In Nejra Mujkanović, a BME graduate student in the Ghandehari-Pulsipher lab, is developing controlled drug delivery strategies to address chronic rhinosinusitis. Her journey to pursue her advanced degree in our BME program is remarkable testament to ambition, persistence and hopeful, optimistic Aspirations. Nejra’s amazing story is here:

Amid my early childhood, a transformative journey unfolded, igniting a commitment to advocate for human rights and global policy making. This awakening began innocently enough with a literature assignment that turned into a profound interview with my mother, lasting over two hours, delving into my family’s experiences during the Bosnian war.

Born in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, my roots were intricately woven in the small village of Karadagliie, in a home built by my grandfather. Despite entering this world after the fall of Yugoslavia, my life took a turn as I became a refugee from the instability that gripped Bosnia thereafter. The opportunity to flourish in my home country was stolen from me and many Balkans who share similar stories.

Seeking renewal, my family ventured internationally. Our attempt to settle in Texas faced setbacks, including the disappearance of a religious organization meant to shelter us. However, our resilience, inherited from our past hardships, led us to the Bay Area. My father, a frontline
soldier, and my resourceful mother, who navigated landmine-infested backroads, exemplified
resilience. Working multiple jobs, my family made ends meet, instilling in me a sense of
discipline and commitment to education. This early journey marked the beginning of my quest to
overcome challenges independently. Immersing myself to pave my way to higher education
established a profound belief in the transformative power of resilience and determination.

I will not deceive you and lead you to believe I faced severe oppression in my upbringing. Fortune gazed upon us when we took shelter in the United States. My family shielded me from adversity yet educated me on conflicts worldwide. My background fuels my perpetual quest for knowledge about global conflicts, urging me to amplify the voices of silenced individuals. Reflecting on my journey, it is disheartening to admit it took 18 years for me to fully educate myself on the tragedy of Srebrenica and Bosnia as a whole. My mother had explained the vivid details of bombs igniting, my father’s mortifying war experiences, care packages falling from the sky, and horrendous events no human should experience. My mother’s interview emotionally impacted me, prompting a commitment to advocate for those whose stories have been hidden in the shadow of their oppressor(s).

My purpose in sharing this spotlight is not to emphasize my personal narrative but to
create a platform for the untold stories of millions. Stories of displacement, resilience, and
survival against their oppressor(s). Today, we stand on the shoulders of those who dared to
speak. Allow me to enlighten you on a pivotal moment in Bosnian history—the intervention of
the United States in Bosnia. Christiane Amanpour, a beacon of journalistic integrity, confronted
former President Bill Clinton on live television, exposing his failure to maintain global policy
and peace in Yugoslavia. This courageous act, broadcasting to the world from Bosnia’s capital,
not only revived Bosnia but educated powerful nations and citizens to provide aid. Aid arrived in
1995, bringing the most sustained peace Bosnia had experienced since entering as an
independent country in 1992. Amanpour’s courage paved the way for change, emphasizing one
voice’s impact in battling oppressive behavior.

In our era of heightened connectivity, misinformation spreads and is interpreted nearly as
factual. I implore you to delve into unbiased research and expand your knowledge of our world.
By understanding, we dismantle ignorance, bringing conflicts closer to resolution and fostering
justice and peace. Each informed voice contributes to a chorus of millions, paving a path to
equity. I encourage you to embrace your power in using your voice to advocate factually. We are more robust and have substantially heightened our educational privilege. Let your voice be the catalyst for change, weaving a narrative of justice and compassion that resonates across borders.