For Balkans War Survivor, Commencement is Only the Beginning

Honors College Senior Will Pursue a Life that Aids People in Poverty and War

“I was standing, nestled between my older sister and my cousin, in the back of our one room refugee bunker in April of 1994, when my mother came in, kneeled in front of us and uttered the four words that still resonate in my mind: ‘Your father is dead.’”

So begins the narrative of Emina Sadic, a graduating senior at the University of Houston, who survived war in the Balkans and life in the refugee camps. She will graduate with a degree in English and political science.

“My memory of the living conditions of the refugee camp will never be obliterated from my mind, nor do I wish for that to occur; I use the memory of my violent past to reinforce my desire to provide aid for people in extreme poverty or in war zones,” she says. 

Sadic, who studied at the Honors College of the University of Houston, will receive her diploma in commencement ceremonies for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, at 9 a.m., Friday, May 11 at Hofheinz Pavilion.  She says the conflict that plagued the Balkans in the early 1990s defined her childhood.  Expelled with her family from her native Bosnia, she was displaced to five countries.  She learned three languages during that time, and gained an understanding of how war impacts the individual.

“Having experienced my childhood in a refugee camp prompted me to pursue a degree in political science and enter the fields of international law and human rights violations,” she says.  “The first-hand experience of living in a refugee camp motivated me to pursue higher education because I am lucky and blessed to be living in America today and to be able make something of myself.”

Sadic will leave Texas and the U.S. after graduation to teach English in France, while she waits to hear about two NATO internships for which she has applied.  Eventually, she hopes to work for the U.S. State Department.  She adds that on commencement day, as she crosses the stage in front of professors and fellow students, she’ll remember the family who brought her to this point, but she won’t be looking back.

“Most importantly, I will be thinking about what the future has in store for me because graduating from UH is just the beginning of my life,” Sadic said.