a job through the internship it offered. Thus, I have been continuously employed as a paralegal for more than 11 years. I believe that being able to be competitive in the job market and sustain a professional work life is the impact that any student attending college expects. OCC definitely provided the opportunity I needed to be exposed to the job market in the U.S. Therefore, I furthered my education with a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management, which I obtained cum laude from Marygrove College in Detroit, MI.

Was there a favorite faculty or staff member who had a strong, positive impact on your life?
I have wonderful memories of several instructors who helped me develop a better understanding of the American culture, especially Doug Kolly, the Director of the Paralegal Program, as well as my Legal Research and Writing instructor. I also have fond memories of Brenda, the manager of the Orchard Ridge Bookstore. She gave me wonderful advice when I was getting married. She said, "When you have an argument at home, hold hands with your spouse. You won’t be able to say a word which you would later regret." It is my belief this could be extrapolated to any situation in life; so let’s reach out and try to create a better world.

What has been your most rewarding professional or personal experience since graduating?
In 2008, I was diagnosed and successfully treated for cancer. Under the kind and professional care of the medical team with whom I entrusted my life, I felt comfortable and safe. The long hours I spent hooked to the machines were time for reflection and meditation. I realized how lucky and privileged I was to have access to medical care. I pondered upon the meaning of life and what I needed to do to feel happy and content. I thought about the millions of people who are deprived of the love and support of family and friends; people who cannot reap the benefits of health care, education, art, culture, and travel. I thought of those who had little, if anything, and could not afford much. I thought about the most fragile members of our society – children. Children marginalized for no fault of their own. Children who do not have hope for the future because they cannot afford to attend schools where quality education is offered - children who could spend their entire lives as social outcasts because of the changing economic and social reality.

The result of this life-changing experience was the creation of Mithra International Foundation, a charitable organization, in 2009. I founded Mithra as a bridge between my beloved native Bulgaria and my present home, Michigan. Mithra strives to bring European and Bulgarian history, culture and traditions to the audiences in Michigan and Ontario, thus promoting Bulgaria - one of the most ancient countries on the European continent. On the other hand, Mithra is helping underprivileged children in Bulgaria with talents in the arts to acquire necessary knowledge and skills in order to develop their gifts. (Please visit www.mithra-international.org). I believe that the Mithra's motto says all that Mithra's supporters, volunteers and I believe in: "Empowerment through Education, Art and Culture."

What would you like for people to know about OCC that they might not necessarily know?
OCC is a place where one can start their own network. There are exchange programs that will definitely broaden students’ horizons and experience, which in turn, can change their world view and help them become Citizens of the Earth.