Maja Petrusevska (IRES '94) studied at CEU when it was still in Prague. On joining, she was already renowned in her native Macedonia as part of a group of young progressive journalists who challenged the norms of reporting. In the last 16 years Maja has been working in London with the BBC, heading several national services and serving a producer and senior trainer. She is currently BBC’s Assistant Partnership Editor.
You’re a veteran journalist, in your native Macedonia and the BBC. What do you find the most interesting or impactful aspect of the work you do?
Working in broadcasting industry means having a busy but never a boring life. Doesn’t matter how organized one is there is always something to surprise you. Every day is different. Sometimes it is breaking news, sometimes is the last minute interview. It is all part of the job description. However, I do meet a lot of people, travel, learn about different cultures. I am glad my curiosity never left me. I still want to learn, try different things, and see places I haven’t seen before. I am also very passionate about developing other people and for couple of years I was working as Trainer in Journalism and Production in BBC. I have probably trained 300+ BBC World Service journalists based in London and around the world. And that makes me really happy and accomplished.
Do you feel your CEU education helped prepare you for or influenced the work you do in some way?
I am big supporter of CEU, mainly because of my first-hand experience. The year I spent in Prague studying for MA in International Relations was the best that could have happened to me.
I was exposed to a new world of knowledge, we had great dedicated professors and I remember that both students and our lecturers worked so hard as it was up to us if MA licenses for the courses would be granted that year. The education I got, helped me open my horizons to the world I was starting to know, polish my values and meet some amazing people and friends. I am sure having CEU on my CV helped me getting my job with BBC World Service in London.
What do you feel was the fundamental value of your CEU experience? What stood out?
Being in a class with 45 other people coming from 27 different nationalities was striking and beautiful experience. Coming from a very small, but culturally diverse country myself, Macedonia, suddenly I felt like a fish swimming in the ocean rather than small aquarium. I really loved learning about other people’s countries, language, cultures; sharing same, similar or completely different experiences. Being tolerant, companionate, aware of differences, able to listen, constantly learning is something that I took with me.
You studied at CEU in its very early days. Do you feel the university’s mission is still as important or relevant today as it was then?
When I studied at CEU in Prague 1993/94 the world was fragile, especially the part of the world I was coming from. I was born in the country called Yugoslavia and suddenly we were witnessing everything that was dear to us falling apart. Our friends lost their homes, became refugees, some died. The war was taking its toll. CEU was not only safe haven at that time, giving us the opportunity to go out of the box and follow our dreams, but also providing the education that for most of us would have never been available. We were opening new doors, new possibilities. Most of the people from my generation are nowadays having fulfilled lives, accomplishing their career goals. The best was that there was no attachment. After we finished our studies we didn’t owe anything to anyone. We were free to do what we want. And that was extraordinary – still is!
What role has CEU’s alumni network played in your life?
I am still in touch with colleagues from my days in Prague. It is like a family. Sometimes you don’t see each other for long periods of time, but when you meet is like you have only say goodbye yesterday. This year while in Croatia I caught up with 2 great friends from CEU Prague. Only this time we make our CEU family even bigger by introducing to each other our spouses, kids…Professionally it is great opportunity to build up on existing professional network. It is much easier if someone that you have studied together is already there and happy to help.
What, if anything, do you miss from your student days?
I miss our comradeship. We used to be very tight group of friends and colleagues, all good students but also liked to party, go to concerts and had our pint of beer. And I will always miss beautiful, golden Prague.