UGRAD SAM Alumni: Part I

For the first time in almost a decade, World Learning is not welcoming a large cohort of the best and the brightest from Serbia and Montenegro to U.S. campuses across the country. This is because the FORECAST-SAM and Global UGRAD-SAM Program came to end this past May. World Learning is proud to have supported 323 participants from Serbia and Montenegro (SAM) since 2007, many of whom are now very successful!

Over the next few editions of the Global Gazette, we will be featuring stories about what these alumni are doing now.  Thank you to all of the alumni who contributed–the response was truly inspiring and we look forward to continuing to feature your accomplishments.

Jovan Tatar UGRAD-SAM Alumni from Montenegro 2009-10 at the University of Wyoming recently graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Florida and will be continuing his career at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as an assistant professor in civil engineering.

Watch out undergrads, he’s going to be tough!






Ksenija Komljenović, Forecast/UGRAD Serbia 2010-11, Illinois State University is currently in her final year of doctoral studies at the University of

Miami Frost School of Music. If all goes according to plan, May 2017 will be the time when Ksenija will become the first Serbian woman with a D.M.A. in Percussion Performance.

The greatest impact of Ksenija’s Forecast experience is the realization that one holds enough power not only to change his/her life, but to influence others positively.

The building of intellectual and artistic bridges between cultures is an exceptionally important goal in Ksenija’s life. She is the co-founder and co-designer of the project called U.S. – Serbian Drumline Exchange, whose efforts brought the first professional drum line instructors and performers to Serbia in 2011 and 2012 to work with SPE, a pioneering drum line in the Balkans. In the past five years, she has single-handedly or collaboratively organized performances in Europe and the United States, and continues to focus her efforts on creating platforms for people of different cultures to meet and interact through art.

Milos Davidovic, UGRAD Serbia 2012-13, University of Mississippi

The Global UGRAD program had a massive impact on my life, and the lives of my loved ones. During my exchange year in the USA, I had the privilege of working with great professors, I met some amazing people, and visited places I could have only dreamed of until then. That one year has taught me the massive importance of tolerance, multiculturalism, and what it really means being a part of a community. I have become a better leader as a result of a program, and I genuinely feel that formal, and informal skills I have attained in the U.S. have helped me tremendously in my career, both academic as well as professional.

After my exchange year in the U.S. I have received a European Commission’s scholarship to continue graduate level studies in Sweden. As a result, I was not able to implement any community service projects in Serbia, for now at least.

However, my two year MA program in Sweden has now been completed, and I have found gainful employment with European Spallation Source, one of the largest Science Infrastructure projects in Europe at this time. Here, I work as an In-Kind Officer, facilitating collaboration between 15 Partner Countries, their scientific institutes, and ESS.

Milena Stojanovic, UGRAD Montenegro, University of Minnesota 2012-13

What many of my close friends know by now is that Global UGRAD program inspired me to take a slightly different direction in my studies. Before Global UGRAD, I studied at the Biotechnical Faculty of Montenegro with an idea to pursue a degree in Enology (Wine Making Science). However, the Carlson School of Business (University of Minnesota) and their brilliant professors inspired me to take a different look into the wine industry. Besides my interesting wine tasting classes I was surprised to discover how much I liked the business side of my studies which is why I have decided to combine both.

I enrolled a master’s program in Bordeaux, France and needless to say all the recommendations of my American professors helped me to get admitted into the Master Program of Wine Marketing and Management (INSEEC).

Last year I obtained my Master diploma and I am happy to say that today I am working in an industry where I always wanted to be – wine. Many of my friends think that I have the most exciting job that anyone could have. In most of the times I agree with them.

I work as a Junior Export Manager for one of the best Italian wineries (Masciarelli) and as a part of my job is to regularly visit all 55 markets of the world where we do exports. So far I’ve done 15 countries – still 40 more to go. The best part of my work is that in most of the countries where I go, I have friends whom I thought I would hardly meet again after our studies (pretty amazing to find yourself in Shanghai, drinking wine with your ex-Chinese classmates). Needless to say I was wrong and that the world has become so connected – a fact that makes me happy.

My job has also brought me again to U.S., this time in much warmer place (California) where I went to sell some wine. It was funny when an owner of a wine bar in San Francisco whom I met by chance told me that he already knew one Montenegrin – Milan, who was a brilliant Global UGRAD student who spoke several languages and at time, worked a couple of hours at his bar. I get to experience these type of stories almost on a daily basis which makes my life happy and interesting.

Besides the fact that now I speak 2 more languages – French and Italian – my biggest achievement is that I am a happy and healthy person who so far has been blessed with numerous chances and opportunities. I am grateful to all of the people that gave me the chance but I will never forget my first ever international experience and will proudly continue to feel a part of Global UGRAD family.

Ever since Alan Kovacevic returned to Serbia from the University of Arkansas in 2013-14, he has been invested in several activities, motivated by his time in the U.S.

I have been a part of the Libertarian Club’s Academy of Liberal Policy, where I did not only learn new things, but with whom I’ve organized several events, such as Freedom and Reforms Conference in Belgrade in 2014, Tax Payers March, calling for more efficient and transparent government, etc. With the European Students for Liberty – Faculty of Economics, I’ve organized panel discussions and conferences on political and economic liberty.

Currently, I am working as a Junior Analyst at a USAID-funded Business Enabling Project (USAID BEP), trying to improve the Serbian business environment. Specifically, I am working on the Serbian budgetary system, making the state budget more transparent and functional. I have served as a Project Assistant Intern at the same project between May and November 2015, when I have worked on Access to Finance for Small and Medium-sized enterprises. The picture above is from an event by USAID BEP, held for previous interns at the project.

The biggest impact my U.S. experience had on me is the boost to my self-confidence. I am more confident in my abilities, knowledge and ideas, and I am not afraid to share them freely and express my opinions in public. Furthermore, the knowledge I gained while studying in the U.S. helped me immensely not only as I am finishing my undergrad studies in Serbia, but also on my internships and current job. Overall, I believe that the U.S. year was the best year of my life, and I still miss U.S. and Arkansas dearly.


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