While many high school students approach graduation with an understandable sense of dread and panic in regards to choosing a career and a future for themselves, I have been blessed to discover my calling at a very young age. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 civil war, my family and I were forced to flee our home and immigrate to Slovenia as refugees in 1994 and eventually the United States in 1999. While our story may seem unique, many other families were forced to embark on similar journeys, often losing family members to village militias conducting ethnic cleansing campaigns. Even as a child, I knew that this was wrong. I knew that nobody should ever be killed, tortured, or displaced based on not just their religion, but their ethnic background, skin color, or any other distinction beyond their control. My innate belief in the importance of justice is what ultimately led me to pursue a career in law.
In school, I studied diligently because I knew that to achieve my dream I would have to excel academically. In 2011, I graduated as the salutatorian of my senior class, a member of national honor society, and the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper. Unlike many of my fellow graduates, I was ecstatic to attend college not so much to pursue my adolescent freedom, as much as I viewed it as the first step towards becoming an attorney. During my junior year of college, I made the decision to study abroad in the Netherlands.
While the Netherlands is an amazing country full of natural beauty, history, and exquisite art, I was drawn to it because of its place in the arena of international law. The Netherlands is not only home to the International Criminal Court, but also the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and most important to me, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. During my time in the Netherlands, I was able to view the trial of a former Bosnian war criminal that commanded the troops that killed my uncle and left my cousins without a father. While I knew that I would be shaken by the experience, I never realized what a huge effect it would have on me.
Upon my return home I decided to apply to the Webster University Combined Degree Program, a program that allows you to attain your master’s degree while completing your undergraduate degree. I was immediately accepted into the program, and I decided to pursue my master’s degree in international relations. While the law will always be my passion, during my time abroad I realized that because of my experiences as a refugee fleeing genocide, simply becoming a lawyer would never make me feel whole. I have now decided to pursue a career as an international lawyer focusing on fighting human rights abuses all around the world. I want to dedicate myself to ensuring that every victim of war, genocide, or crimes against humanity receives justice in a court of law.
We are proud to announce Samra Cordic is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.