Selma Mujevic '07
MVCC was ‘My rock,’ says Mujevic ’07
It seems that Selma Mujevic ’07 is living the dream. Having relocated to New York City, the senior marketing planner is working for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Center, on the same floor as Jimmy Fallon, and planning to publish a children’s book.
But getting here wasn’t easy for Mujevic, who was born in Eastern Europe. Her family moved to the United States to escape the civil war that engulfed the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, and elementary school proved to be a rough time for her.
“I towered over all my peers, and I didn’t speak English well, which made me feel extremely awkward, and uncomfortable in my own skin,” says Mujevic, the eldest of four children. “I was teased a lot in school, and I’d always think the grass is greener on the other side, even though I didn’t know what ‘the other side’ was.”
At age 13, she returned to post-war Bosnia, and was stunned to see a civilization that was once a leader in Europe degraded to third-world status.
“This changed me,” says Mujevic. “I immediately learned how precious life is and how nothing is certain. It made me believe in humanity, tolerance, respect, and the power of human will.”
This trip made her think very differently about life and her outlook.
“I chose to look at the positive in every seemingly negative situation,” she says. “And I consciously make an effort to remember the humility in every personal victory.”
Her personal victories are many. Mujevic’s family chose to return to the United States when she was a high school senior, so she transferred to Utica’s Proctor High School, leaving her friends in Europe behind.
“Everything seems so dramatically visceral and present while you’re a high school student, regardless of where you are,” she says. “It was hard to adjust, but Utica proved to be a really welcoming place. I made new friends, excelled in my classes, and even though I missed all my old high school friends, I viewed change as a good thing.”
While Mujevic was a student at Proctor, a visit with an MVCC admissions counselor made her realize that the nearby college might be a perfect fit for her. The counselor talked about the different types of colleges, the costs, and pros and cons of each. It made Mujevic consider her priorities: She knew she wanted to be able to transfer to a four-year school, she wanted to be close to her family, and her education had to be affordable because she didn’t have a college fund or a financial cushion.
“I had to analyze my situation,” she says. “The Open House I attended was informative, the staff seemed really warm, and the campus was beautiful. It was just what I was looking for at the time.”
Mujevic’s interests were so varied (from social sciences and business to different cultures and creative arts) that she decided to dual-major – in Media Marketing and Advertising Management, as well as Liberal Arts – at MVCC.
“As a child, I was exposed to so many different life paths and careers – my parents were lawyers, my aunts and uncles were doctors, sociologists, artists, architects, carpenters, and home makers – that I had too many interests to commit to one field of study,” she explains.
“At the time I wanted to work for the United Nations, so Liberal Arts allowed me to create an International Relations curriculum, then explore other classes as electives.”
Mujevic was thorough in her research. “I read the titles of literally all the classes in the back of the catalog,” she says. “I stopped at the description for an advertising communications class, took it, loved it, and decided I wanted a degree in Media Marketing and Advertising Management, as well. I thought putting these two majors together really encompassed what I was looking for comprehensively.”
As a dual major, Mujevic was busy with her classes, but that didn’t stop her from getting involved with campus activities as well. She was vice president of programming for MVCC’s Program Board and was elected Student Representative of the Cultural Committee, vice president of the International Club, and voting member of the Lambda Beta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.
“I was always taught that you get back only what you put forth,” she says. “So, I decided to apply myself – I really lived in the moment of every class and tried to do as well as I could in order to get into a four-year school.”
While she didn’t realize it at the time, Mujevic’s extra-curricular involvements helped her in her future career.
“I learned how to run meetings, work collaboratively, and multi-task,” she says. “I also had the privilege of being sent to the APCA (Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities Conference) while an MV student. I was exposed to all kinds of talent and acts. This definitely helped me in my current role at NBC, with our local talent and news anchors.”
Mujevic says she also enjoyed the diversity of MVCC’s student body, and the physical environment offered different places for study and inspiration.
“I enjoyed studying on the grass, in the shade of a tree, watching the art class paint outside on nice days – it was so peaceful and inspiring,” she says. “I also liked that I had classmates from all walks of life – each with a different story of struggle and triumph, yet the same jumping board into an opportunity to achieve personal success.”
Mujevic transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology for her bachelor’s degree. She says she feels her MVCC education prepared her well for her studies, especially her skills in live participation, collaborative brainstorming, effective note taking and active listening.
“I really wanted to absorb what I was learning as well as challenge it, so that I could apply and relate it to my own world,” she says. “I remember a quote my history professor, David Katz, once said: ‘Different paradigms create different realities’ – this hit me like a brick. It was so simple, yet so unlimitedly pronounced. I used it in future discussions, and people would really take notice.”
Katz was just one of many professors at MVCC to inspire Mujevic. “I hate to name names, because I don’t want to leave anyone out, but he was my first professor that made me think, ‘Wow, what a real-life example of human resilience, the will to survive, and be strong.’ His attitude was so impressive. It impacted me.”
Mujevic adds that the Student Activities Office also helped her to feel empowered to lead and manage a double major in addition to all of her extra-curricular tasks.
“Sandy Cummings and Dennis Rahn, in particular, were really instrumental in giving me the support and encouragement I needed to participate and handle all of my extra-curricular roles,” she says.
At FIT, Mujevi took an internship class that connected her to prospective companies. One of those was NBC.
“I was ecstatic,” she says. “The interview was rigorous. I showed up at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. You needed special access to get anywhere, and I was escorted into a conference room, right next to the Dr. Oz studios. After four hours of what felt like an interrogation, I was told ‘We’ll let you know.’ I got a call that same day.”
Mujevic graduated from FIT in 2010. She had just finished her internship with NBC and the job market was difficult to break into. She worked several jobs before a serendipitous post on LinkedIn led her to apply for another position at NBC, her current role as Senior Marketing Planner for the local News Station’s sales team, where Mujevic helps to develop creative advertising strategies for prospective clients.
Mujevic has a lot on her plate and a lot to look forward to. “I have a lot of ideas, and goals,” she says. “Currently, I’m in wedding planning mode, as I’m happily engaged to my best friend.”
She realizes that change is constant, so is flexible with her goals and herself. But she is confident that her choices have been the right ones.
“I always knew that MV was my stepping stone,” she says. “But it really turned out to be my foundation – my rock – as I evolved academically, socially, and professionally.”