From Uzbekistan to Green Bay: Graduate student sees future in cotton

Rustam Ahmedov is unlike any other student on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus in that he traveled more than 6,475 miles to get here. He is believed to be the first international student from Uzbekistan to attend UW-Green Bay.

Ahmedov made the journey from his home in Chirchik, Uzbekistan to Green Bay as a result of being awarded the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship. He was chosen as one of the possible “emerging leaders” from 12 countries of the former Soviet Union. The highly competitive Muskie program aims to promote mutual understanding, build democracy and foster transition to market economies in Eurasia through intensive academic study and professional training. The Muskie Fellowship is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.

Ahmedov, a 28-year-old master’s of management candidate, is a non-traditional student in every sense of the word. He speaks six languages — Tajik, Uzbek, English, Russian, Turkish and Japanese. He is married and is the father of two young daughters, 5-year-old Diyora and seven-month-old Parvina. Ahmedov’s wife, Dilobar, is a small business owner in Chirchik. With the help of their family, she owns a dress salon where she designs, produces, creates and sells wedding dresses and ball gowns.

“I give her marketing ideas on price controlling, discounts and some other ideas to get more customers and that is pretty much my contribution to her business, “ said Ahmedov. “I really want her to go as far as possible with what she is doing and I support her.”

Ahmedov said it was difficult to leave his family in Uzbekistan, but completion of some paperwork should bring them to Green Bay for a visit, shortly, as he waits to welcome them to his off-campus apartment.

Ahmedov was the first of his family and friends to travel to the U.S. when he arrived at UW-Superior in 2003 as part of an undergraduate exchange program. He was excited to see how higher education differed here than from his university, Tashkent State University of Economics.

“I wish I had finished my degree here in the U.S. because I feel that I would have received a better quality of education,” Ahmedov said.

Ahmedov returned to Uzbekistan and earned his undergraduate degree in International Economic Relations at Tashkent State, and then put his knowledge of international economic relations to good use. He worked as a sales representative and sales manager for Daeshin Megatex LLC, a South Korean textile company in his hometown.

“We used to export our products to the U.S. in 2007-08, but for some economic and political reasons, we had to stop exporting to the U.S,” he said. “We exported many goods to the Russian Federation, Germany and the Netherlands. These days most of the goods we export are to Russia.”

Ahmedov is looking forward to a productive year at UW-Green Bay. He is beginning work toward his master’s degree in Management and is currently enrolled in nine credits of graduate coursework. He also plans on working a summer internship in Green Bay in the economics field.

When Ahmedov returns to his home country after completing his fellowship and master’s degree, he has big dreams for his family’s future — “owning and operating a cotton and textile manufacturing company.”

He will use his acquired knowledge and experience of business management and economics to compete in Uzbekistan’s most well-known industry. Together with his wife’s growing wedding dress business, the couple has dreams of becoming name-brand players in their country’s textile industry.

“Most people know my wife as an expensive dressmaker in the city. She knows what she does for sure. Some say, I would love her to hit the big wedding dress market in Uzbekistan as it is a highly competitive and profitable business,” said Ahmedov.
Story by Daniele Frechette, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication