Diko Mihov grew up in Bulgaria, a math whiz.

He zoomed through more than 50 math competitions, most of them national, and at 18, he won the International Math Olympiad, making him one of the top math students in the world.

“Math teaches you to think critically, solve problems, and think creatively,” says Mihov, who took his math skills to Wall Street, where he is now managing director at D.E. Shaw & Co., an alternative asset manager. Recently, he established at MIT a graduate fellowship in mathematics or a math-related field for another Bulgarian student.

“Lots of people supported my interest in math when I was growing up. Right now, I’m doing just the same, except I’m on the giving, rather than on the receiving end of that support and encouragement. It makes me feel complete, like it’s come full circle, and it is a very satisfying feeling.”

Mihov established at MIT the American Foundation for Bulgaria Fund, after creating the foundation in 2003 to support and promote excellence in education. “I hope this gift will give a talented Bulgarian student a chance to excel in their field, develop a successful career, and achieve their goals.”

Mihov came to the U.S. to study in 1989, just before the Berlin Wall fell. He had attended Sofia University in Bulgaria, transferred to Park University in Missouri and graduated with a math degree in 1990. After a year at Berkeley, he headed east to MIT and earned a Ph.D. in math in 1996.

As a student, Mihov received a fellowship himself, which inspired him to give to others, he says. “This gift will give someone an opportunity to go to one of the top schools in the world, and once they finish their MIT studies, the sky’s the limit.”