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NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Ema Sasic’s interest in journalism was sparked early.

The editor-in-chief of Illinois State University’s award-winning student newspaper, The Vidette, said her father read the Chicago Tribune and watched CNN every day. “It was always around me,” said Sasic, who will receive her bachelor’s degree Friday night.

But more than her parents’ reading and viewing habits affected her.

“From a very young age, I understood there was something different with my family,” she said.

Her parents fled Bosnia-Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia, amid war and violence. They met as refugees in Denmark, later moving to Germany, where Sasic was born.

In 1997, when Sasic was 2, the family moved to the United States. All three are U.S. citizens now.

“Everybody has a story. Everybody has something worth sharing,” said Sasic, whose hometown is Schaumburg. “There was never any question I’d choose journalism as my major.”

Last fall, she did a multi-part series for The Vidette, interviewing international students and others about immigration issues. The series, “Coming to America: An ISU Perspective,” won third place for in-depth reporting from the Illinois College Press Association.

“I realized from doing that there are so many ways to look at things,” Sasic said. “I want the silent voices of the world to be heard.”

Her parents have “had to face a lot of adversity,” she said.

In Bosnia, her father, Drasko Sasic, was a history and geography teacher, but his degree didn’t carry over to being able to teach in the United States. He works as a manager for a Japanese firm in the Chicago area.

Her mother, Jasminka Sasic, was interested in fashion design and sewing, but wasn’t able to pursue her interests.

Both parents have been very supportive of her desire to become a writer, she said. Her dream job is to cover the entertainment industry in Hollywood.

“Who knows? She may crack that Hollywood reporting world,” said John Plevka, general manager of The Vidette. “The desire, the drive, is there.”

Having met her parents, Plevka thinks their background contributed to her drive.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she’s driven to succeed. That’s the trail that they blazed,” he said.

“In baseball, we talk about a five-tool player who can do it all” — hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and speed, Plevka said. “That’s what I saw in her.”

She started as a reporter, then moved to news editor and later editor-in-chief. She also has done a regular podcast with another student reporter and some work with the student station TV-10 as part of her coursework.

Plevka said Sasic “came in as a solid reporter and writer. Her work ethic was just outstanding. She has a willingness to learn and is a great listener.”

In February, the paper won 29 awards from the ICPA, including first place for general excellence.

Using a Hollywood analogy, Sasic said, “It’s like the Best Picture Oscar. . It’s something we can all celebrate.”

He admits it’s a cliché, but Plevka said of Sasic’s future, “The sky may be the limit.”

Sasic already has a job lined up after graduation. She starts work in June as a copy editor and page designer at a newspaper in Bakersfield, Calif.

Her parents aren’t worried about their only child moving so far away.

“They know what a real long journey is,” from their time as refugees, she said.


Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph,


Information from: The Pantagraph,