A Dragon Trailblazer

As graduation nears, excitement fills the air with this year’s graduates preparing to walk across the stage. Sejla Dervisic, a third-year senior double majoring in history and political science, is the featured student speaker at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Although born and raised in Fargo, N.D., Sejla comes from a family with deep roots in Bosnia. Her parents, Sacir and Zahida Dervisic, immigrated to the United States around 1995. She and her sister, who graduated from MSUM last year, are the first in their family to attend and graduate college.

Sejla's talk will stress the importance of learning history and the need for the education sector to teach content from multiple perspectives. She believes teaching new perspectives, instead of limiting them to one Eurocentric viewpoint, is one of our country’s biggest strengths. She maintains that differing ideas are cause for celebration instead of something to be weaponized, especially in education and politics. Her love of different languages and cultures drives her to connect with individuals from all walks of life. She sees education as a powerful tool for building intercultural bridges.

Sejla’s interest in history started at an early age, with her father’s “guess the country” game. He quizzed her on different countries based on the geographical location, outline of the country, and capital city. Her parents encouraged her to learn as much as possible and to explore areas of interest. She credits an AP U.S. history class taught by Davies High School teacher Jennifer Johnson for solidifying her passion for history. Since then, she has been eager to learn more and aspires to become a U.S. history professor at a university.

Upon learning of her nomination, Sejla was surprised as she hadn’t planned to walk in the ceremony and had already booked a trip to Mexico. However, after some convincing from Dr. Annette Morrow, one of her history professors, she decided to seize the opportunity and be the voice for her graduating class.

In her free time, Sejla is passionate about fostering dogs. Her family shares her love for animals, and they recently participated in a trip to Croatia where they volunteered to aid in transporting animals to England due to the closure of shelters in the country. Sejla also tutors other students in history, which Dr. Morrow encouraged.   

“Dr. Morrow has pushed me to do and consider different things. She was a key figure in encouraging me to go beyond just being a student here,” she said.

Along with Dr. Morrow, Sejla praises political science Professor Paul Kramer for his support and multifaceted teachings.

“I’m always so excited to go into his classroom. He makes political science less daunting and breaks down the content in a way that shows each side’s argument and perspectives,” Sejla said.

After graduation, Sejla plans to take a gap year and explore her options. She is considering joining the Peace Corps and teaching English abroad. She has also researched colleges for graduate school but is leaning toward the University of Texas at Austin for its exceptional U.S. history program.

When she reflects on her time at MSUM, she highlights the university’s commitment to student success, fostered by the outstanding faculty and staff and the diverse background of the student population.

“MSUM did a great job preparing me for the next big steps. Being here taught me how to connect with different people that aren't in your little bubble,” she said.

When looking back on what it means to be a Dragon, Sejla undoubtedly points to the university’s ability to produce students indicative of MSUM’s three pillars: grit, humility, and heart.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2023; go be trailblazers, Dragons.

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