Boise State is home to many unique and talented individuals who make up the fabric of our university. Each student has a varied path that led them here – from rural Idaho or across the globe – each call Boise, and Boise State home.
Idaho, and Boise have a long history of resettlement of individuals and families that have come to our local community as refugees. Boise is the home of the Agency for New Americans which is a nonprofit that has resettled over 3300 refugees from 33 countries as well as an office of the International Rescue Committee. Boise State currently has 128 undergraduate refugee students enrolled for Spring 2022.
Three of these refugee students, Irena Sisic, Fatima Alicehajic, and Darmin Hadzic, are alumni or current students in the department of radiologic sciences. Together with their families they braved the unthinkable – making a journey across the globe to escape war – all in search of a better, safer life.
Darmin Hadzic was born in the city of Banja Luka in Bosnia shortly before the Yugoslav wars began, so he has never experienced Bosnia without war. Hadzic’s parents and older sisters remember their escape from the war-torn cities much more vividly, but his earliest memories were actually of the refugee camps. Long rows of canopies in a dirt lot were what he considered home for the beginning of his life. Each time his family had to relocate, they had to give up some of their possessions. Eventually, Hadzic’s father was able to arrange a flight to the United States where they had relatives who moved years prior.
Hadzic and his family spent their first few years in Twin Falls, Idaho making ends meet and paying off the loans his father took to get them out of Bosnia. Hadzic’s mother worked as an interpreter and his father, lacking proof of his college education, had to work at a trailer assembly company. Over the years, Hadzic gradually gained a grasp on the English language and was able to obtain his citizenship. After high school Hadzic joined the United States Navy to be able to afford college and to pay the United States back for allowing him and his family to live here.
Following his naval service, Hadzic returned to Twin Falls for college and to help his parents. He worked as a hospital corpsman in the Navy which is where he developed an interest in the medical field. Once he completed his associates degree in health science he applied to Boise State University in their bachelors program in radiologic sciences. Boise State was still close enough that he could help his family – which was his primary motivation.
“Boise State has helped me gain proficiency in the imaging field in a time when the public is in need of healthcare workers. I am able to hone my skills in the field while at the same time able to give back to the community. I am somewhat older than my peers, but I still feel a sense of belonging at this campus,” Hadzic said.
Hadzic has traveled to many countries – he was born in Europe, raised in North America and worked for much of his naval career in the far east – but still considers Idaho his home.
“I have pursued medicine as a career ever since I left high school. I helped in many settings while enlisted so I was able to see many sides of the healthcare profession. By comparing and contrasting the different fields, I determined that imaging fit me best. I am happy to see that I am enjoying my current clinical experiences,” Hadzic said.
Hadzic is in his senior year here at Boise State and currently works at St Luke’s Boise as a radiologic technologist although his current schedule only allows him to work on the weekends.
“This field allows me the flexibility to go to various places, so I am likely to take advantage of that by becoming a traveling tech. I am also considering working in hospitals in US bases overseas. This is still some time off, however, as I intend to pursue computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging first,” Hadzic said.
“We have been very fortunate to have had many students in our radiologic sciences department programs that themselves or their parents came to our region as refugees” Armstrong said.
Boise State, and Idaho are very fortunate to have these brave, colorful students who help bond the fabric of our university.