Scholarship and Personal Development Program
October – December 2014
Last quarter of the calendar year was not really hectic for our students as the previous one. At the end of the previous quarter we have welcomed 14 new students so our focus was geared towards helping them adjust to the university life and Bosana scholarship requirements. We wanted to help them connect with the rest of the group in order for them to feel like they are part of our big family. Most of the new students were just starting college and they were trying to embrace their new obligations, adapt to the new environment and a new city. At the end of the quarter students had midterms and are still awaiting their results. For most part, the results that we know thus far are positive and encouraging that the students will not have a problem to successfully complete this semester. The month of December and January are set out for exams that will take place at the end of January and beginning of February.
Students and Program Update:
The beginning of the new academic year can be challenging for the new students but for some current students as well. Students that are new need some time to adapt, settle into the new city, find new friends and adjust to the new educational structure. Students that have completed one or two years in college are now trying to fulfil all requirements while getting exposed to new course material. For some students, they still have to pass classes from previous semester or a year so this can be an issue if too many classes add up.
Overall, this has been a quiet semester. It takes couple of months of going through course material before midterms happen and they have started for most of our students in December, but majority of them are still waiting on results. It is important for students to get good grades on their midterms, subsequently that will help them once the time comes to take the final exams. Some courses can be passed just by passing all midterms or it might at least help them get higher grades. We are constantly encouraging our students to be consistent, to study regularly and get good grades on their midterms so there is less stress during the final exam season. In the following quarter we will have concrete information about their academic success in this semester. Currently, most of our students are positive and believe that there should be no issues with their academic results.
Highlights of the quarter:
Two of our students have been hired by Rukom Concept Store on part-time basis during the holiday season at the Sarajevo Holiday Market. This was a great opportunity for our students to gain some experience plus it was an opportunity to earn extra money for their everyday needs.
One of our students from Trebinje proposed a humanitarian action because she has heard about a mother and a daughter that are barely surviving, have poor living conditions, and are in need of basic needs. She asked the rest of the students to gather clothes and other necessities in order to help this family. The project was very well received with the rest of the group. They all joined and collected what they could, some sent part of their scholarship directly to this family bank account. They also sent clothes and school supplies to Tuzla where some of our students live to gather all the donations and take them directly to the family. Students then submitted a report to describe the whole process and what they have learned.
This was a very noble notion from our students who themselves have very little to share. They decide to give as much they can and help a family in need. What is even more noteworthy is the fact that students realized that they were happy to be able to help someone; so far they have been on the receiving end of the humanitarian aid.
We are so proud that our students are giving back to the community. This is the ultimate goal for us, to continue the circle of giving to inspire our students to give back to their community and inspire other members of community to do so. They have learned that it is not important how much you can give but the fact that you want to help people in need and that it is coming from the goodness of one’s heart. The amount of that help is irrelevant.
After this project was completed and they have seen how successful it was even with limited donations from them, they decided to find a way to do similar projects every month in different cities. Right now they are trying to form groups and team leaders in order to implement this idea.
We are confident that our students will continue with these little projects that will bring happiness to many other little girls.
This quarter did not have any major challenges. We are trying to stay on top of our student’s needs. We are offering tutoring to students that might need additional help with the midterm exams. In the next quarter they will have to be ready for final exams for the fall semester and we want to make sure they have all the help that we can offer.
July – September 2014
This quarter is always the most challenging for the students and staff of Bosana Foundation because it is the time of final exams, selection of new students and time when it is decided who will transition to the next academic year. It is very stressful time of the year for our students but they also get to relax at home for month or so if they finish their studies on time. The highlight of this quarter is certainly our bi-annual Bosana Team building gathering. Our students have learned so much more about their peers, the Foundation and about themselves in these couple of days spent in nature.
At the end of academic 2013/2014 year we had 38 students that also included our six students in the Professional Development Program. They have all taken their exams and gave their best efforts to pass them. We are proud to say that majority managed to pass required exams and transition to next year. Unfortunately we have one student that was on probation for the past year and he did not meet his requirements to transition into the second year therefore he permanently lost his scholarship. Another student has failed most of his critical exams and has decided to pause the coming year to determine if he wants to continue studying medicine. This student also had serious personal and family problems that affected his ability to focus on school. Its unfortunate, but after much consideration, both of these students have lost their scholarships.
Two students that were on probation last year were reinstated as regular students for the upcoming school year since they met their requirements and were eligible to transition to next year. However, on the other hand, we have also put two students that were selected as our freshmen scholarship recipients last year, on probation due to unfulfilled academic requirements. We are hoping that they will pass remaining exams in order to be in their second year in October 2015. It is important to mention here that all of our students get one year of “Grace period” where they can retake the year and have the scholarship suspended. However, this is only allowed for one year and they have to pass all exams on time for the remaining academic years.
We are also happy to report that we had 9 graduates this year but three of them did not manage to completely finish with all of their requirements as they have passed exams but still have to prepare and defend their final diploma paper.
During the month of July, we accepted new scholarship applications until August 15th when the application process was closed and we had until the beginning of September to determine our new scholarship recipients. We are proud to say that this year we have received 186 applications, which is more than ever before. This show that the popularity of our scholarship is increasing and that students know more about our Foundation. Scholarship Selection Committee, comprised of five members nominated from five different organizations with whom we have worked closest this past year had a very difficult task to select only top 20 students that they would recommend for the scholarship. Once we received this list, those students that received three votes or more were considered for the final list. Considering this list and our current financial status, we decided to accept 14 new students into our program. We have to point out that this year we have transferred 4 students from our Professional Development program into our Scholarship program since their financial situation changed and they required financial assistance in order to continue. Our little family has grown significantly since our first group of eight was accepted in 2010 and we are excited to enter into a new year with almost 50 students in our Scholarship and Professional Development Program.
Our new students have expanded our coverage of new cities and new majors. In addition to others, we now have students also from Breza, Kladanj, Tesanj, Kljuc, Bijeljina, Srebrenica, Zepce, while their majors are varying from theology to international relations, agronomy, medicine, communications, mechanical engineering, etc.
In order to welcome new students and introduce them to the rest of our current students we have organized two-day Bosana Team Building activities. During these two days students got a chance to meet each other; new students were introduced to the current students and Bosana staff. We all hiked to Prokosko Lake, it was a long hike to the top but it was even more exciting to go back down mountain Vranica during unexpected rain. That is when every one of them has shown how much they are willing to help each other and collaborate to reach the finish line. During the hike up the mountain we have heard students complain, they wanted to give up and go back, but they all made it to the top and were happy that they were a part of this adventure.
The rest of the time was spent indoors due to the rain. Students have played different team building games, they were divided in groups and each group had a task to create few games. This part of the gathering was very dynamic and attention-grabbing. Bosana staff prepared rewards for students that were more engaged than others, that were more helpful and memorable in that way or were the life of the party. They chose a student that was most helpful and motivating during the challenging hikes, one student that was the most entertaining, best new students, and student that made the gathering more eventful.
The highlights of the students’ gathering were stories and introductions of both current and new students. They have shared their life stories, they have shared their hopes and dreams and their vision of Bosana foundation. It was rewarding to hear our students talk about what Bosana’s support means to them and it was an enormous incentive for the staff to continue their involvement, help this organization grow so we can accept more amazing students next year.
Group photo was taken at the end of the gathering and students who attended held names of the students that could not make it to the gathering to show that they are missed and that they are part of our big family.
*Two of our students went to Dubrovnik with their Mentors for a long weekend. This was great opportunity for two of our students living in different cities to bond and also to spend quality time with their mentors from the United States.
*One of our graduating students completed here diploma from the Art Academy in Banjaluka with honors and got a full scholarship to go to Budapest and continue her studies. She also won an award where she will get to spend 6 weeks in New York. She will most likely also receive her own exhibition in London.
*One of our graduating students got an internship and went to Italy for a month after successfully defending her diploma paper and finishing college. Bosana paid for her trip that she was otherwise not able to attend.
*Two students were awarded with tickets to the opening of Sarajevo Film Festival that they attended with Bosana President.
*We found summer paid work for two of our students that helped them and their families.
*One of our graduating students was invited to go to a Youth Conference in Denmark in October, 2015.
*We have received the highest number of applications so far-186 scholarship applications.
*One of our students was sent to Spain for a month by the organization where she volunteers to cover the FIBA World Championship in Basketball organized in Spain.
*One of our graduating students was selected as this year’s Bosana student of the year and received $500 award. He has many plans for the future and is grateful to Bosana foundation for this award which will help him start his new life and job hunting.
Challenges we face in this quarter are usually related to final exams. We had few surprises because couple of students that did not meet their requirements were very good students this entire year. They have fulfilled their obligations towards Bosana and university but in the end they failed exams they were sure that they will pass. This is unfortunately something that’s very common in BIH university system that is out of the control of the students. A lot of politics and corruption play part in education and this affects even our students. Its is also unfortunate that we lost permanently two of our scholarship recipients because they did not fulfill their requirements with the second chance given. For all of our students and those that we come in contact, we remain committed to helping them other ways besides financial and so we will continue to provide moral support as long as they need us. Four of our graduating students will need help in the next semester, three are not completely finished with their final papers so we will help them during the time they need to finish them; one of them will have to repeat the final year due to one exam he was not able to complete on time.
This second quarter was an extremely successful quarter as far as the financial contributions towards Bosana Foundation. First, there was Seattle Benefit help at the beginning of April that raised close to $10,000 for our programs and our Bosana Annual Benefit held on May 10th that was also an enormous success. We have raised $52K which means that funds are secured for the current group of students enrolled in our scholarship program. We will also be able to accept new students in the upcoming 2014/2015 academic year. In this quarter, we also experienced a natural disaster where Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit with the worst floods in the last century and many families, including those of our students were affected. At the same time we were able to see how much Bosana program and the ideals that we were trying to convey really meant to our students. We are proud to report that all of our students have been a part of the solution in this natural disaster. They have volunteered to go clean up affected areas, to prepare rescue packages; they have organized small fundraisers and even donated as much as they could. Together with our donors in Orange County, CA they collected prom dresses for the girls who were supposed to graduate this year to at least put a smile on their faces for one evening.
Students were preparing for their midterms and exams that were scheduled in the first and second month of this quarter; however, catastrophic floods have affected most of the country. Classes were postponed so student body could help in the clean-up process and our students have taken seriously this responsibility. All the attention shifted to flooded areas and different ways they could help their friends and neighbors. Our students have helped with clean-up after the floods, they packed food and other necessities, and they have organized fundraisers at their colleges. Female students have also agreed to donate their dresses for the girls from Maglaj that are graduating from high school. Maglaj was one of the cities that was completely destroyed, and people lost everything. Since high school graduation was postponed until august they have decided to collect prom dresses from their friends and themselves. These dresses might not be so important in the time like this, but it was a very nice gesture and certainly something that students and parents will appreciate when the time comes.
This year we will have nine (9) students graduate college. This is our official first graduating class of Bosana students who have started with us from year one until now. As a result, we have geared our focus towards helping these students become self-sufficient or those who wish to continue their studies to find the best universities. At this point, we know that at least 5 students are sure that they want to continue their education and obtain Masters degree. Three wish to attend universities outside of BIH but some have not submitted their paperwork on time and might not be able to start college in September but will have to wait until spring semester.
Our students are still taking some of their exams and they will continue to take into the beginning of next quarter. At this point, we are still waiting for results but majority of our 38 students are in good academic standing.
Updates from the last report:
We have reported last quarter that we have 9 students graduating, and majority would like to continue their education. Unfortunately, due to the changes in schedules and postponed classes, few students will not be able to make the deadline to apply for the graduate program. In the upcoming year these students will be transferred into the Professional Development program until they are accepted to the graduate program of their choosing. Students who are not interested in continuing education will have the support from the organization in their employment seeking endeavors. President of the foundation is currently focused on this next stage of the program where we want to secure employment for our students by connecting with different local companies that will offer employment to our students based on their qualifications and recommendations. She has been working on this plan for some time and we really hope that this way Bosana will be able to help our students transition into the next phase of their life.
--Nadja K., second year economy student from Bihac has won the essay competition. The task was to write an essay on topic “How to solve youth unemployment in BiH”. Reward for the best essay was a trip to Los Angeles to attend Bosana’s 5th Annual benefit. Nadja gave a speech at the event and expressed her gratitude to all the donors on behalf of all Bosana students. Donors appreciated the fact that they got to meet one of our students and learn more about everyday issues they are facing. It was beneficial for our donors to learn firsthand how much Bosana means to these students.
--Two of our Professional Development students edited Bosana video for the annual event. They have put a lot of effort into this video to help us and contribute toward the work of the foundation. Video was focused on two days of the team building organized for Bosana students back in March.
--Selma S., art student at University of Banja Luka has been a center of attention this quarter. It was announced that she will be the artist that will open summer festival in Croatia and in less than a week it was announced that she received a prestigious award for her creativity and innovation. Her work is being honored by the Center for Contemporary Art Sarajevo (SCCA). The award “Zvono 2014” has been awarded to Selma for her work created in the last two years. She has been trying to express her standpoints about treatment of the Roma people, to show that she is not ashamed of her background and to show how much Roma people are misunderstood, neglected and ostracized from the society.
--Svjetlana P., our student from Banja Luka attended “Sajam Praksi i Stipendija” on behalf of Bosana Foundation. She shared information about scholarship program and her experience as our student. This is the first time that we had our student representing the organization on their own and we are very excited to see new students in this role. We are hoping that we will have more of our students representing the foundation and spreading the word about our programs and benefits of the same.
Due to the catastrophic floods that happen in the Balkans, exam schedules for many universities have changed. Classes were stopped temporarily and rescheduled in the month of May to help those in need. Students whose families were not affected by floods offered their help to their peers. Exam schedules were shifted but the change in dates of testing should not affect individual academic performance of our students. Right now, majority of our students are in good academic standing. They are still waiting on results and exams are scheduled through July. We will have more specific information about their academic progress in the next quarter.
Since its our first year with dealing with our graduating class, some mistakes were made in preparing our students better for the Masters program. The BiH educational system is very different from the ones in other countries where students have to apply months in advance. Many did not know this and did not submit their applications on time, which means that they will not be able to start their programs in September but will have to wait until Spring semester. This is a lesson learned for us to make sure we warn our graduating students to think ahead when they need to apply for universities for those who wish to study abroad.
January- March 2014
The first quarter of this year has been thus far the most promising start of the new year with so many great opportunities and productive results that we hope will spill to all other quarters for the remainder of the year. Our students were also in the midst of exams so our focus was to also make sure they produce good results. Still, the most exciting part of this quarter was the Bosana students Team building that the Bosana Board has decided to become a focal part of the scholarship program each year.
All thirty-eight (38) Bosana students in this first quarter had to prepare for their midterms and final semester exams that were scheduled in the first and second month of this quarter. Few of our students had also “carried over” few of their exams from the previous academic year that they had to pass in order to be able to advance into the following year. For some this presented a problem and a lot more work but only one student that was already on suspension failed to pass his exams and will be removed from the scholarship program. The rest of the students were taking exams only from the classes taken in the fall/winter semester of 2013/2014. Overall it was a successful semester.
Majority of our students have taken and passed all of their exams. We still have few students that were not able to take exams due to the unavailability of professors and they will have to wait for April to be able to take these exams. Other students were not able to take those classes that they did not pass in this semester because they are not offered in the midterm of the year but rather only at the end of each year. This year, we are expecting to have seven graduates and we are trying to help these students take their final exams and prepare for the next step, whether we are talking about continuing their higher education or venturing into the employment world.
Since Bosana Foundation registered in 2010, this will be our first “graduating class” of our scholarship recipients so we are very excited to show our donors these seven graduates who otherwise would not be able to have a college diploma. For those graduating this year, we have transferred them into our Professional Development program, which is more geared towards preparing them for life after college. This means that they are excused from volunteering the 10 hours minimum that our students must complete and rather we encourage them to spent this time studying, writing their resumes, applying for jobs and possibly even starting to either volunteer or work at potential companies that might employ them after finishing their universities.
We have also forged a new partnership with CPE (Centre for Professional Education) that will give all of our students take free classes that they offer: among them are language classes, computers, graphic and web design, etc.
Worth mentioning is one of our students Mirzet Omerovic studying Economy at the University in Tuzla who drastically improved his grades after receiving a laptop donation from a company in Sarajevo, “Wood Team” whom we contacted amongst other donors asking to help us get Mirzet a laptop because he really needed it for his studies and also to be able to make additional income to help his parents. This new laptop inspired Mirzet to try even harder to succeed and also to show his appreciation to Bosana Foundation and our donors. This shows how our students recognize the opportunities we are giving them and are willing to work hard.
Nevertheless, the most rewarding and exciting news of this quarter is the students’ gathering for Bosana Team Building that took place for two days, which included an 8hour hike to the highest village on the Bjelasnica mountain and the next day rafting on the Neretva river in Konjic. The goal of the team building was for all of our students to get together, collaborate and learn more about nature and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our goal was also for students to do something that none of them have ever done, to test their limits and through this team building of survival in nature, extreme weather, necessity for collaboration and support of one another learn that only together can they achieve real results, that they put limits on themselves what they think that they can and cannot do and that the hard and most exhausting moments are when you are at the top, right before you succeed. This was an amazing adventure and an eye opener for many students who thought they could never climb a mountain, walk for that long, had fear of water, lacked social skills, etc. At the end of these two days, all students went home with new and real friendships, appreciation for one another and themselves, and with a memory that will last them a lifetime. It was also a nice and rewarding break for many after the exams and before the new semester.
During this Team Building weekend students also presented their Vision Boards, an assignment that was given to them to give them an opportunity to portray their hopes and dreams of the future. Students voted amongst themselves and chose Edin Serifovic vision board as the best one. His reward will be to help him towards a realization of one of the visions from the board, which will be most likely a bike trip to Greece this summer. Selma Kurtanovic vision board was awarded second place and she won 100KM.
Final update of this quarter was the essay contest that we offered to all of our students to write on the topic “how would they address the unemployment problem of the youth in BIH”. The prize for the best essay was an all paid trip to Los Angeles for one of the students to attend our 5th Annual Benefit and for a chance to meet our donors. On march 31st, an essay committee comprised of seven (7) members selected Nadja Kasumovic essay as the best one. Nadja was also selected our best student last year and received a laptop.
Some of the students had issues with their exams due to some of their personal problems but also not being able to pass their exams and therefore not satisfying our expectations from each student that’s required to maintain the scholarship. While we always do our best to avoid any student losing the scholarship, for some its simply not possible unless they do their part and pass the exams. Currently, we have one student who has notified us on time that due to his medical problems he might not be able to successfully complete the year and we are always sympathetic to students who come to us on time and show that they are doing their best bust are simply prevented due to medical problems. However, one of the students has lost his scholarship after this semester because his contract stated that unless he passes all of his grates in this semester he will lose the scholarship because he was already given a second chance when he decided to completely change majors and start from beginning. However, since he is a child from an orphanage without any family, we have given him a third and last chance that he has to pass all of his classes by the end of the school year and if he is able to continue into the next school year in September, that we will reinstate his scholarship. This is the final chance that we will give him; however, from now until September his scholarship funds are frozen.
Donor driven update worth mentioning:
At the end of January, Selma Cosic, a young lady originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina how now lives and works in Richmond, Virginia organized a private fundraiser with a group of her closest friends and she raised $1000. Soon after this event, she also decided to start a campaign to raise additional $3,000 by running a marathon with a group of her friends. She managed to even surpass that amount and raise $3,600. In addition to that, she will use her companies matching funds to match everything that she has raised and she hopes that by June of this year, she will have donated to Bosana together with her company $10,000. This is just one of the events that has been organized by our supporters in 2014 and it only goes to show how much Bosana Foundation is making an impact on young people both in BiH and around the world.
Scholarship and Personal Development Program
October - December 2013
In the previous quarter, Bosana Foundation had accepted eleven (11) additional scholarship recipients that in this quarter we focused on assimilating to our programs, with our previous students and evaluating their readiness to succeed in the school year, as well as determining what we need to do to on individual basis to help these new students. Since our numbers are growing, and now we have thirty one (31) students, it has become even more evident that the focus of this quarter and the following year, will have to be geared towards implementing a more vigilant and systematic monitoring and evaluation of individual students, especially new students that are still trying to get used to their new obligations. Several new scholarship recipients already were volunteers and they had no problem continuing with their volunteer obligations, while few of them still needed some time to find the organization and to adjust their school schedules to this duty. In all, since the school year started at the end of October and students do not start their exams until January, there is not much to report on student’s academic status. However, we do have some interesting news about new fundraisers and students’ initiatives.
Students and Program Update:
New academic year brings new obligations and additional tasks for our students because they start new classes and with that also fitting in their volunteer obligations. When it comes to academic success, this has been a fairly calm quarter because they do not start exams until mid January. Therefore, most of our students focused on attending their classes, volunteering, some even decided to use these couple of months to put in some extra volunteer hours so they have more time for studying once the exam begin. Some also requested to access the funds available for each student as part of their professional development to either sign up for language classes, attend seminars or purchase laptops because they determined that it was necessary to assure success in the coming school year.
Here are some of the highlights of this quarter:
Program Fundraising & Financial Updates
In October, a fundraising event held at the Gymnasium Apeldoorn in Holland, was completed. This event was organized by a high school student originally from BiH. Sehida Begovic was the girl that started this, and the goal was to use the 100th birthday of her school for fundraising, and all the proceeds were dedicated to the Bosana Foundation. The school managed to raise 6,628.00 in one day. They have sold food, jewelry, entertainment, etc. This event shows that Bosana is making an impact not only on lives of orphaned and marginalized youth that it severs but on young people all around the world.
As our number of students grows and our volunteer staff number remains the same, we are noticing a challenge in maintaining as close of a relationship with all of our students as we had in the past. Their problems are many but fortunately, with many issues we have dealt in the past so we have a protocol to fall back on. In addition, monitoring all students’ progress remains a challenge and so we need to standardize and simply our monitoring tools to assure that it covers all possible challenges and yet it does not take more of our time.
The upcoming challenge in the coming quarters will be finding more resources for our professional development program, especially those students who are graduating this year because we want to make sure that we best prepare them for the world after college, including helping them become self-sufficient citizens with a job after college.
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