Nargiz Mammadova: ‘HSE Paved My Road to Harvard‘
Our congratulations to Nargiz Mammadova, international student from Azerbaijan, 2022 Economics: Research Programme alumna, and future Harvard MPA ID student. Nargiz started her masters at HSE amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and was a finalist of the Global Essay Competition in St. Gallen in her second year. She took a full-time job in Baku, applied to the world's top universities, and will be starting her studies at Harvard in August 2023. Nargiz describes her experience and shares an important message for future students
Student Life at My Forever Second Home: ADA University
Back in 2015, I was admitted to the Bachelor of Science in Economics at ADA University, which is one of the top schools in Azerbaijan. I always said that those golden five years (2015–2020) at ADA were a Renaissance period of my life. People I knew there, such as Prof. Elkin Nurmammadov (Vice Rector, Institutional Effectiveness and Development), played an indispensable role in my academic life and made me who I am today.
Per Aspera ad Astra
During the last year of my bachelor's studies at ADA, I was thinking of doing my master degree in Germany, which was my dream country at that time. However, the unexpected COVID crisis changed all my plans and I found myself in one of the most demanding master's programmes at Russia's top school: HSE University. Despite travel restrictions, low internet bandwidth, and the difficulties of studying online, our professors did their best to make sure that our student life was as colourful as Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
The Economics: Research Programme (now the Research track of the Master's Programme 'Economics and Economic Policy) at HSE offers a multidisciplinary approach to economics, combining rigorous theoretical training with empirical analysis and practical research skills. It provides students with a solid foundation in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and quantitative methods, as well as specialised courses in various fields of economics such as labour economics, development economics, financial economics, and industrial organisation.
One of the distinctive features of the programme is its focus on research. Students are exposed to cutting-edge research in economics and are encouraged to actively participate in research projects supervised by renowned faculty members. This hands-on experience allows students to develop their research skills and gain practical knowledge in conducting independent research.
HSE bestowed me the most amazing supervisor—Prof. Veronika Belousova. She made me fall in love with data analysis and research in general.
I will always be grateful to Prof. Anton Suvorov, who devoted his time to have a Zoom call with me before writing a recommendation letter to support my PhD and Master degree application while he also had to take care of his family members who were affected by COVID-19. It was such a touching moment for me. The world needs more Russians like him.
Cemal Eren Arbatli is my another of my favourite professors.
State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan
When I was studying (online) in my last year at HSE, I was hesitating to start a full-time job in the Budget Forecasting and Projects Department of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) which is one of the leading institutions in my country. Not knowing how the people I was going to meet at this department will change my life, I accepted the offer and started a new chapter in my life.
That is where my journey to Harvard started. Ibrahim Ibrahimov, the Head of the Budget Forecasting Division, is more than a team leader, motivator, and the kind of close friend you could ask for in any workplace. His understanding and myriad contributions, along with the support I received from other colleagues, strengthened my resilience and made me set clear goals to be accomplished. The things I gained from SOFAZ went beyond financial independence, as the professional connections I forged and friendships I cultivated there cannot be compared to anything else. I am about to leave my position in the Budget Forecasting and Projects Department in two weeks, and I will definitely miss the lunchbreak discussions with Ilaha Gasimova, the positive vibes from Zohra Abbasova (my Zyoxryeee), the relationship advice from Aysel Sadigli, and the sweet banter with Ibrahim Ibrahimov.
2022–2026 State Scholarship Programme
The State Programme on the Admission of Youth to Prestigious Higher Education Institutions in Foreign Countries for the years 2022–2026 was approved by Decree No. 3163, dated February 28, 2022, of President Ilham Aliyev. The main objective of the programme is to create opportunities for young people to receive education in prestigious higher education institutions abroad, thereby ensuring their future development and equipping them with modern technologies that are responsive to global challenges, practical knowledge, skills, competitiveness, and high-level professional expertise that adapt to the current and future demands of the labour market in Azerbaijan. During the implementation of the programme, the number of Azerbaijani citizens studying at prestigious higher education institutions abroad at the bachelor's and master's levels will not exceed 400 per year, with a total of up to 2,000 individuals. The implementation of the programme is financed using resources allocated for this purpose from the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
I am happy to be among the nominated students whose costs will be fully funded by the government.
My Future MPA at Harvard University
The Master of Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) programme at Harvard Kennedy School is a prestigious and highly regarded graduate programme designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address complex global challenges in the field of international development. The MPA/ID programme combines a rigorous core curriculum in public policy and administration with specialised coursework focused specifically on international development. This interdisciplinary learning environment fosters collaboration and allows for a comprehensive understanding of development issues from multiple perspectives. The curriculum of the MPA/ID programme emphasises the integration of theory and practice.
My message to future students:
Believe in yourself and never let the noise of others extinguish your inner whispers.
Be grateful for all you have and never take them for granted.
Send positive vibes to the universe as the law of attraction always works, no matter whether you believe in it or not.
Define clear goals, allocate your energy and financial resources in a way to ensure that you unlock challenges.
Never forget that your 20s will never come back, so leave some time to enjoy life.