Name: Emina Halilovic
Hometown: Waukesha (originally from Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Course of Study: Biology and Psychology Major with a Pre-medicine emphasis
Were you a first generation college student?
I was a first generation college student. My parents did not get to get to go to college because it was simply not an option for them, and the rest of my family (cousins) were not able to go after the war. To be able to say that I went to college and got a degree is tear jerking. I’m so incredibly grateful for what I have been offered in terms of schooling, and I know that my entire family, not just my immediate family, is incredibly proud of me for attending college.
How did financial aid, including the Wisconsin Grant, help you complete your degree?
Financial Aid, including the Wisconsin Grant, helped me complete my degree because without the scholarships and grants that I got, I would have not been able to afford college. The financial situation of my parents at the time I was looking at colleges would not have allowed me to attend a university, especially a private school like Carroll University.
How did your degree help you in your career?
I have always wanted to be a pediatrician. Even after the war in Bosnia, I kept telling my mom and dad that one day I was going to be a doctor. My mom would just shed tears because it was right after the war, and we didn’t have enough money to live on a day to day basis, let alone send me to college. The fact that I am going on to medical school now and finally achieving all my dreams is one of the most amazing things.
Why do you think Wisconsin should continue to invest in student aid?
Wisconsin should definitely continue to invest in student aid because students who don’t necessarily have the privilege to go to college due to financial needs have the option to go to college due to the grant that they may receive. The grants that I received finalized my decision to attend Carroll University because I was finally able to afford it and go on to achieve my dream.
Why did you decide to stay in WI after graduation?
Even though Bosnia is my home, this is my second home. My family is here. I have spent 14 years of my life in Wisconsin. It has been so good to me and offered me so many amazing opportunities that I want to give back one day when I achieve my goals as a pediatrician and try to make a difference.
An article about Emina was recently featured in the Wisconsin Achievers publication:
When 8-year-old Emina Halilovic arrived in snowy Wisconsin with her parents and sister in 2002, she was unsure of where life was about to take her. As refugees from Bosnia, which was in the midst of a horrific war, the Halilovic family was part of the last group to flee the country and to receive official asylum in the United States. Unable to speak or understand English, they were placed in Waukesha, just five minutes from Carroll University.
Over the next decade, Emina learned English, became a U.S. citizen, and excelled in her studies with plans to attend college always at the top of her mind. When it came time to choose a college, she knew Carroll University was the place for her. “I am a very family-oriented person,” said Emina. “After all we had been through over the years, I knew that I wanted an exceptional college experience, but it was important for me to stay close to home.” Because of the Wisconsin Grant and other financial aid from Carroll, Emina was able to seize the opportunity to attend Carroll.
Long before Emina came to the United States, she knew she wanted to become a doctor, specifically a pediatrician. “I was around many sick children growing up in Bosnia and always tried to help them feel better,” she said. “When my father injured his back a few years ago, I took care of him, and that experience confirmed to me I was heading in the right direction.” In order to gain valuable experience, Emina began to volunteer for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in high school and has racked up over 4,000 service hours working in different areas including the burn program and respiratory and cardiac clinic. For the past year she has worked as an intern there, providing care and comfort to families when they need it most.
When she wasn’t at the hospital, Emina could be found working at her second job as a receptionist in the student affairs office on campus or serving as a Student Alumni Ambassador (sponsored by the Carroll University Alumni Council). “The relationships I’ve formed with staff members and other students here at Carroll have helped me succeed in and out of the classroom,” said Emina.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, two years ago Emina started ‘Walking in Their Shoes,’ a fundraising walk at Carroll to support children in Bosnia and spread awareness of education inequality around the world. This year, over 85 students, staff, faculty, and community members participated and raised $2,300 which helps provide monthly meals and transportation to school for eight children in Kamenica, Bosnia. “I want to give back because I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given,” she explains. “I have seen first-hand what it’s like to deal with hardships as a child. I know there are still children struggling in Bosnia, and I hate to see that.”
The future is bright for Emina, who graduated with a degree in biology premedicine in 2017. The experiences she’s gained through attending college at Carroll University have positively impacted her in many ways. She shares, “I want to be the change and initiate something that will make all children’s lives better.”