We recently sat down with Mikva alumna, Biljana Droca, to interview her about her Mikva experiences and what she's been up to since her time at Mikva. This is what she had to say:
How did you first get involved with Mikva Challenge?
I got involved in Mikva as a junior at Amundsen High School. This was right around the time of the 2004 presidential election and the U.S. Senate election in Illinois. I looked up to a lot of my senior friends who participated in our school Mikva club and was fascinated by the many opportunities Mikva gave them, including the chance to travel to other states in the country.
What did you do with Mikva Challenge?
My involvement in Mikva was predominantly in the field of electoral politics. Mikva cemented my long-existing interest in the political process, democracy, and activism. I was particularly passionate about candidate Barack Obama and was excited to be able to share that passion with others through Mikva. Beyond Illinois, I campaigned for presidential candidate John Kerry. To this day I remember the excitement of our campaign activities, from the smaller things - wearing buttons and making rally signs - to the exhausting yet rewarding canvassing walks through neighborhoods in Wisconsin.
What are you doing now?
After high school and Mikva, I attended the University of Chicago where I obtained a political science Bachelor of Arts degree in 2010. Currently I am working as an accounts manager and paralegal at a small law firm in Chicago specializing in immigration law.
How has your experience as a Mikva Challenge student informed where you are today?
Mikva was instrumental to my self-development. Whether it was at meetings at the Hot House, at my summer internship, or at campaign events, Mikva taught me to value my own voice - a lesson that has informed both my academic and professional experiences. At Mikva, I gained the self-confidence that I needed to pursue my dreams. I learned invaluable public-speaking and interpersonal skills, and I met individuals who inspired and motivated me to strive for excellence. Most importantly, as an immigrant who had struggled for years to adapt to life in a new country, I look back at Mikva Challenge as a medium through which I began my integration into American society. In more ways than one, Mikva jump-started my life in the United States, and I remain forever grateful to the organization for the extraordinary impact it has had on me.
At Mikva Challenge, our mission is to train life-long civic leaders. Our alumni, like Biljana, and students affirm our success in getting young people to become leaders both today and tomorrow.