“America is where I’m from. I’m an American citizen, my parents and sister are American citizens — yes, I still love Bosnia, but I have assimilated, not separated, and I identify as an American.”
Major: Master's of Science in Biology
Hometown: Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, raised in Smyrna, Tennessee
By definition, Austin Peay State University biology graduate student Nerina Jusufovic is a refugee; a victim of the war that raged in her home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, forcing her family to seek a fresh start in the United States.
She was just four years old. But in reality, Jusufovic is an American; a child who learned English by watching “Sesame Street,” a teenager who rooted for Team USA during the Olympics and World Cup and an adult who recently completed her master’s degree in biology from Austin Peay.
During her graduate career, Jusufovic studied under Austin Peay biology professor Dr. Chad Brooks, exploring how Lyme disease functions in dogs and pursing new vaccine possibilities for canines.
Before completing her graduate degree, Jusufovic presented her findings at the 127th Meeting of the Tennessee Academy of Sciences, earning second place at the meeting’s student poster competition.
A 4.0 student, Jusufovic was selected to carry the gonfalon for the Colleges of Graduate Studies during Austin Peay’s 2017 Winter Commencement exercises. After graduation, Jusufovic said she intends to continue her education with the goal to one day earn her PhD in infectious diseases.
“We’re not a huge research institution, but I’ve been able to do quite a few things here that people who don’t know about Austin Peay would be surprised I was able to do,” Jusufovic said. “Austin Peay has been wonderful to me; they’ve provided me with everything I needed and I think, academically speaking, I’ve been able to learn everything I could need to learn by choosing to come here.”
In every way imaginable, Jusufovic’s “normal” American story was the ideal outcome after her family fled their troubled home in pursuit of the American dream. “My family was one of the few that were allowed to come here after all of the genocide and ethnic cleansing that was taking place in Bosnia,” Jusufovic said. “By the time we left in 1996, things were starting to improve, but my parents — especially my mother — knew that there would be a better opportunity for us if we came to America.
“Now as an adult, I think of it this way: America is where I’m from. I’m an American citizen, my parents and sister are American citizens — yes, I still love Bosnia, but I have assimilated, not separated, and I identify as an American.”