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Bosnian Immigrant Lives Roosevelt University Legacy

Ermina Veljacic

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–October 13, 2015.  Choosing the right direction hasn’t always been easy for Roosevelt University Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) major Ermina Veljacic, who frequently has felt confused and disconnected since fleeing war-torn Bosnia as a child with her parents and siblings.

A resident of Chicago’s southeast side since eight years of age, Veljacic first tried her hand at a state university right out of high school, but soon dropped out, feeling it wasn’t the right fit.

“My parents didn’t speak English. I was always trying to do what I could to help them adjust to life in America, and at the same time, I was living my own life mostly questioning why we’d been able to escape the war in my country while others weren’t so lucky,” recalled Veljacic, who will be the first in her family to graduate from college in December.

Enrolling in the Chicago City Colleges while she searched for answers, Veljacic one day met a Roosevelt University admission counselor at a college fair at Truman and came to Roosevelt for a visit.

Impressed by the small class sizes, diverse student body and Roosevelt’s social justice mission, Veljacic, 24, remembers falling in love with Roosevelt almost immediately – and has been on a path to make a difference in her new homeland ever since.
“This is a student who truly represents our University’s 70-year legacy,” said Lee Earle, an IMC professor who believes Veljacic is a natural leader with the tenacity to get a college degree and make a difference in the lives of others.

“She is a perfect example of our IMC students applying what they’ve learned in the classroom in dealing with real-world challenges,” said Earle, who assigned Veljacic and other students in his class to come up with a plan for promoting the University’s recent Shot-at-Life campaign in conjunction with the United Nations that has been successful in raising awareness about the need for childhood immunizations. During the class project, Veljacic and her peers raised approximately $5,000 for the cause.

As she prepares to graduate at semester’s end, Veljacic is strategically making plans for a career in communication and as a community leader. Among recent accomplishments, the Roosevelt student has been an intern and volunteer helping youth to learn how to write and broadcast news at Chicago’s True Star Foundation.

 She’s also embarked on a campaign with her city alderman in her 10th Ward Chicago neighborhood to help youths, mainly from immigrant families, in staying out of trouble and on a path toward college and success. In addition, she is currently organizing a neighborhood clothing drive for Syrian refugees, whom she identifies with and wants to help as they make their way in new surroundings, in much the same way that she once did.
“Roosevelt’s commitment to social justice has allowed me to find different outlets to give back to others my most valued possession, my time,” she wrote recently in a letter to her Roosevelt mentors. “Roosevelt University has changed my life.”

Pamela Thompson-Hill, associate director of the University’s new First Generation Support Services Program, said Veljacic is a prime example of a Roosevelt student who has the drive and desire to succeed in spite of having to overcome significant challenges.

“At Roosevelt, she’s been able to develop a strong sense of community and a desire to give back, and I have no doubt she will achieve her goals,” Thompson-Hill said.

For her part, Veljacic credits the Roosevelt experience for her newfound poise and strength to persevere in spite of barriers.

“Before I was afraid to talk about the things I’ve been through as a refugee,” she said. “Roosevelt has given me confidence to believe in myself and the tools I need to help reach out to others who may be trying to find their way,” she said.

Source: www.roosevelt.edu


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