Alumni Spotlight- Eleni Papakosta

Since completing her BA International Studies with Political Science in 2006, Eleni Papakosta has moved to live in Washington DC working in international development at the World Bank, promoting education in Africa.

Why did you study at Birmingham?

When I was looking for colleges my main priorities were to attend a good university with excellent professors and a city that had a lot to offer for college experience; Birmingham combined all these elements. The Department of Political Science and International Studies is one of the best departments for international studies and after visiting the city I knew Birmingham was the best university for me.    

What are your memories of your time here?

I have very fond memories from my time at the University. I made long lasting friendships with classmates I am still in touch with. Debating in classes about political issues is definitely something I will always treasure, as well as spending endless hours in the library studying with my classmates or writing papers. I will also always remember my very first job as a student mentor for the University and the fun I had meeting and helping other students.   

Can you outline your career path following university? How did your time at Birmingham help you?

Following graduation from Birmingham I interned at the US Embassy in Athens, Greece, in the Department of Commerce. After completing my internship I moved to Washington DC to study for a master’s degree before I started working at the World Bank. My time at Birmingham as a student and as a student mentor helped me develop professional and personal skills that have been very useful in my career, including report writing, listening and having constructive discussions, solving problems, communicating effectively and team work.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your current role?

Working in international education programmes is a rewarding experience when seeing improving results. The biggest challenge in my current role is the length of time it takes for those results to be evident. More specifically envisioning how investments in education can help the country in the long run and the amount of time it will take to achieve results.  

And the biggest rewards?

I am very passionate about international development and I am excited to be working at the World Bank, promoting education in Africa. The biggest rewards are working together with different countries and seeing them achieve their education goals, whether that is increasing access to education, improving quality or increasing student performance.

Can you pick a career highlight?

In terms of a career highlight I would pick a report we completed, the overwhelming positive reception it received and the significant policy implications for the country and its education system.

What do you enjoy about being involved with the USA Alumni Society?

I really enjoy meeting other people who have studied at Birmingham and sharing our experiences and memories of the university; the USA Alumni Society offers the perfect opportunity to achieve that. I am always excited to talk to people who graduated in earlier and later years and learn how the university has changed over the years.