Marija Karic finds a home, and a purpose, at Tri-C
December 06, 2016
When Marija Karic first met Cuyahoga Community College professor Mary Hovanec, she didn’t really know what she wanted to do.
The Broadview Heights resident and mother of three just knew that she wanted to get a degree and a different job in order to make money and raise her family -- and she knew the way to do that was to go back to school.
Hovanec helped Karic identify her educational goals. Hovanec challenged her, inspiring her to think about herself in new ways and opening her eyes to the possibility of new career opportunities. Karic will graduate from Tri-C this month with an associate of arts degree with an emphasis in business, but she has set higher goals for herself.
A Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy student, Karic wants to make an impact in the world of local politics, driven by a desire to give back to her adopted hometown. She left her native country of Serbia at the age of five, so in a very real sense, Cleveland is the only home she’s ever known.
“I just want to give the same thing that has been given to me. I want to give back,” Karic said.
Tri-C has opened many doors for Karic in the two short years she has been a student. Karic has traveled to Washington D.C. twice, participated in an internship with the RNC this summer, and collected and delivered Christmas gifts to homeless families.
In short, her experiences at Tri-C helped expand her world.
“Before I came to Tri-C, I never went anywhere,” she said.” I lived in a bubble. I never traveled because I didn’t know where to go. I had a zone of comfort and never left it. I read, but physically I felt like I never escaped out of that bubble I lived in.”
In addition to her newfound experience, Karic credits a list of “tough” professors who continually challenged her to improve: In addition to Hovanec, Karic credits Mary Hurst (English), Deborah Massari (math), Jolanta Chura (Russian) and Student Life Director Mark Rodriguez to the list of those who have made an impact upon her.
Karic has learned much about herself in these past two years. “I never thought of myself as college material,” she said. “With my background – being an immigrant and a woman – it’s my driving focus on helping those like me. My ultimate goal is to start a scholarship fund for Eastern European students who excel academically and are involved in promoting their culture.
“I don’t ever see education stopping for me. I’ll go as far as I am able to go.”