“Because of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Some of my best memories are from the programs that I only attended because the Foundation made it possible. The people that I met attending Foundation events are simply incredible.”
College Scholarship Recipient
Education / Academia, Government, Languages, Librarian / Information Science, Mathematics, Psychology / Therapy, Religion, Social Science / Anthropology, Writing / Journalism
Classics, Foreign Languages / International Study, Government, Honor Society, Languages, Leadership Development, Mathematics, Mock Trial, Model UN, Performing Arts / Theatre, Philosophy, Sports, Tutoring / Mentoring, Volunteer Work
Highlights of Young Scholar Experience: Simply put, Milica Mihajlovic said that being a part of the Young Scholars program “has been the most influential experience of my life.” The summer programs and other opportunities afforded her because of her scholar status “have helped me define myself as a person.” Each of her summer program visits impacted Milica’s thinking about her future goals – whether it was the pre-law program at Northwestern University, a Russian language camp in Minnesota, or a session at Cornell University studying the history of medicine – all combined to help Milica come to some early decisions about the direction her life should or shouldn’t take.
Profile: Milica, an honor student at Downers Grove South High School near Chicago, came to the U.S. at age four from her native Serbia. She loves to dance, read, solve puzzles, sew, and she has a gift for tutoring fellow students She’s had her share of heartache along the way though. At about the same time she was selected as a Young Scholar, her father passed away. Although she has very few memories of living in Serbia she’s done her best to understand and retain the culture of the country of her birth and where most of her relatives still live. She participates in a Serbian folk dance group and speaks Serbian at home. In high school Milica finished her four years with a grade point average just a percentage point shy of 4.0 perfection and has aced Russian language classes at a nearby junior college.
Inspiration: Besides her Educational Adviser at the Foundation, the mentor that has really made an impact on Milica’s life is her high school German teacher, Sarah Moreno. Milica was a teacher's aide for Ms. Moreno during her sophomore and junior years. “She gave me so much responsibility that I felt like more than a student aide,” Milica said. “Not only was I given normal responsibilities, such as grading papers, she also let me handle the running of the German Club. It is largely due to Frau Moreno that I am as confident as I am in my leadership skills.”
Aspiration: Her career goals are wide open, and that is, in part, thanks to the many Foundation-sponsored summer programs Milica participated in. The programs in many cases helped Milica decide what career fields she would not want to attempt. She realized at age 17 she does not have to pressure herself on the future. “If I want to be a lawyer I don't have to go into pre-law as an undergraduate. It would be more helpful, no doubt, but it doesn't prevent me from majoring in anthropology. I'm not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I take comfort in knowing that I still have time to figure it out.”
Making a Difference: In addition to tutoring fellow students who are having a tough time with German and Mathematics, Milica honors her late father’s memory by donating many hours to a fundraiser for the American Heart Association which is organized by her brother.
Accolades: A member of the National Honor Society and a regular on the Downers Grove Honor Roll, she was also elected president of her high school’s German Club. In 2010 Milica was a national finalist in a competition sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German. The summer leading into her senior year of high school she received word of two significant honors - she was named an AP Scholar by the College Board and received the State of Illinois Prairie State Achievement Award. And during her last year of high school the Illinois Student Assistance Commission named her a State Scholar.
Interesting Fact: Milica’s fairly sure this did not help her college acceptance, but she said she’s double-jointed in her fingers and she can also do a lot of “small unusual things, such as flare my nose, cross my eyes, cross only one eye, and dililate/constrict my pupils on command.”
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