Alumni, Business, Campus wide, College of Business

A CSU Degree leads to individual freedom for Gamkredlize

By Jenna Johnson | December 19, 2019
David Gamkredlize ’08 shows his CSU pride in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
David Gamkredlize ’08 shows his CSU pride in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Photo by Jenna Johnson

At the intersection of Europe and Asia lies the Republic of Georgia. The country, most recently occupied by the Soviet Union, is known for its grand centuries-old cathedrals, ancient cities and vineyards, mighty mountain peaks and hospitable people. Georgians, like David Gamkredlize ’08, are eager to share their homeland’s history, culture and selfless desire for stability. 

Gamkredlize spent his entire life in Georgia before studying abroad as a high school student at Wade Hampton High School in Greer, S.C. It was there he learned about Charleston Southern. The private Christian institution near the coast appealed to him. 

“I spent four years at Charleston Southern University where I gained lots of knowledge, where I gained lots of friends,” Gamkredlize said, adding that due to his long last name, most people called him “David G.” He was very involved in student life as a student-athlete for men’s soccer and drum player in New Vision. 

Gamkredlize commented on the personal growth and individuality he gained at CSU that he had not experienced in his home country — for example, with his coursework. “I had to choose classes myself, but in Georgia everything is planned for you. The student is not allowed to think for himself.” At CSU, he learned from his mistakes and credits the experience with making him a leader. 

Some of those courses, such as business ethics and communication, are what Gamkredlize credits as life changing. “If you want to work for a good company or the government, you need these skills.” He said that something as simple as writing effectively goes a long way in furthering one’s career. That, and a higher ethical standard. “The Christian environment is helpful for everybody there. It’s very important.” 

In one class, Gamkredlize remembers a pop quiz that changed the way he thought about decision making. 

Old Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia.
Old Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. Photo by Jenna Johnson

“We Georgians are like the Italians with our emotions. I didn’t know how to answer the questions, so I didn’t turn it in.” The next day, the professor called Gamkredlize into his office and asked for the test. “I told him that I didn’t know the information, and I wasn’t comfortable writing stupid things.” The professor assured him it wasn’t for a grade, but rather testing his knowledge and decision-making skills at the beginning of the course. Gamkredlize described this story as a learning experience — just one example of his many impactful memories at CSU. 

“I learned how to effectively make decisions. The main reason to go to CSU is to be a decision maker, to make a change for the world,” he said. “I came back to my country to grow it. CSU is the best place for foreign students to gain knowledge and to come back and make huge contributions in their home countries.” 

More than a decade later, professors and staff still remember “David G.” Dr. Arnold Hite, professor of economics in the College of Business, said that Gamkredlize was quiet and polite, but often asked piercing questions about economics. “I knew that, for him, the questions related back to life in Georgia…not just those of an intellectually curious student. I knew that my answers would follow him home.” 

Barbara Mead, associate dean of students and international services director, remembers Gamkredlize’s caring heart, meditative nature and political ambition. 

“He possessed an undeniable desire to do something for his nation. He voiced the need to firstly become educated and, secondly, to gain experience in working with leaders to eventually protect Georgia’s territorial integrity and address its hardships,” Mead said. “I vividly remember David saying to me that his strongest professional desire would be to become president of his country.” 

And it was at CSU that Gamkredlize gained the career mobility he sought. Graduating with a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance, Gamkredlize moved back to Georgia to work in the private and business sectors as well as nonprofit organizations. He most notably worked in Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Counsellor in International Relations, Multilateral & Regional Economic Affairs. In this role, he worked with Europe and the United States as well as United Nations offices in the Asia Pacific region, visiting countries such as Thailand and India. 

Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia
Sameba, also known as Holy Trinity Cathedral, is the largest in the capital of Georgia. Christianity has been the state religion since the 4th century AD; 85% of Georgians are Orthodox Christian. Photo by Jenna Johnson

“CSU gave me skills to be a leader, to represent myself well in any situation,” Gamkredlize said. “My experience at CSU gave me individual freedom. It made it possible for me to move ahead in my country.” 

Currently, Gamkredlize works in the nonprofit sector focused on Georgia’s development and is a leader in a new political party. Having achieved two master’s degrees, he is now a PhD candidate at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and lectures at Caucasus University. 

Gamkredlize charges current students to study hard and respect each other but to also gain experience and do one’s best to make a difference in their area of influence. “We can all make a change. I made a change in my country,” he said. “You have to gain practical experience during your studies…get internships. Combine practical experience with theoretical knowledge.” 

An advocate for studying abroad, Gamkredlize hopes that Georgian students and American students will continue to learn from one another. “It’s important to tell the history of Georgia to others. CSU students should see the past history and take that data to connect the past to the future. They can see what happened 20 or 30 years ago; they can see the history and the culture; they can see the huge social capital that Georgians have. They should come here and integrate their knowledge and skills with Georgia.” 

He added that Georgian students should find a way to attend Charleston Southern. “I was very, very lucky to go to CSU. Charleston Southern University is one of the best schools in the world.”  

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