Men’s Soccer Alum Maks Khurgin ’10 Honored To Defend Country
Maks Khurgin wants to defend the United States. It is part of his essence, his fiber, his being. There are a number of citizens who devote themselves to protecting what America stands for, but not too many of them were born in the Soviet Union and went on to become standout soccer players for Carnegie Mellon University.
Khurgin, his brother Daniel and parents Elina and Igor came to the United States when the future Tartan was 3-years-old, emigrating from Latvia with just eight suitcases between the four of them. After arriving in San Francisco, the Khurgins seized the opportunity and built a life for themselves.
"The United States has given my family so many opportunities and none of that was possible in the Soviet Union," Khurgin said. "Hearing the stories of what my family went through, it's like night and day. I think that's something worth defending. I want to make sure this country can continue to provide those opportunities for families like mine."
Igor and Elina Khurgin worked hard when they came to the United States and both became successful in their respective lines of work. Igor, who went to English classes at community colleges after he arrived to learn the language, is now a computer engineer. Elina Khurgin works in information technology for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
"The bar was always set high for me and my brother. My parents came here and worked hard," Khurgin said. "All four of my grandparents received college educations in the Soviet Union, which is pretty amazing. They set a bar I could never surpass, but I will always strive to."
When he was a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon, Khurgin applied for Officer Candidate School through the United States Marine Corps. After he received a rejection for medical reasons, he decided that he would reapply two years after graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in business administration from the Tepper School. Despite the fact that he had developed into a successful options trader for Belvedere Trading in Chicago, the 2010 graduate stuck to his plan. His second application to Officer Candidate School was successful and following completion of the program, Khurgin left his job and accepted his commission to the Marines on August 10.
Khurgin has made a four-year commitment to the Marines, and has a reservist contract, meaning that he will be assigned to a reserve unit when his officer training is complete. During that time, he can take a civilian job but may have to leave it if he is called into service.
"I wanted to work for a proprietary trading company and it was a fast-paced environment. I got the exact civilian job that I wanted," Khurgin said. "The interesting thing is that when you start describing a fast-paced, chaotic environment, you can usually use those exact adjectives to describe a military environment. There were a lot of things I took away from Belvedere that have helped me in my short military career."
A standout four-year goalkeeper for the Carnegie Mellon men's soccer program, Khurgin was a major reason the Tartans reached the third round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament – the best finish in program history. Khurgin learned a lot about leadership during his time with the Tartans and believes that experience has helped prepare him for what lies ahead.
"Goalkeeper is naturally a leadership position on the field. You're trying to deal with different personalities and that skill set has been really helpful to me in the military so far," Khurgin said. "I'm grateful for having such a great soccer experience at Carnegie Mellon."
That experience is one of the reasons Khurgin has already made the decision to give back to the program he holds so close to his heart. Both Khurgin and his parents have been consistent and generous supporters of the men's soccer program.
"Carnegie Mellon is a fantastic institution and when you start out as a freshman, you may not realize the advantage you have over a lot of other schools," Khurgin said. "Being able to go to school with such high-caliber people and knowing those type of people will continue to come out of the school, is something I want to be a part of and continue supporting."
Khurgin graduated alongside nine other Carnegie Mellon soccer players in 2010 and has been able to maintain relationships with all of his former teammates. He is committed to remaining an active part of the program moving forward.
"I look at the alumni that have come back and you can see the history of a great program," Khurgin said. "I want to come back regularly and be a part of it."