Magazine Feature / People

Bulgarian scholar discovers strength at Women’s College

Violina Mitovska, 20, was destined for higher education — her first word was “book” and her favorite make-believe character was a university student.

Those childhood dreams are coming true with the help of the 2006 Vision Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship to DU’s Women’s College sponsored jointly by the college and the Women’s Vision Foundation.

As a child in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, Mitovska watched her parents study for college.

“Some of my earliest memories are of the silhouettes of my parents, arched over thick and heavy books,” Mitovska says.

Her parents were so concerned about their only daughter’s education that they moved to the U.S. to give her better opportunities.

The transition was difficult. When they arrived in Denver, Mitovska and her parents didn’t speak English, had little savings and few possessions.

“It was a completely new beginning and we had to rebuild our lives from scratch in an unfamiliar environment,” Mitovska says. “I was a teenager and finding belonging did not come easy.”

After graduating from high school, Mitovska joined AmeriCorps*VISTA, a program that pairs volunteers with community organizations working to eliminate poverty. She volunteered for 3,400 hours with DenverWorks, a local nonprofit providing job preparation and placement to Denver’s unemployed and low-income populations.

“I had witnessed the impact of the work of the Peace Corps in Bulgaria and became determined to become a change agent myself,” Mitovska says.

Mitovska, a business administration major, says the Vision Scholarship allows her to focus on academics rather than paying for her education. She plans to go to graduate school for a master’s in international business and later hopes to work in economic development.

“Violina brings enthusiasm and the ability to laugh at herself,” says Carol Zak-Dance, Mitovska’s public speaking professor. “She has had interesting life experiences for someone so young and she’s had the opportunity to share some of those experiences with others.”

In her first quarter of studies, Mitovska says she’s flourishing at the Women’s College.

“It is so empowering to be surrounded with intelligent and determined women and not feel as if you are competing,” Mitovska says.

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