Youth Voices


My name is Kristina Nedelkova, I am 23 years old and currently live in New York City, where I am pursuing a Masters in International Finance and Economic Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Prior to Columbia, I attended the George Washington University in Washington D.C., from which I hold degrees in International Development and Economics. I was born in Tempe, Arizona, which is where I grew up and still to this day consider home. I was fortunate enough, however, to spend every summer of my childhood in Macedonia, an indisputable second home.

Success Story

One of the most formative professional experiences that has played a significant role in shaping my current academic and further career aspirations is my work at the World Bank Group. My first role consisted of data collection for an agribusiness indicator focused on assessing laws and regulations in agriculture, identifying possible legal reforms countries can implement to remove obstacles and help farmers grow their businesses. I then transitioned to my current role at the International Finance Corporation, where I work in the Sector Economics and Development Impact department, analyzing and benchmarking the overall development impact of various investments in the agribusiness, manufacturing, microfinance, and other financial services industries. After completing my degree, I hope to continue working in the field of development, with a focus on how to leverage the private sector, particularly private investment, for development impact. Whether it is in a more analytical, data-driven capacity or one more rooted in policy and regulatory reform, I hope to pursue a career in which I can contribute to sustainable development initiatives in economies that need it most.

As part of my studies at the George Washington University, I participated in the Global Bachelor’s Program, taking my development studies abroad to Shanghai, China, and Santiago, Chile for a semester each. This comparative approach to understanding global development issues first-hand made me look beyond the textbook, understanding how policy translates to practice, and how the effects are manifested on the local level. These formal experiences coupled with my informal time in Macedonia have influenced my desire to dedicate my work to development impact and further exploring how sustainable investment can be used as a beneficial tool for driving economic growth and overall prosperity.

Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland

These yearly visits to Macedonia throughout my childhood – and especially those of recent years – have made me most aware and cognizant of not just the economic and political development constraints the country faces, but more importantly, I believe my studies and professional experience have equipped me with the proper technical skill-set to address them. Similar to my time in China and Chile, being able to see first-hand the policy, investment, and entrepreneurial challenges Macedonia faces gives me a unique perspective I will hopefully be able to leverage in my future professional capacities in a way that results in lasting, sustainable change.

Even more importantly, I hope my successes and achievements thus far can serve as an example for other young Macedonians, not just domestically, but around the world as well. I am aware and eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to pursue the academic and professional path of my choosing, but I am also aware of the risks and sacrifices that were made on my behalf in order for me be able to pursue these passions. I only hope that after my studies, with the skills and intellectual capabilities I have learned, I will be able to pay it forward so others can do the same.