I was born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia. Regardless of where my current doormat is, Skopje will always remain home. I moved out somewhere near the end of my Bachelor’s degree studies at Justinianus Primus Law School, to pursue a Master’s degree in Global Public Policy at RANEPA, located in Moscow. Aside from the great academic experience that I went received, RANEPA was definitely an eye-opening educational institution, as well as a truly open forum for the exchange of ideas that could never leave you indifferent. During this period, I interned at the Center of Resource Economies and through my research, I became familiar with a few of the intricacies related to the Oil and Gas field and how it coexists and stems from domestic and international power relations. Moreover, I was also fortunate enough to be a part of the American Institute of Political and Economic Systems: first as a student and then as a program assistant, where I had the chance to learn more about conflict management, political economy, and philosophy. It was a true pleasure to be a part of an amazing team that magically ran all of the behind-the-scenes operations. It was at AIPES that I got the opportunity to meet more than 400 people from 60 different countries and build relationships that I continue to nurture up until this day. They not only had a huge impact on me as a person but also with respect to my future career and my general outlook on life. From Moscow, I continued with an LL.M. in Business Law in Central Europe at Charles University Law School in Prague. As soon as I completed the regular semester and presented my thesis, I was lucky enough to drop my next anchor in Shanghai. This was because I started working for LearningLeaders, which is an educational consulting company that specializes in providing services in the fields of debate and public speaking. Being able to utilize my passion for education and critical thinking, paired with the fact that I was surrounded by a great group of people, made Shanghai feel just like Skopje even though it is located halfway across the planet.
There are three personal achievements that I want to highlight. The first one is staying in touch with friends and family. Despite the fact that we do not always share the same physical space, I am proud to say that I still do regular calls with my close ones. Second, I am exceptionally proud of all of my students in debate and public speaking. Seeing them get up in front of an audience to make their voices heard from an early age while they go through the fear of feeling shame and humiliation is a true superpower. Every student who has raised their voice in class is a hero in my eyes. My last and most important achievement is the realization that failure can be as good of an acquaintance as success is. Any rejection email or a failed meeting is as valuable as an acceptance letter or a new business opportunity.
Giving Back to the Homeland
After experiencing 2020, I realized that it is almost impossible to make precise plans for our futures. However, I will keep my fingers crossed and I hope that these upcoming years will be better for all of us.
My name is Dimitar Funa, and I am originally from Bitola. Although both of my parents are born in Bitola, I have a Vlach origin from the beautiful village of Malovishta.
I spent my early childhood and high school years in my hometown. Right after that, I went on to study Financial Management at the University Ss Cyril and Methodius in Skopje. Early on in my studies I understood that I needed a bigger challenge and decided to pursue an education abroad. One summer, I had the opportunity to attend Harvard University for a short course specializing in Family businesses. This allowed me to better understand what an international, professional, and academic community looks like. It also showed me how much I would love to be a part of such a community. Not long after that, I was accepted at Imperial College London to study for an MSc in Finance and Accounting. One thing that I am proud of is that I was chosen to be the Chair of the Student-Staff Committee and a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council within Imperial. To make a long story, short – I currently live in London and every day I get to meet, talk to and collaborate with some of the brightest people on the planet.
I guess most of the things in life are relative, and success is one of those things. I would not go on to talk about big or small achievements or accomplishments that I have had over the years, but I would like to focus on two things that, to me, represent the biggest successes I have had:
My failed start-up. During high school, my best friend and I had trouble finding reliable intercity transportation in Macedonia. Therefore, to solve our problem we created a web platform where drivers could advertise and ‘sell’ their empty seats, thereby reducing costs and more important greenhouse gas emissions (as more people would travel with one vehicle). Few years down the road, we figured that the company is unable to sustain itself and we called it quits. Although for some, this might not be the most inspiring success story, the lessons I learned about building a business, choosing your cofounders and partners, and about personal dedication, motivation, and a thousand other things, will stay with me for the rest of my life.
My family, friends, and acquaintances. I do understand how cliché it sounds, but I am very proud of the network of people I have managed to build around me. Thanks to the amazing high school I attended, I had the opportunity to go on two student exchanges in Switzerland and Israel. Those exchanges plus the experiences I had in the US as well as right now in the UK have allowed me to meet an amazing bunch of people, from scholars and volunteers to professionals in very different fields. However, none of this would be possible without the unconditional support of my immediate family and girlfriend.
To be extremely honest, this is the first time in my life that I do not have a detailed short, middle, and long-term plan, in my head. After all, covid19 did change the meaning of the long term, which for me, right now, is at 12 months. What I do know is that I am excited about the future. I am looking forward to entering the workforce as a young, and eager-to-learn professional, where I would like to use my knowledge and expertise to bring positive change especially in the field of equality and the environment. In addition, at this point, I would not disregard the possibility of further education several years along the line.
On the same note, I am extremely excited to be a small part of Macedonia2025 and give back as much as possible to my beloved country. Macedonia has vast amounts of resources, including highly ambitious and incredibly smart youth that unfortunately, our country has still not found a way to utilize for the common good. However, where someone sees a problem, I see an opportunity.
My name is Stefani Gjorcheska and I am 22 years old. I am originally from Veles, Macedonia. Thankfully, I chose to go to high school at the Yahya Kemal College, so my family moved to Skopje. While in high school, I competed in international scientific Olympiads.
My research experiences throughout high school enabled me to discover my passion for genetics and the medical research. Striving for better education, I chose Arizona State University as the best fit for my interests. I obtained my Bachelorette’s degree at ASU in genetics and Cell-Developmental Biology. During the first year in Arizona, I founded an undergraduate student organization in genetics. We, as a group, educated the students and many interested individuals about rare genetic disorders and recent discoveries in the field. During my sophomore year, I became a research assistant at the University of Arizona in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences. I spent the next 3 years there, researching in the field of immunology and inflammation. The hard work resulted in great knowledge and discoveries, two poster presentations as well as a potential publication. During my last two years, I was a community assistant at the university – one of the most challenging job an undergraduate student can have. Also, I was shadowing at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for more than a year and at the Zan Mitrev Clinic for a few weeks in Skopje. Moreover, I had internships at the Macedonian Academy of the Sciences and the Arts, at the Genetics lab under the University Children’s Hospital in Skopje and the Gynecology Department at the University Clinics. Starting in July this year, I will be starting my doctoral degree at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in developmental biology and embryology. My research will be focusing on the contributions of the mother’s immune system in the development of rare genetic disorders in the baby. In the bigger picture, I imagine myself as a licensed genetic counselor with a rich research background who will consult patients on rare pre-natal developmental/inherited conditions globally and of course, in Macedonia.
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
I believe that I have unique goals as a Macedonian individual and I would love to see a huge change in the field of embryology and developmental biology in my country. Therefore, I would like to perform some research in Macedonia and collaborate with the professionals on specific topics as well as consult patients. Macedonia 2025 is a great organization that will help me accomplish my goals and introduce me to other very outstanding Macedonians globally that could potentially contribute to my networking opportunities.
My name is Stojanche Gjorcheski, a recent graduate from Arizona State University – ASU, where I obtained my B.Sc. degree in Aeronautical Management Technology with major in Air Traffic Control.
I’m 22 years old and I originally come from Veles. We moved to Skopje approximately 7 years ago. For the last 4 years I’ve lived in Mesa, Arizona, United States – while I was also pursuing my studies there. Initially, I was accepted at a couple of universities, but my final decision was ASU because they offered the best Aviation program. Moreover, I am continuing my education in Toulouse, France. I will be attending Master of Science program for International Air Transportation Systems Engineering and Design at the French Civil Aviation University – ENAC. My ultimate goal is completing PhD and Post-Doctoral studies and also specializing in systems for airspace optimization. My career objective is to become one of the world’s leading experts in this area.
I finished High School at Yahya Kemal College – Skopje, in the spring of 2015. In the autumn of the same year, I started my journey towards obtaining my B.Sc. degree. At ASU, I became President and Founder of two university organizations in the field of Aeronautics. I was also working as a Resident Assistant at the University Housing Department for 3 years, where my role was including and building a residential community through programming, acting as a mentor for students, being a familiar first resource for students with academic or institutional questions, as well as enforcing residence policies. During my studies, I was also an intern for the Macedonian Air Navigation Service Provider, Mesa Airlines in Phoenix, Arizona and Skymantics in Melbourne, Florida.
While at ASU, I got the chance to be an Undergraduate Research Assistant for several research projects, such as the SpaceX Hyperloop Project at the Human Systems Engineering Department, where I worked on cognitive analysis for air transportation. The last two academic years I was working for the NASA – University Leadership Initiative (ULI) i.e. NASA Information fusion for real-time national air transportation system prognostics under uncertainty. My tasks included working on improving the flow of air traffic by using and testing new tools, models and techniques to support the US Next Generation of National Airspace System (NAS). So far, I have published one research paper, presented two research posters and attended a couple of conferences in this field. As previously mentioned, I will continue my studies in France for the next two years.
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
I started a start-up company in the Aeronautics field, which is located in Skopje, Macedonia. My mission is to contribute in the development of the aviation industry in my country, any way possible. Our plan is to develop a ground-braking systems in aviation (civil and military) that will meet the demand of tomorrow and will be strongly competitive on the international market. As a start-up company, we would like to create a Macedonian brand in the aviation industry – a brand which will be developed, tested and manufactured in our country to meet our needs. Of course, we would also like to see these products exported on international markets.
My name is Adil Mehmed and I am 22 years old. Until my 14th year of age, I lived in my hometown, Kochani. Then I signed a professional sports contract and moved to Skopje for the next four years, where I started and finished high school. My university choice led me to Manchester, the United Kingdom, to eventually find myself doing master’s studies in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Now I have three homes away from home.
My first home away from home is Skopje. I started practicing karate when I was just 4 years old. Ten years and 3 national championship titles later, I signed my professional contract with the Karate Club Metalurg from Skopje. In the following 4 years, I added 8 national championship titles, several medals from Balkan and Mediterranean Championships, a 5th place on a European Championship and award for the best karate athlete in the country in 2013 in cadet category. In the meantime, I never for a second jeopardized my education and this enabled me to receive multiple offers from prestigious universities for my undergraduate studies.
I accepted the offer to study Business Studies and Economics at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, which made the city of Manchester my second home away from home. While I was reading for my bachelor’s degree, I continuously put efforts into extracurricular activities both inside and outside the University. For example, I was a Student Representative for my cohort and a Student Ambassador of the School of Social Sciences but also a web-contributor for the National Youth Council of Macedonia. I also became a National Universities’ Karate Champion of Great Britain. Mixing both academic and extracurricular efforts and engagements led me to receive two distinguished awards upon my graduation this summer: The Faculty of Humanities Dean’s Award of Achievement – as a proof of my academic excellence – and the Stellify Award – The University of Manchester’s most prestigious extracurricular accolade.
My pursuit of excellence and challenging environments led me to the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. This September, I started my master’s studies in Strategy and International Management, a programme ranked no.1 in the world by the Financial Times for 9 consecutive years. However, I did not choose this programme only because of its reputation, but for the values that it nurtures, the purpose it follows, and the opportunity that is given to us to plan and implement a social project, among others. It only took me 2 months to feel the city of St. Gallen as my third home away from home.
As for my future plans, I couldn’t say much at this moment because the future is ever uncertain. However, I can see myself in a business development or a strategic management role. Eventually, I would like to start-up my own company.
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
Even though I haven’t had a full-time job until now, I have done several internships, one of which happened to be at Macedonia2025. When I started, I already knew the mission of the organisation, but during my time at the office, I learned about the methods the staff use to implement it. I also got insight into the economic and political situations in the country. This motivated me even more to work hard and continuously think about ways to aid the progress of the motherland. I am certain that Macedonia2025 plays a significant role in this process, and for this purpose, my relationship with the organisation remains intact.
My name is Kristina Nedelkova, I am 23 years old and currently live in New York City, where I am pursuing a Masters in International Finance and Economic Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Prior to Columbia, I attended the George Washington University in Washington D.C., from which I hold degrees in International Development and Economics. I was born in Tempe, Arizona, which is where I grew up and still to this day consider home. I was fortunate enough, however, to spend every summer of my childhood in Macedonia, an indisputable second home.
One of the most formative professional experiences that has played a significant role in shaping my current academic and further career aspirations is my work at the World Bank Group. My first role consisted of data collection for an agribusiness indicator focused on assessing laws and regulations in agriculture, identifying possible legal reforms countries can implement to remove obstacles and help farmers grow their businesses. I then transitioned to my current role at the International Finance Corporation, where I work in the Sector Economics and Development Impact department, analyzing and benchmarking the overall development impact of various investments in the agribusiness, manufacturing, microfinance, and other financial services industries. After completing my degree, I hope to continue working in the field of development, with a focus on how to leverage the private sector, particularly private investment, for development impact. Whether it is in a more analytical, data-driven capacity or one more rooted in policy and regulatory reform, I hope to pursue a career in which I can contribute to sustainable development initiatives in economies that need it most.
As part of my studies at the George Washington University, I participated in the Global Bachelor’s Program, taking my development studies abroad to Shanghai, China, and Santiago, Chile for a semester each. This comparative approach to understanding global development issues first-hand made me look beyond the textbook, understanding how policy translates to practice, and how the effects are manifested on the local level. These formal experiences coupled with my informal time in Macedonia have influenced my desire to dedicate my work to development impact and further exploring how sustainable investment can be used as a beneficial tool for driving economic growth and overall prosperity.
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
These yearly visits to Macedonia throughout my childhood – and especially those of recent years – have made me most aware and cognizant of not just the economic and political development constraints the country faces, but more importantly, I believe my studies and professional experience have equipped me with the proper technical skill-set to address them. Similar to my time in China and Chile, being able to see first-hand the policy, investment, and entrepreneurial challenges Macedonia faces gives me a unique perspective I will hopefully be able to leverage in my future professional capacities in a way that results in lasting, sustainable change.
Even more importantly, I hope my successes and achievements thus far can serve as an example for other young Macedonians, not just domestically, but around the world as well. I am aware and eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to pursue the academic and professional path of my choosing, but I am also aware of the risks and sacrifices that were made on my behalf in order for me be able to pursue these passions. I only hope that after my studies, with the skills and intellectual capabilities I have learned, I will be able to pay it forward so others can do the same.
My name is Stefan Petrevski and I am originally from Skopje, but I have spent the last five years studying in Canada and the UK. Initially, I was awarded a scholarship by the Macedonian UWC Committee to attend Pearson College on the west coast of Canada, one of the 18 United World Colleges (UWCs) across five continents. I remain committed to the missions of diversity and intercultural education by actively participating in selection camps and recruitment activities, thereby encouraging ambitious Macedonian students to represent our country at these institutions.
After graduating from high school, I enrolled at the University of Oxford in the UK, where I currently study mathematics. Despite this, I maximise the time during my long vacations to return to Macedonia to my family and friends.
Before studying in Canada, I was an active participant in mathematics competitions and earned several national and international prizes and medals. While at Pearson College UWC, I had the opportunity to explore activities I had always dreamed of. For instance, I joined the astronomy club and observed and photographed through the school’s massive 25” telescope in Canada’s former largest private observatory. Moreover, I led the organisation of a TEDx conference in 2017, which required recruiting international speakers and coordinating over 30 volunteers on conference day.
At university, more emphasis was placed on academic achievements. In my first two years at Oxford, I was awarded first-class honours and I am hoping to stay on this academic track until graduation. Within the mathematics department I am currently working on a supervised project on industrial fluid dynamics, whereby I am trying to synthesize existing mathematical models to better understand the stability of foams.
On the less curricular side, I am working on charitable consulting projects in my free time. Thus far, I have advised a small Nigerian start-up on an HR strategy and developed an expansion model for an Economist-featured legal charity in Kenya. This summer, I was a global markets analyst for Hong Kong’s largest international bank. This was an incredible learning opportunity, as the role required understanding the politics and economics of countries such as Thailand, South Korea and India. I have greatly enjoyed quantitative and analytic roles such as these, which build upon my mathematical approach, but also require understanding of “intangibles” – I hope that my future profession will also revolve around such an approach.
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
My experiences with studying and working abroad have never been an attempt to escape Macedonia, but rather to accumulate as much knowledge of the world as possible. To this aim, I have met classmates and peers from over 80 different countries and each time I strike up a conversation to learn more about their local culture, traditions, and politics. No country does anything perfectly and no cultural interpretation is strictly correct, but only by exchanging ideas with people who have experienced different systems can we be constructive and critical with ours.
It is hard to predict the exact role I would play when contributing back to Macedonia. Up until this point, I have mostly focused my efforts within education and I would certainly wish to participate in a reformation of the Macedonian educational system. The talent and drive amongst the youth here is immense, but multi-ethnic integration and practical learning could certainly improve. On the other hand, I might adopt a much less political role and give back as an experienced professional within a different industry. Either way, my aim is to contribute to the community in particular by targeting the ambitious youth.
Born in Skopje, Macedonia in 1991, my family emigrated to Mississauga, Ontario, Canada in 2003. I have always found pride that I was exposed to two very different cultures early on in my life and truly believe that’s a big factor in my drive to succeed. Having lots of family and friends in Macedonia, I frequently travel back with my fiancé and I continue to develop relationships with incredible people there.
I joined the real estate industry in 2018 and in a short time developed the performance and track record of a top producing real estate agent. Early on I decided to specialize in residential real estate with a focus on new developments and pre-construction sales.
Along with my father Milosov Lukaroski, in 2018 we co-founded Orion Platinum Realty, Brokerage in Mississauga, ON. The brokerage has since become a recognizable name in the new development and pre-construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area.
Orion Realty Corporation awarded me with the 2018 Rookie of the Year and the 2019 President’s Award. In the new development sector, I was awarded with the In2ition Realty Top 20 Platinum Performer for both 2018 and 2019. Further, I was also named Chestnut Hill Developments Top Producer for Universal City Condominiums.
I see tremendous room for growth in the industry. Currently, we are working on expanding our team and optimizing workflow with individuals and companies both in Canada and Macedonia. Although right now our complete focus is on the selling side, I can definitely see myself getting into the development side in the future.
My name is Tea Pesheva, I am 27 years old and I’m a Provincial Liaison Officer at the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in Canada. I originally come from Skopje, Macedonia, where most of my family is based. As a child growing up in Macedonia, I was always lucky to be involved in the international community through attending international schools. For over 13 years I was part of the QSI Skopje (Quality Schools International) family, and it was my first home away from home. In many ways, I was always planning to leave and pursue higher education abroad, but I never truly knew where the path would take me. Right after high school, I decided to pursue my undergraduate studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland where I began my real journey into studying the environmental sciences, by doing a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Development. Following those four wonderful years, I then decided to pack up my bags and move even farther to Toronto, Canada to do a Master of Science in Sustainability Management at the University of Toronto. My one goal in mind, the whole time, was to learn the most efficient way to implement water management and help our Macedonian watersheds. Following my educational experiences, I started my professional career in the Ontario Provincial Government through roles in various Ministries.
Some of the best memories over the years have been the inspiring people I have met along the way. I admire people’s stories and the lessons they learned and shared. I always try to ask as many questions as I can, because there is always something I can learn or use to support my own growth. Through the years I have always tried to understand what success actually means. It’s such a diverse and unique topic for most people. To some, it will be one’s status and to others a salary number. For me, success means the ability to be adaptive and continue developing myself within my work as well in my personal life. I started as a student, I then went to do an internship at the Ontario Ministry of Environment and then became a Senior Policy Analyst. What does this mean? It means I kept dreaming and continued to work on improving myself. My advice is always: Your success comes from knowing where you envision yourself, and then working to get there! (Taking creative breaks though really helps!)
Macedonia2025/ Giving Back to the Homeland
I am always proud to declare that I come from Macedonia. For one reason it makes me somewhat unique in many circles, but in other instances, it also gives me a different perspective. Not everyone gets the opportunity to put a new perspective on a situation, and often I bring that to the table. While I don’t always feel like I am as connected to my home country or hometown anymore, I know I will always admire where I came from and speak of it to the people I meet. In the long-run, I hope to bring some of that back to my country and help make positive changes, but alas we shall see where life leads me. For now, I make sure to send back my love to my family (parents especially) and share my insight into what I’ve learned “abroad.”
Hi! My name is Yavuz Selim Topbas, but you can call me Yavuz for short! I’m an 18-year old Canadian citizen of joint Turkish, Macedonian, and Albanian descent! My maternal grandparents immigrated to the Republic of Turkey from the People’s Republic of Macedonia (part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia at the time) in the mid 20th century. My grandmother is of Albanian descent, and she was born in the village of Nerezi near Skopje. My grandfather was born in Držilovo, in the municipality of Sopište. My grandparents got married in İzmir, where my mother was also born. As for my father, he is a Turk hailing from region of Eskişehir! After meeting and getting married, my parents immigrated to Canada where my story started!
I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, where I spent most of my childhood. I currently go to Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, where I’m in the second year of my pursuit of a Bachelor of Public Affairs & Policy Management degree, with a concentration in International Policy Studies and a specialization in International Relations & Conflict. As of this moment, I’m working at Shared Services Canada as a student analyst in the Cabinet & Parliamentary Affairs unit. However, I also have experience in the academic and financial industries! Alongside my job in the government this past summer, I also worked at Carleton University to help develop two courses: one, on Israeli-Palestinian relations, and; the second, on the relationship between Netflix-hosted entertainment media and socio-politics in the United States of America and Canada. On top of that, this summer I also helped develop an ‘Islamic Finance 101’ course for one of Canada’s top investment firms, CI Financial Corp. (I was working in Assante Wealth Management). Phew!
I usually like to focus on experiences, so I’ll start with that first and head over to achievements later. I grew up in rather underrepresented areas in Ontario which led me to experience infrastructural and societal problems first-hand. Some examples include physical ones; the fact that our playgrounds and schools were falling apart (one of our schools finally got demolished and rebuilt, thankfully), but some were more emotional, like the fact that many kids I grew up with did not have families, or did not have money to afford seemingly trivial things like milk. I saw my parents struggle with the insecure job market, and with the fact that they did not know the language of the land (this reminds me of my maternal grandparents when they arrived in the Republic of Turkey). Regardless though, as a child, I was very bubbly, always smiling, and was extremely energetic (I still always smile, or at least I try to!). However, I was very stubborn; I always wanted my way! But back to experiences… I think of the ones I’ve had growing up – some I talk about and some I don’t like to think about – as things that make me who I am. And those experiences slowly led to the finding of passions, and later onto the achievement of, well… achievements.
Before 2018, when I was in the first half of my high school, I was involved in a lot of student council activities and helped in intercultural dialogue events, as well as relief programs (e.g., I led student projects to send aid to people suffering from a drought in Somalia, an earthquake in Haiti, as well as local things like collecting non-perishables for a local women’s shelter). I was always a straight-to-the-point, outspoken, confident young person and this helped me excel in student leadership. However, I wanted to represent on a bigger scale in some way, as I felt like I could help shine light on the voices of underrepresented peoples. In 2018, when I was in my second-last year of high school, I started studying at Emery Collegiate Institute, which was an underrepresented school itself. At the school, one of the teachers gave me a ticket to a board organized student leadership conference. At the conference, I met a guy exact my age, who turned out to be one of the two elected student trustees of the Toronto District School Board. Wow, this guy was really representing 250,000 students in Canada’s largest school Board; North America’s 3rd largest. He was… representing! I talked to him and was immediately inspired by the things he told me about. I feel like that conversation could have gone two ways. One where I would have gotten jealous of the fact that this guy was a leader like me, except at a much larger level, or one where I could look up to him as a peer-mentor and allow myself to be inspired. I chose the latter.
After that encounter, I made it a mission to represent, in the largest sense possible. I said to myself, if this champ can do it, I can too. I ran for office a couple months after and was successfully elected as the President of the Student Senate, the board-level student government in the Toronto District School Board. Now, just like him (now my colleague), I was representing thousands of students, and it just felt right. I tried to advocate for the inclusion of underrepresented neighbourhoods in policy development, and my presidency saw the Board switch to online voting (more equitable) as well as changes in the Board-wide dress code that reduced stereotyping of racialized groups. At the same time, I was actively involved in politics, and worked on various political campaigns (I later was a founding member in my riding’s federal youth council). At school, I also became President of our school’s Business Club, and actually got TD Bank, yes, TD Bank, to sponsor us with thousands of dollars for the creation of a financial literacy conference for young leaders in our otherwise fiscally underrepresented school. That event still resonates in our school community.
On top of all of the things listed, I co-led our high school’s March for Education rally, which got the attention of our city’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Beside that, I founded and led my own non-profit with my friends (currently indefinitely suspended due to our executive’s commitments to school), PowerInYouth, which focused on the creation of networking events for underrepresented young people. There was an infrastructural problem that our organization found a fix to through discussion: many networking events (even ones for youth) were inaccessible to students in high-priority neighborhoods because they were just too far (Toronto is big!). This would create long-term career blocks as students couldn’t meet potentially-life-changing mentors (shoutout to my mentors). So, we decided to bring networking events home. We held an event at a local library and managed to bring many leaders, including many elected leaders in the area. At the end of the day, one of the attendants came up to me, said, “I love you, man” and told me that I inspired him. I felt happy, because I knew how much one inspirational encounter did to me.
Anyway, I wrapped up high school in 2019, getting into a program focused on policy development and government administration (I wanted to help shape policy so I could fix systematic problems). At the end of high school, I was thankful to be recognized for a lot of the student leadership I had done, even though it really was about representing the community, not myself. Notably, I was awarded the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Citizenship Award and Scholarship, Carleton University’s President’s Scholarship, and was a Schulich Leader Nominee. Furthermore, I was awarded Merit Award’s top “Leader of Tomorrow” scholarship for exceptional community leadership. Among other things, my MPP also recognized me with a Youth Leadership award.
The summer between high school and university, I did a government-sponsored exchange program and worked as a camp counsellor at a summer camp for children with autism, in Laval, Quebec. It was a good experience where I was able to learn French in the span of one summer with the help of my colleagues and community. I also learned that I might have a love for teaching!
Fast forward a little bit! When I started university, I got hired right off the bat by a certain Director of Cabinet & Parliamentary Affairs at Shared Services Canada (who I met at a networking event— see, networking events really help with your career!). I also was involved with our Carleton International Relations Society, and went to the Republic of Guatemala on behalf of Carleton University to teach English to Guatemalan kids in a school for low-income students. I managed to make the Dean’s List as well, and was listed on the Top 15% for my program by academic average. Once the academic year ended, I also launched my own company, PoliDolls, which focuses on the creation of plush dolls based around contemporary politicians (think Justin Trudeau!).
A lot of these things were both experiences, and achievements. I learned a lot from all of these equally-unique projects, and I’m now standing here even more hungry to give back and develop myself as well. I’ve used “I” a lot here, but it was really my community that helped me do all this. Hundreds, if not thousands of people are part of these unique experiences, and I appreciate each and every one of them that I have had the pleasure of working with through my involvements.
I hope to see myself in management roles in government in the future. I want to be able to lead through policy, whether it be at the development phase or the execution phase. I am particularly interested in transportation, regulation, social development, international relations, and diplomacy, and I hope to do more work in the field this upcoming year. On the topic of transportation, I currently have a spot on Metrolinx’s Combined Construction Liaison Committee (CLC) for the Finch West LRT project (which runs through my community), where I’m helping Metrolinx perfect its delivery of its ongoing transportation project. I’m also a Provincial Riding Representative for the Ontario Provincial Youth Council, where I hope to help in the drafting of effective policy papers on the topic of transportation, social development, and policing/justice reform. I’m also currently the President of the Carleton University Turkish Students Association (CUTSA), so I hope to lead the club through these unprecedented times. Oh, and my business! PoliDolls recently got multiple investments so I hope to continue to work on it so that it can grow.
Regardless of whether my life takes me, I just want to continue to have a smile and do good for those around me. Because I wholeheartedly believe that it does take a village, and that true happiness comes from seeing the people you love great things. As they say, stronger together. Oh, and I hope to visit Macedonia one day, and contribute to the communities there as well, while also exploring that side of my identity. Vi blagodaram!