Bosnian Refugee Completes ‘American Journey’ By Graduating From The University Of Mary Washington

By Lindley Estes
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Today Melisa Pilipovic receives her bachelor of science degree in business administration and accounting at UMW. It’s a milestone for Pilipovic who first arrived in the United States as a refugee from war-torn Bosnia when she was just 2 years old.

The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.

Melisa Pilipovic has always been good with money.

She opened her first savings account at Waynesboro’s First Bank & Trust Co. before kindergarten at the behest of her mother, who wanted her to understand how far money can go.

And she taught herself Quickbooks at age 13, as her entrepreneur parents also were learning the accounting software.

The Pilipovic family had to be good with their accounts. As refugees from war-torn Bosnia, Melisa and her parents, Zejna and Suljo Pilipovic, settled in Virginia after fleeing the country in 1997. She was 2 years old at the time and her parents had to figure out how to make a living in a country they’d never visited before.

On Saturday, she’ll receive her bachelor of science degree in business administration and accounting, one of 1,035 undergrads and 155 graduate students to cross the commencement stage this weekend.

It’s a milestone she sees as symbolically completing her parent’s journey to create a bright future for her in the U.S.

“I’m so grateful,” she said about her time at UMW. “It’s been a really amazing experience for me, but it’s also been really fulfilling for my parents. They came here, leaving everything they knew behind. And the life they wanted for me: It’s happening.”

Pilipovic was born in Velika Kladusa, a town in the far northwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, near Croatia.

In 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence with several other republics that were formerly part of Yugoslavia. That move triggered a four-year civil war. And while estimates of casualties vary, at least 100,000 lives were lost in the war.

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