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Scarred by War, Driven to Make a Difference

Born against the backdrop of war, Bosnian immigrant Katarina Vickovic is driven to take advantage of her second chance, and to help others avoid the heartache she and her family suffered.

The Caledonia senior was a baby when her parents fled Bosnia to immigrate to the U.S. Growing up, she’s listened to their stories of heartache. That’s had a profound effect on her. Katarina decided not to squander the opportunities America makes possible. She wants to help others find justice in their lives when they’ve been wronged.

She’s a mentor to Duncan Middle School girls through the A More Beautiful You Big Sister Program because they need a role model who can help them veer away from the hurts she experienced when she was their age.

She’s participated in mock trial competitions and in SHOCK (Students Helping Others Through Kindness), an anti drug and alcohol initiative.

And her career choice is to one day work as a prosecuting attorney and put lawbreakers behind bars.

It’s no coincidence her go-to TV shows are “Criminal Minds” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

Bosnia’s Profound Effect

Much of Katarina’s drive to see justice prevail in the world is because her homeland is Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country in Southeastern Europe that endured a bloody war between 1992-95 due to the breakup of Yugoslavia.

“It’s an emotional thing to live in that country,” said Katarina, 17, who is known to her friends as “Kat.”

“Bosnia now is at peace but there are still riots and tension. It’s a beautiful country but people are still living with this tension.”

“My parents decided to give me the opportunity to live here,” said Katarina, who maintains a 4.153 grade point average. “It’s why I’m so driven because they didn’t have this opportunity.”

Katarina attributes her stairway to success to hard workDriven in Many Ways

“Driven” takes many forms with Katarina. The National Honor Society member has known since she was 9 years old she wanted to study criminal law and become a prosecutor.

“It’s always kept my attention,” she said. “It challenges me. It’s fascinating to try to understand the reasons for the things criminals do.”

She’s uses the study of languages to expand her cultural and vocabulary horizons, including Spanish, American Sign Language and Bosnian.

“My ethnicity is important to me to know who I am,” Katarina said. She has returned to Bosnia when she was 4 and 9 and wants go again after she graduates from High School.

Laser Beam Focus

Last summer Katarina toured the University of Michigan law library and fell in love.

“I don’t see myself doing anything else but being a prosecutor,” she said. “I need to challenge myself intellectually so I can focus on other people and help those who can’t help themselves.”

Katarina’s challenges herself at High School by enrolling in Advance Placement classes in U.S. history, government, literature, psychology and calculus.

“What it comes down for me is I love everything I do,” she said. “I want to touch lives. Selling out is never an option.”


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