Two passions, sports and the pursuit of an MBA, collided for Uros Kepic at Emory. He had never heard of the University before being granted a scholarship by the United States Information Agency's International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). "Once I got the scholarship, it was IREX who sent me to Emory," Kepic explained. "It wasn't up to me where I would go. I didn't even know where it was at first." Once the Slovenia native found Atlanta to be Emory's hometown, he knew he was home free. "The Olympics," he said. "That fact I liked."
In fact, the Olympics provided all sorts of experiences for Kepic, who had been an avid kayaker and canoer as well as a professional skier before coming to the United States in 1995. He worked with the Olympic Committee of Slovenia before and during the Olympics in an exhibit hall in downtown Atlanta. Most significantly, he served as a translator for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) for the Yugoslavian and Croatian basketball teams. "I had to be there just in case, let's say, a Croatian or Yugoslavian asked a question to one of the U.S. team members," said Kepic, who speaks six languages.
A personal highlight of the Olympics was when a neighbor from his suburban hometown just south of Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, won a silver medal in whitewater kayaking. "To win a silver medal from a place nobody really knows," Kepic said, "that was really the best part of it. Otherwise, it was a fast-moving 14 days."
Kepic will return to Slovenia shortly after his graduation from the Goizueta School. The provisions of his scholarship dictate that he returns home from the United States and stays at least two years. He's debating employment offers, but is leaning toward Tetra Pak, a Swedish, family-owned business that makes juice boxes and one with which he had worked briefly last year in the U.S.
IREX ensures that its graduates undergo a "re-integration" process before returning home. "We had a great conference in Monterrey (Calif.)," he said. The participants listened to a lecture from a consultant on the difficulties they might face. "I thought, 'man, he's talking to me,'" said Kepic. "Things back home, not that they are that different, but they are still different. I feel I've gotten accustomed to things here-like going to [the] grocery shop at midnight."
Kepic hopes that his interest in international business helps tame the wanderlust he sometimes feels. "[Travel] is just so much more dynamic, diverse," he said. "I traveled a lot, I worked in Sweden for a semester, I studied in Germany. I've traveled substantially and if I'm home for too long, I get nervous."
and Stacey Jones
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