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Aneta Gocmanac is a Western Illinois University sophomore, who was born and raised in Krusevac, Serbia. It wasn’t until three years ago that she had ever stepped foot in the United States. That day, which she remembers clearly, was the best and the worst day of her life.

Gocmanac had left the only life she had ever known behind, but on the other hand, she had always been inclined towards a challenge, and moving to the other side of the world was just that.

In Serbia, Gocmanac was a fierce competitor, trying her hand at dance, ballet, theater, volleyball, karate, swimming, soccer and gymnastics. In 2005, she was even a European Dancing Champion for her age group.

In the classroom, she worked equally as hard. Unlike in the United States, in Europe, students test into specialized high schools where they have a major, and when they graduate they receive a certificate for their sector. Gocmanac’s sector was Language, and by the time she graduated, she had a firm grasp on German, Latin, French, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Croatian and the five dialects of Serbian.

Gocmanac distinctly remembers June 28, 2015, as the day the United States became her home.

It was the day she was greeted by an entirely new culture, etiquette and system of laws.

“Being at a new school is hard enough, but being on a new continent is scary,” Gocmanac said.

Instead of cowering, she quickly made the foreign country her home. In the one year she spent at Hinsdale Central High School, Gocmanac was a member of nine clubs. One of which, the Video Game Club, she was elected president of.

At Western, Gocmanac has been no less involved. Last year she was in a two-person play, “Where have all the Lightning Bugs Gone.” She joined the University Union Board, on which she held the position of Welcome Week Leader and Chair of Collaborations and Traditions. She also joined Delta Zeta and played intramural volleyball with enough time for her psychology Pre-Med major and neuroscience minor.

“The first time I stepped foot on Western’s campus, I felt at home”, Gocmanac said. And ever since, she’s been glad she made Macomb her new home.

“I fell in love with the people here,” Gocmanac said. “They’re like family to me now, and I miss my friends in Serbia, but I wouldn’t trade being a Leatherneck for anything”.

Marty Rogers, Courier Staff
January 19, 2018