When Nermina Markisic ’23 visited her family this summer in Novi Pazar, Serbia, she sat for an interview in Bosnian with local media station RTV Novi Pazar.
“I always say it’s better in New York, but it’s more beautiful here. There’s nothing like Europe, like the Balkans,” she told reporter Katarini Radovic.
Markisic’s story is one that may be familiar to many New York Law School students — many of whom are first generation Americans, immigrants, or the first in their families to attend law school.
Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Markisic’s family fled during the siege of Sarajevo and landed in New York City, where she was born. As Radovic reports, Markisic “always knew what she would be when she grew up: determined and disciplined in the face of all the things that came her way.” Markisic is the first in her family to receive a J.D.—and at NYLS’s Lincoln Center Commencement this year, Markisic delivered a speech on behalf of the Class of 2023. (It was an encore address — Markisic also delivered the student speech at her undergraduate commencement from St. Francis College, where she graduated as valedictorian.)
“I am the first generation in my family to attend college, to receive a professional degree, and I will be the first lawyer in my family,” Markisic said in the interview. “This is what people call the American Dream.”
There are challenges to living dreams, and Radovic plainly asked Markisic if she ever struggled with success.
“Of course, but it is most difficult if you do not work hard,” Markisic replied. “And I am not the only one who worked hard. My mother and father truly worked hard for their children, so that it would be easier for us to succeed. And because of them, it was easier to succeed.”
She’s driven by her admiration for her family and all that they’ve been through, and her ultimate goal is to work for the World Bank. More than anything, she hopes to advocate for Bosnia and Herzegovina—and the entire region.
“They have inspired me, my family,” she told Radovic. “My motivation to succeed was so that their suffering in the war and in starting their lives over in America would not be in vain. We started at zero in America, and look how far we’ve come.”