“From the beginning, the professors understood my refugee status and any language barriers I had melted away."
When Bergite Musaj was 16 years old, she and her family fled war-torn Kosovo in search of a new life in the United States. Today, with a degree in criminal justice from Monroe in hand, Bergite wants to better the lives of others in need the way she and her family were helped.
"My family and I made the move to NYC at the end of 2014, and I started Monroe almost immediately," says Bergite. "When it came time to choose a college, I picked Monroe for its international vibe, small class size. and welcoming atmosphere. I also knew I wanted a career in criminal justice in order to give back to the community and be a voice for others." Bergite received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice summa cum laude from Monroe in 2017. She is the first member of her family to attend college.
“I want to be the difference in someone’s life,” Bergite said. “I’ve had so much support and kindness from Monroe and now I’m able to help someone else in need.”
Acknowledging that starting college in a new country was stressful, Bergite immediately felt welcomed into the Monroe family, she says. “From the beginning, the professors understood my refugee status and any language barriers I had melted away,” she said. “There was plenty of opportunity here for me to succeed.”
She certainly took advantage of those opportunities. While at Monroe, Bergite was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a board member of the Amnesty International Club, Mock Trial Association, Criminal Justice Club, and one of the College’s first student ambassadors. She was also a founding member of the Women’s Empowerment Institute, a group of women students and teachers who met weekly to discuss various ways to be impactful and provide mentoring to students.
“At Monroe, I learned the importance of being a voice in the community and how to be the change for others,” she says. “Monroe has given me a solid foundation for success and the confidence I need to speak in a room full of people. Because of the life lessons learned at Monroe, I am now able to give back to the community and continue my fight for social justice.”
Today, Bergite is the volunteer manager at Jumpstart for Young Children, a national non-profit organization that provides educational support for families in underserved communities. This full-time position all started from a work study program she was part of while at Monroe.
“I keep in mind the values Monroe has taught me when working with disadvantaged families. Monroe taught me confidence, leadership skills, and kindness. And that is something I will never let go of.”