His name is Ilia Lipartiani. Ilia has returned to William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri after graduating from there in 2005. Here's his story. “I’m from Republic of Georgia, former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and first of all I came to the United States as an exchange student. I came to the state of Montana and I graduated high school in Montana. I went there one year in 2000 and I graduated in 2001,” he says.
“Now I am attending William Woods University. I graduated in 2005. I went there for four years on a soccer scholarship. I took one year off after I graduated in 2005. I worked in St. Louis and then I came back as an assistant soccer coach and I am doing my MBA right now.”
So what is it about the university that made Ilia return to pursue his MBA degree? “The university is pretty small. It is about one thousand people and outside maybe not even that much and they are just really friendly people. You pretty much get to know everyone on campus, all the students everyone and they are very nice people, very nice professors,” he says.
“I like the professors a lot because since I am an international student, when I came I had a little bit of language barrier to understand everything that was being discussed in the class and the classes are about twenty-five to thirty people so teachers would stay afterwards and help me out if I had any problems with anything, especially Ms. Popp she taught me a lot of courses in Business. She was very, very helpful and I like the community and that is the reason I decided to come back.”
While working on his degree, Ilia says he enjoys the fact of being able to mix his studies with being an assistant soccer coach. “When I came in 2001 I played four years I was offered a full scholarship with soccer and I had just an amazing time playing soccer and I love soccer so I kind of wanted to continue my soccer career,” he says.
“Soccer is a big part me and I love the sport definitely plus I love business and I wanted to get involved, get more knowledge in business so I tried to mix those two things together which would be soccer and business and it kind of happened perfectly,” he says. “I became a soccer assistant coach meanwhile I am getting my MBA.”
Ilia says its not so much the university, but for him it is important to pursue a second degree especially in the United States. “Well it was very important actually because back home having gained an American degree, having a degree from the United States means a lot and since I got my bachelor’s degree here I was very happy with that and my parents and all of my family was very happy with that and then I had the chance to continue my education, get my Masters which was huge plus I think for my education career,” he says.
“It will be very valued in the United States and more than in the United States in Georgia having a Masters degree from the United States and the reason I did this is because I hope my possibilities will be more open and that is the reason I decided to go for the MBA.”
The MBA program is for two years and Ilia has completed his first year. He says he will return in August to complete his studies. “This is my first year. I am just finishing my first year right now. It is a two year program we don’t have any breaks other than Christmas break two weeks break for Christmas and the program goes through the summer, however I’ve decided that since I haven’t been home in about three and a half years now I decided to take one and a half month off from my class and go back home and visit my family and then come back in the beginning of August.”
Once Ilia finishes, his first priority is to work in the busines world. He says he will still be involved with soccer in some way because that is one of his passions in life.
“I’ve decided that since I played in college and now I coach it is a big part of me and I love the sport definitely, I think I would more likely be coaching the younger kids just for fun so I am still involved with soccer, but my priority will be the business and because I love business very much I want to have success and that is what I want to do and secondly I would look at the soccer just to have fun and it kind of keeps me in shape and all that stuff and plus coaching the kids and spreading my knowledge to education the kids.