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Student Story

Nermina Markisic, Political Science Major, Winter 2020 Valedictorian

Nermina Markisic has always set the bar high for herself, and this January the Political Science major will achieve yet another personal milestone: she will accept her SFC degree as the College's Winter 2020 Valedictorian.

With plans to pursue a graduate degree next year – potentially in law -- Nermina is currently working as a part-time paralegal in French & Casey LLP. She will transition to a full-time employee after graduation.

Nermina's parents arrived in the United States in 1995 as refugees of the Bosnian war. They made a home for her, her sister and brother in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where Nermina still lives. She attended Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School.

A first-generation college graduate, Nermina was the president of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, and a member of the Political Science honor society and the St. Thomas More Pre-Law Society. She completed her college degree in three and one-half years, making her eligible for Winter Commencement on January 21, 2020. Nermina will join the ceremony's keynote speaker, Dr. Marina Gair, SFC Professor of Education, in addressing the attendees.

Nermina recently reflected on her time at SFC and what being selected Valedictorian means to her.

How did you decide to attend St. Francis?

I didn't know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I had great grades, but I was kind of shooting in the dark and applying everywhere.

St. Francis happened to have a rolling admissions process and I thought, "my sister applied here. She really wanted to go, but she didn't." I liked the campus. I came to visit with my high school and I got in. I got a great scholarship, a very generous scholarship [The Dr. Scholl Foundation Scholarship] and I said, "I can see myself here. This is the place for me."

What specifically makes St. Francis special?

It's a little odd, but I want to say the level of comfort that this building brings. I've visited other colleges, but when I came here, I walked through the building and I thought, this feels right. It feels comfortable. It feels friendly. It feels warm. It really feels like a community. We have people coming from all over the world, for academics, for sports. It just felt like a place where I could fit right in, even though we're all different.

What professors had an impact on your academic life here?

Actually both of the political science advisors here. Isa Camyar and Frank Sorrentino who retired about a semester ago, both had a huge impact on me. They have supported me the entire three-and-a-half years that I have been here. Although Dr. Sorrentino has retired, he still continues to support me. He wrote me a recommendation letter for law school. Isa Camyar has been with me every step of the way, making every accommodation he can to try to make this a less stressful, more pleasant experience. I'm extremely grateful for his presence.

What drew you to political science?

I actually came to St. Francis College with International Business [as my intended major], and I ended up switching majors to political science and realizing, "wow, this makes a lot of sense." Like they say, if you love what you're doing, you don't work a day in your life. And I think that's exactly how I feel about political science. I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I've taken.

Is there something you've done at SFC that stands out as particularly memorable?

In the first honors course I took, [I participated in preparing] an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society [on baseball legend Jackie Robinson]. Five of us students made the pamphlet for the exhibit, we helped people tour and we introduced them to the exhibit.

Jackie Robinson's grandson attended. It was wonderful.

You're the SFC Winter 2020 valedictorian. How do you feel about that?

I'm proud, grateful. I think I worked hard for it. I wasn't anticipating it, but I was really, really pushing for it. I thought, "if I work hard enough, I will get this." In middle school I was a salutatorian and my father said, "oh, you were so close." Then in high school I was [ranked] number 15, and my dad said, "so close." And then, finally, in college I made valedictorian and I got to tell my dad, "you know dad, I did it." It was really a moment of pride for my family and myself.