Zana Milak '12 reflects on 'The university of my dreams’
Zana Milak was only 3 when the war in Bosnia forced her family to flee their homeland. As Muslims, the Milaks had become targets in the bloody conflict that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
“One night a group of men took all the Muslim men in my neighborhood to a concentration camp,” Zana says. “What really hurt was the men who pointed out all the Muslim houses and took my dad, my grandfather and my uncle were our neighbors. They used to be our friends.”
Fast-forward to 2012. Zana, now 22, is looking forward to graduating in May with her father, Melik, mother, Asja, and brother, Amir, looking on. She credits the Susan Scholarship with making her Elon education—and a bright future—possible.
“Without the Susan Scholarship, I could not have attended Elon,” Zana says. “I was so happy when I received it because I knew I could attend the university of my dreams.”
Furman C. Moseley Jr. ’56 endowed the Susan Scholarship in 2007 with a generous gift to honor his wife, Susan Reed Moseley, and support women of promise. Zana is grateful to the Moseleys for their generosity. She gives back to the university by serving as a mentor with the Elon Academy, the university’s college-access program for high school students with high financial need or no family history of attending college. In Elon’s Multicultural Center, she helps coordinate the Watson and Odyssey programs, which include some of the university’s largest need-based scholarships, including the Susan and Georgeo Scholarships. These experiences have inspired Zana to pursue a master’s degree in higher education administration.
“I can see myself in each and every one of those students because I was in their shoes coming to Elon,” Zana says. “They helped me decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’d like to work at a university helping multicultural students with financial need. They need to know they are not alone.”
Eleven years have passed since Zana and her family settled as refugees in Burlington, a few miles from Elon’s campus. Gone is the scared girl who spoke no English on her first day of elementary school and feared for her future.
“I never thought I would be where I am now,” Zana says. “I can actually say I’m successful. I’m ready for my next challenge and I know with the help of Elon I can meet that challenge. I know it’s just the beginning.”