Prepared by Mithat Gashi/
The Pan Albanian-American Federation, Vatra, awarded scholarship to six deserving Albanian-American students for academic year 2015-2016. Each of the recipients was given a scholarship of $1,100 this year. This year’s scholarship winners excel in academic accomplishments, valuable extracurricular activities and, more importantly, future potential.
The purpose of Vatra’s educational foundation is to provide financial aid in the form of scholarships to deserving students of Albanian lineage. Vatra has awarded scholarships for over fifty years to Albanian American college students.
We call upon members of the Albanian American Community and previous recipients of the Vatra Scholarship to support Vatra’s Educational Foundation. Make a donation today to:
Vatra’s Educational Foundation
2437 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458.
Vatra would like to congratulate this year’s recipients for their academic accomplishments and for service to their community.
This year’s scholarship recipients are:
Attending: University of Cambridge (UK)
Field of Interest: History
Anticipated Graduation: July 2018
Merve Fejzula, an Albanian American who comes from the birthplace of Mother Teresa (Shkup, Macedonia), is pursuing her graduate studies the University of Cambridge (UK). In her application for the Vatra scholarship, Merve wrote that her “thesis will explore an intellectual history of black and Third World intellectuals in and out of Paris from 1945-1975.” She completed her MPhil in Historical Studies in 2015, and her undergraduate work at Rutgers University’s Newark campus, where she graduated in 2011 as a double major in English and history, with a minor in philosophy. Before embarking upon postgraduate study at Cambridge, she served as program coordinator of the Diversity Research Center, whose aim was to expand the public understanding of diversity in higher education. As an immigrant to the US with her mother and father, Merve has had a longstanding interest in expanding access to education, particularly for immigrant communities and Albanians. To that end, she has volunteered in her local Albanian community to provide free tutoring and SAT classes. In her pursuit of a career as an academic and historian, she hopes to continue providing academic support to Albanians and help them towards success.
In her own words: “Both my parents did their best to contribute to my education, but in order to fund my studies, I also worked at my local library and as a research assistant. Despite these limits on my time, I was compelled to contribute to the campus, which I did through the editorship of the campus newspaper, The Observer. As a result, I was chosen twice for the Blumenthal Scholarship, the highest award at Rutgers-Newark for leadership and service to the university. Alongside this, I continued my involvement with the local Albanian community, many of whom struggle with entering college.”
Attending: John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Field of Interest: Public Administration
Anticipated Graduation: May 2016
In his own words: “I express my highest considerations to the Vatra Organization and its mission in bringing the Albanian Community together, representing them properly, and protecting their rights. Based on my academic and work experiences, I see myself as an important addition to the Vatra Organization. As a future legal counsel, I am ready to put all my efforts for the best of the Albanian community. I find it as an obligation to assist this community for an equal treatment, despite their immigration status and to advocate for their rights. I want to see the Albanian community united in promoting its best values.”
Attending: James Madison University
Field of Interest: Biology
Anticipated Graduation: May 2017
“I was born in South Africa in 1995 to an Albanian mother and Irish father. After immigrating to the United States, we eventually established ourselves in Virginia. I currently attend James Madison University, where I am studying biology. My ultimate goal in whatever career I choose is to help others, following Blessed Mother Teresa’s example. As of right now, I hope to accomplish this goal by becoming a high school or university teacher. As I’ve learned through my mother, the Albanian-American community is flourishing and I am truly blessed to be a part of it. I have grown up in a household that cherishes Albanian culture and not only have I learned to appreciate it, but I also embrace it. I look forward to engaging with other Albanian-Americans like myself in order to get involved with Albanian organizations, like VATRA, that proudly express and advocate our Albanian heritage and culture here in the United States.
Sabrina is the daughter of Merita Bajraktari McCormack, a member of Vatra’s Board of Directors and President of Vatra’s Washington DC Chapter. Merita is also a poet and has authored several books, among others, “Dritaret e Shpirtit” (2006), “Lulet e Jargavanit” (2005), “Vargje pertej Adriatikut” (2005), “Me Zërin e Zemrës” (2003), etc.
Attending: Mt. St. Mary College
Field of Interest: Psychology
Anticipated Graduation: May 2019
“I am a freshman at Mount Saint Mary College in upstate New York. I have always been interested in the study of psychology and my passion has always been to help others overcome their emotional distress.
I have participated in and been a volunteer at the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness every October for the past 5 years at Woodbury Commons. I have met many cancer survivors and have discussed with them the trials and tribulations that one goes through when dealing with cancer. It is not only the person, but the whole family that is affected by this disease.
I have also participated in the Walk for Autism. I understand the challenges of families that have a person in their life diagnosed with Autism or being on the spectrum. I believe that I can help those with mental health issues. It was my privilege to be a part of these campaigns and I hope to continue as a professional one day, after I have received my degree in psychology. I also hope that one day I can be of service to the Albanian Community. I would like to believe that I can make a difference in this world and that I can be a positive role model to younger Albanian girls.”
Arta is the daughter of Dr. Nexhat Kaliçi, e long time Board Member of Vatra and President of Vatra Foundation Inc.
Attending: Loyola University-Maryland
Field of Interest: Finance/Accounting
Anticipated Graduation: May 2019
Angelena is attending Loyola University Maryland. She plans complete a bachelor’s degree and pursue a master’s degree in the field of business. Angelena’s long-term goals are to work with one of the Big Four audit firms of the world, preferably in New York City.
In her own words: “Growing up with my grandparents literally living across the street, my Albanian heritage has always been an important part of my life. These are the people who have supported me through thick and thin, and I am so grateful to have them so close to me. I am the first in my family to attend college. Even without degrees, my parents and grandparents worked extremely hard to support my 3 siblings and I. Recognizing their hard work and perseverance is what got me to where I am today. I will forever appreciate the amazing support that my family and my community have provided me the past 18 years, and I am going to provide them with all the help that I can once I am successful in my own life. For years now I have been trying to piece together the puzzle of my own life, thinking to myself that I can predict my entire future, although I know that is not the case. What I do know, however, is that 10, or even 50, years after graduation, I will reflect back on my life and my accomplishments with a smile. I recognize that my future is what I make of it, and I proudly accept that challenge.”
Attending: Pace University
Field of Interest: Biology/Pre-med
Ancticipated Graduation: May 2019
In her own words: “As a student awaiting to succeed in my career as a Physician’s Assistant, I hope to perceive my education from Pace University into the world of medicine. By focusing on studies, managing and balancing my time between educational and social aspects I will fulfill my career with courage and ambition to help all the people be a part of a healthy lifestyle. My mission is to help contribute into the Albanian American community. This mission consists of encouraging sanitation within medical cares by updating the quality of facilities throughout the Albanian region. As well as advancing technologies used to perform operations and procedures on patients being cured within hospitals located in Albania. With this in mind, my ultimate goal is to emphasize the importance of health care benefits throughout the Albanian nation for the advantage of our country and society as a whole.”
Nensi is the daughter of Dr. Elton Mara, a Board member of Vatra.