“This period of my life was probably one of my most defining life experiences thus far.”

Shavarsh Gevorgyan is our previous scholarship holder from Armenia. He studied a master’s programme in Sustainable Development at Uppsala University 2017 – 2019. This is his story:
Portrait photo of a young man, with the Stockholm old town in the background.

What are you currently doing?

Currently, I’m a Sustainability Policy Fellow in a development sector where we aim to transform urban living communities through sustainable design solutions to improve the quality of life. More specifically, I’m working on creating an online sustainable innovation hub which will be a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and communities to connect. At the same time, I’m engaged in non-profits and development projects in Eastern Partnership countries and the Baltic Sea Region, specifically related to environmental sustainability and human rights.

What were you doing when you applied for the scholarship?

When I applied for the SI Visby Programme scholarship, I had just finished my European Voluntary Service in Portugal and was working in the youth field, while studying economics and wondering how the economics education that I was to receive could feed into sustainable development and address global challenges.

Why did you want to pursue a master’s degree in Sweden?

I decided to continue my studies in sustainable development because throughout my undergraduate studies, I felt like economics didn’t equip me well enough to deal with the most pressing problems in my country. Issues regarding poverty, corruption and growing inequality were almost absent in my courses. I needed an alternative perspective away from the linear idea of how things worked. I chose Sweden because I’ve visited Sweden a few times and was always fascinated by Swedish society and culture. I also wanted to study in a diverse, multicultural and open-minded environment.

What has the SI scholarship brought for you?

It completely changed my life – I became more skilled, confident and academically curious. I learned to be more organised and mindful. I have made many meaningful connections and expanded my professional network. Now, I am a well-rounded and open-minded person who looks at the world through a wide lens which continues to develop. This period of my life was probably one of my most defining life experiences thus far.

In your opinion, what are the most valuable opportunities the scholarship provided for SI scholarship holders?

The scholarship has allowed me to pursue a world class education from the highly reputable Uppsala University, and devote myself to my studies without having to worry about the logistics. It also provided me with a uniquely special network of diverse and self-driven future global leaders.

Why should one apply for an SI scholarship?

The SI Scholarship is a life changing educational opportunity that will definitely enrich your professional development and amplify your future possibilities to impact society. Besides getting valuable professional skills and knowledge and living in one of the most advanced societies, you will also grow personally as you are constantly encouraged to think critically and question different perspectives.

How do you see yourself contributing to sustainable development today?

Considering that my major was sustainable development, I have an extra responsibility in ensuring that whatever I do does in fact contribute to sustainable development. On a personal level, it starts right in my household where I recycle trash and upcycle old things; I travel responsibly; I don’t eat meat anymore and I only purchase fair trade or locally made products. On the professional side, I’m working on an online project – a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders to connect and discuss sustainable start-ups, their added value, and the phases of formation and growth.

Is there something practical you approach differently now because of what you learned during your time in Sweden?

On the practical side, I’m definitely using “lagom” in almost every aspect of my life which increases my productivity and makes me invest more in experiences and not material things. The biggest change in approach for me was realising that the world is extremely complex and there are no quick fixes. Coming from a post-Soviet country where education is often black and white, right or wrong, I was astonished to learn that so many of the world issues actually require interdisciplinary solutions that should constantly be revised, especially in regard to sustainable development.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I always say that my goal is to change the world, however at this point in time I’m working on creating an online sustainable innovation hub which will be a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and communities to connect. My goal is to start a conversation in the tech industry around sustainability, e-waste and push forward with consumer action. In the future, I see myself as a Sustainability Coach or Consultant for companies who want to be on the right side of history. As for the long-term future, I might do a Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability with the focus on Sustainable enterprise and development.

Anything else you want to say to prospective scholarship holders?

Be organised, use all the official resources on higher education in Sweden and stay motivated.

I also want to share the quote of Nelson Mandela, who says “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Our education is extremely important, not just for us, but in a far broader and wider reaching way, more than we can imagine. Every SI scholar and alumni can rise above the circumstances and change their surroundings, cities, regions, and countries for the better.

Find out more about the SI scholarships.