Orxan Abbasov

Fulbright Fellow lands senior advisor position in Azerbaijan's education ministry

By Kevin Haynes 

WMU recruiter at a college fair.

WMU alumni Orxan Abbasov representing WMU at a recruiting fair in Azerbaijan.

Orxan Abbasov, a Fulbright Fellow who attended Western Michigan University from 2012 to 2014, was recently named senior advisor in the Ministry of Education in his home country—the Republic of Azerbaijan. He is currently working on implementation of a national strategy to develop education in rural, remote areas of Azerbaijan.

At WMU, Abbasov earned a master’s degree in international development administration. He considers the two years he spent studying in Kalamazoo priceless and critical to his professional development. "A graduate degree in international development creates opportunities to cooperate, discuss, share knowledge, and to work together with students from all over the world with different professional, cultural, social and economic backgrounds,” said Abbasov, whose program included a concentration in public policy.  “I am now putting those skills to use by recruiting new educational managers and educational professionals in Azerbaijan.”

An important strength of the MIDA program according to Abbasov is that the curriculum reflects the diverse background of students enrolled in the program. He said WMU’s Political Science Department attracts a student body that represents true global diversity, which is evident when looking at the the wide range of case studies and projects conceived by department students that are taking place in locations all over the world.

“The program’s faculty has a great deal of experience in the field of development,” Abbasov said. “They prepared me well for my current position, with course work in data analysis, project management, and other necessary skills to be successful.”

Three WMU graduates after commencemt

Abbasov and friends
after commencement in
spring 2014.


With more than eight years of experience in the field of development, Abbasov has come to the understanding that education is the key element necessary for building a sustainable society. Since his WMU graduation he has been active in promoting his alma mater at international education fairs in Azerbaijan.

Abbasov with the torch at the BAKU 2015 European Games.

“It is a great pleasure, as well as an honor, to promote WMU’s educational opportunities in Azerbaijan. I plan to expand my WMU outreach regionally to prospective students in Turkey, Georgia, Russia and central Asian countries.”

The Fulbright program has a positive reputation in Azerbaijan, and Abbasov said employers are eager to hire Fulbright alumni. As a result of his WMU outreach at international education fairs, he helped Kanan Israil Gasimov, an acquaintance from Azerbaijan, to secure a Fulbright Fellowship to study in WMU's MIDA program.


Directly after graduating from WMU Abbasov took a position at Oxfam in Azerbaijan, where he was responsible for the oversight and support of food security, nutrition project development and implementation.  He also worked as a training specialist for the 2015 European Games, coordinating training schedules for more than 40,000 athletes. 

“I am very grateful for the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, as well as WMU," Abbasov said, "for creating this invaluable opportunity for me and for other students from all over the world.”