UGRAD SAM Alumni: Part II

This is the second part of the FORECAST/Global UGRAD for Serbia and Montenegrin update. We continue to be impressed and inspired by their accomplishments!


Vuk Stojkovic (Serbia), Forecast/UGRAD Alum 2008-09 at Grand Valley State University is currently a Marketing

Specialist at Merit Solutions Inc, a Chicago-based IT consulting company. After UGRAD, Vuk learned the value of learning about different cultures and was part of the Work & Travel program 2011 in Alaska, graduating as first ever foreign master level student at the Graduate School of Management in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2013. Vuk is also active in the community sector as CEO of a local Serbian NGO called “Association for creativity development VIDIHOD” with a goal of helping people develop creativity inside themselves and bring impact to their lives and the lives of those that surround them. The NGO is designed as an association of people who are willing to join and help others through any form of action. Our successful actions so far include basketball court restoration, drawing murals, organizing art exhibitions, children’s workshops, etc.



Bozidar Vlacic (Montenegro), Forecast/UGRAD Alum 2010-11 at the University of Maine is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Vigo in Spain.


This exchange program opened my horizons and defined my future. Moving from Montenegro, a small country with inborn structures of mentality very resistant to change to study and travel in USA it was huge shock for me. Mostly because people in the US are very adaptable to changes and willing to hear other opinions from my perspective. I had the opportunity to meet a full diversity of cultures, opinions and lifestyles where all dreams really can come true if you work hard. More importantly, the level and way of study as well the life goals that I acquired from professors at UMaine helped me define what I want to do in my life and how to do many things on day to day basis. They educated and mentored me not only from an academic perspective, but also to become a more open, goal oriented, and self motivated person. They taught me to never quit!

After that year, with that amazing experience, I returned to Montenegro to finish my bachelor studies at Faculty of Economics in Podgorica. I realized that most of my colleagues and professors had better opinions about me and higher expectations since my level of knowledge increased tremendously, and I continued to follow the blueprints for success that were shown to me at UMaine. While studying in Montenegro I tried mostly to help students by relaying to them the benefits of traveling and meeting new cultures, and I was active in the student council in my Home Faculty. Upon completing my undergraduate studies I received scholarship from Erasmus Mundus program (SIGMA), for a one-year master’s exchange at Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland.

In meanwhile, I was working a lot with high school students as a professor and as an assistant at the Faculty of Business in Bar, Montenegro. I found my interest in educating other people and acquiring knowledge, therefore the next logical step was to continue my education. I received full time scholarship for PhD studies at University of Vigo, Spain under Erasmus +, GreenTech WB program.

Finally, I hope that more people will be able in future to participate in this amazing program and to experience what it means to study and become part of the U.S. education system and way of thinking. There are good sides and bad sides of any program, mostly because after returning home people are hard to change back from the U.S. way of life, but these are processes that can only help young people and reshape them as human beings. As Muhamad Ali said, “If you didn’t change your opinions from age 20 until you were 40, you wasted 20 years of your life.” I am extremely thankful for people working on the Global UGRAD who were very helpful and willing to help us at any moment.

Mijana Spasic (Serbia), UGRAD Alum 2010-11, North Dakota State University

I have a life before and after the U.S. because my time at the North Dakota State University  was really the peak in my life. I have been living abroad for 6 years already, but this experience is really incomparable to anything I have gone through in my life. It has boosted my professional and personal development. Even today, it feels somewhat unreal everything I have experienced and gone through in the U.S. It was like a 9 month dream.  I have immensely enhanced my theoretical and practical knowledge, to the point that I can even utilize it 5 years later in my current job position. However, I think the U.S. experience has really had the most impact on my personal development and on my path forward in life. I am so happy to have had the chance to meet people from all over the globe, to learn about their culture, tradition, languages, and to embrace these differences. At NDSU, I have also met friends for a life time, both American and foreign students that I am still in close touch with. After my year in the U.S., it was clear for me that I wanted to live abroad and develop myself in a diverse international environment. This experience helped me mature, get self-sufficient and independent, and be goal-oriented about getting myself exactly where I want to be. Finally, this experience has also boosted my CV and helped me get the positions that I wanted because everyone was amazed how I have made it to get such a competitive scholarship and to succeed in a new environment by myself at a such an early age.

I am currently part of the TOP START International Leader Program at BASF in Germany. It is a cross-functional leadership development program for the future BASF leaders. It has three rotations, out of which one has to be abroad. My first rotation is at the Global Supply Chain Care Chemicals where I am responsible for Inventory Management and Integrated Business Planning for our global projects. My second rotation will be in Hong Kong as the Global Product Management in charge of margin management, value pricing and forecasting/budgeting.

Kristina Koprovica (Serbia), UGRAD Alum 2010-11, University of Maine

Kristina currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia as a marketing manager and executive assistant to the CEO of the Export Council of Australia. In her spare time, Kristina is volunteering for Sydney Mardi Gras and Queer Screen film festival, concentrating her efforts on helping achieve marriage equality in Australia. America has traditionally been referred to as a “melting pot,” and through the UGRAD exchange program Kristina got the opportunity to be added to the pot, which helped her broaden her horizons in ways unimaginable to her prior to this experience. Kristina has a degree in journalism and now writes stories for her travel blog which she launched in 2016.


Romana Pehar (Montenegro), UGRAD Alum 2012-13, Humboldt State University

As someone who spent two semesters at Humboldt State University in northern California, I can say with great nostalgia that I spent those ten months in a place with a perfect climate and landscape among incredibly kind and friendly people. The biggest effect of the scholarship was gaining independence, meeting amazing people, and reaching my full artistic potential as a student. Since then, I am constantly searching for a similar scholarship for my MFA abroad. I have learned the German language (currently B2) and presently I am working as an Art teacher in an elementary school. I have my own studio too, and by the time Gazette is out, my second solo exhibition (in Kotor, Montenegro) will be over and some of my drawings will be exhibited at the final exhibition of Osten Bienal of Drawing in Skopje, Macedonia.




Marija Gavrilov (Serbia), UGRAD Alum 2012-2013, American Univeristy

Studying in the U.S. helped me realize how powerful the multidisciplinary approach is – even though I graduated with a

degree in sociology, I’m working in the IT and tech industry now, focusing on helping tech startups get off the ground and building a tech army of Serbian youngsters.

My work is community-oriented every day — I work with Startit (NGO, funded through its own internal startup) on building a strong local tech startup community as a way or raising employment and overall well-being of our society. We do this in several ways: one, by providing high quality content through our blog with an audience of over 60,000 people; two, opening Startit Centers across Serbia to provide space for educational and knowledge-sharing activities such as coding classes or tech/startup meetups (we’ve opened Startit Center in Belgrade and Indjija — in November opening two more in the cities of Novi Sad and Vrsac); three, we provide both free and paid educational programs for startup founders, iOS programmers and web developers. This past summer around 250 children went through the program, making their first moves in programming free of charge. Our goal is to educate 100,000 people in the next 5 years for work in the healthiest industry of Serbia, which is IT.

A year ago I created a successful Kickstarter campaign — check it out here:

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