Maj. Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl doesn’t want cadet learning to stop at her classroom door. Nor does she want her only interaction with students to occur within 50-minute blocks.
Dimitrova-Grajzl, who is assistant professor of economics and business, makes it her goal to get to know cadets both inside and outside the classroom. To that end, she coordinated a Habitat for Humanity building project that brought together female cadets, faculty, and staff, with the goal of building both relationships and houses.
Dimitrova-Grajzl grew up in Bulgaria, while that nation was still part of the Soviet bloc, and earned her bachelor’s degree at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. “Bulgaria was too small for me,” she says of her desire to study abroad. She later earned a doctorate at the University of Maryland at College Park, with her doctoral work focusing on post-socialist economies. She has taught at VMI since the fall of 2011.
Dimitrova-Grajzl believes that VMI’s academic structure fosters a close relationship between cadets and faculty, as cadets are assigned an academic adviser immediately upon arriving at VMI. Because of this, students and faculty start getting to know each other sooner than they might elsewhere.
Dimitrova-Grajzl enjoys teaching the kind of students who come to VMI. “Cadets’ honesty and willingness to accept critique are very refreshing,” she notes.
“Habitat fits very nicely with the mission of VMI, which is to have leaders, but you also want to have people who have compassion and understand other people’s positions – who they are and why they are where they are. It gives empathy, it gives leadership, and it gives some practical skills.”
Maj. Valentina P. Dimitrova-Grajzl
Economics and Business
Ph.D., University of Maryland-College Park