Inside USD

From Valedictorian to Systems Engineer

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kelchev-photoLast year at this time, Boyan Kelchev ’09 was preparing to walk across the Jenny Craig Pavilion stage to deliver his commencement speech as USD’s valedictorian. There were hundreds of pairs of eyes on him at the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony as Kelchev bestowed advice and well-wishes as one of the university’s top students.

One year later, with the hard work and studying behind him, the scene is slightly, well, different. The real world that many college students fear has hit home. But for Kelchev, it’s a world that is certainly no less challenging or exciting.

Using his computer science degree, Kelchev currently works for Forward Slope Inc. (FSI), a technology company that provides technical and financial consulting services to commercial and U.S. Department of Defense clients. “I work as a systems engineer, focusing mostly on software, and I am able to use much of what I learned in the mathematics and computer science departments,” Kelchev said.

At FSI, Kelchev is right at home among fellow USD alumni. Carlos Persichetti ’96 is co-founder and president of FSI and Kevin Noonan ’01 serves as executive vice president. Both received their MBA from USD’s School of Business Administration.

Born and raised in Bulgaria, Kelchev arrived in San Diego in August 2005 to attend USD. He became the first recipient of the Vessela Zaykova-Smolin Memorial Scholarship, created by Gerard Smolin to honor his late wife, a native of Bulgaria. Her dream was to attend school in the United States, a dream she accomplished by attending USD where she met Smolin.

Though he has not had a chance to visit his home country this past year, Kelchev is hopeful that his current job will open the doors for travel. Last May, FSI was awarded a two-year contract that would involve some work to be done in Bulgaria. “I had always dreamed of finding a job that would somehow allow me to contribute something to my home country,” Kelchev said. “This project will provide that opportunity for me.”

It is that kind of appreciation and optimism that has driven Kelchev’s young career. With the economy still tender and recovering, he understands the fear many graduates will have as they embark on their career search. He advises graduates not to give up hope.

“Somebody once told me that job searching is much like finding a soul mate,” Kelchev said. “You want to find something you love and feel comfortable spending large amounts of time with; and, as if that weren’t enough, the other side should feel the same about you as well.”

From the looks of it, Kelchev has found just that.

— Kelly Machleit

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