Ajla Grozdanic

Ajla Grozdanic

Goodwill Ambassador Relations Manager


United Nations Development Programme

New York, NY USA


The thing I’ve learned [as a refugee] is that people are the same...we all come from different parts of the world, but we all go through the same feelings, we all want the same things for our children, we all want the same things for ourselves, and we all want peace in the world.

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
She was born and raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia—was 12 years old when the Bosnian War broke out.
While staying with her grandparents in another town, the border to her country was shut down and she ended up getting separated from her parents for two years without any contact.
Eventually, her family was forced to flee the country and they were brought as refugees to Germany with the help of the United Nations.
For three years, they lived in Germany in cramped wooden barracks alongside a dozen other families—says she looks back on this time with positivity because her family was safe and together.
Attended a refugee school that was designed to teach her a trade, but not prepare her for college—she successfully petitioned her teachers and was sent to another school so she could go to college.
Her family was among the first Bosnian refugees to be resettled in the U.S.—says her experiences fleeing Bosnia as a child inspired her to either become a journalist or work for the United Nations.
After getting her master’s degree, she freelanced as a journalist for a while, but decided to switch course and started working in communications for a refugee resettlement organization.
She now works for the United Nations Development Programme mobilizing celebrities to advocate for social and environmental causes—says she still can’t believe she achieved her childhood dream.
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
International Relations and Affairs
Miami University-Oxford
undergrad
Bachelor
German Language and Literature
Miami University-Oxford
undergrad
Bachelor
Spanish Language and Literature
Miami University-Oxford
graduate
Graduate
Journalism
New York University
Career

Career

Goodwill Ambassador Relations Manager

I work with celebrities to get them involved as advocates for social and environmental causes.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Journalism
Journalism
Non-Profit Organizations
Non-Profit Organizations
Accomplishing Goals
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

I combine my skills in story telling and journalism with my passion for service to leverage the social influence of celebrities to bring awareness to causes and effect more change. My job involves a lot of research and recruiting efforts. I also develop new strategies to get our ambassadors more invested in the causes they represent. I serve as the main point of contact between celebrities, our organization, and various partners.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Good communication skills are essential! You should also be willing to constantly innovate and work on developing new and better ways of doing things. Be adaptable!!

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

Work with guidance counselors/mentors and educate yourself on the different scholarship opportunities that are available to you. There are more than you think!

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
International Relations and Affairs
undergrad
Bachelor
German Language and Literature
undergrad
Bachelor
Spanish Language and Literature
graduate
Graduate
Journalism
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"Because you have an accent, people are going to think you are dumb, so you will have to try harder than everyone else. "

This pushed me to rise above my "otherness" and not be defined by my accent. This is who I am and I made a point to make that an asset.

Challenges I Overcame

First-Generation Immigrant
First-Generation Immigrant

My family was forced to leave Bosnia during the war and we spent several years living as refugees in Germany until we immigrated to the U.S. I barely spoke the language and the culture was so different from what I was used to.

Gangs / Violence
Gangs / Violence

I experienced the Bosnian War first hand. Was separated from my parents for two years and lived for a long time as a refugee.