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Ar 305089921


HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Last week, three final exams stood between Hannibal-LaGrange University senior Milos Stankovic and Saturday's commencement ceremony.

The exams, however, didn't compare to what Stankovic, a 24-year-old Serbia native, had been through to reach the graduation stage and a bachelor's degree in computer information systems.

Stankovic, who started at Hannibal-LaGrange in 2010 on a volleyball scholarship, learned English at HLGU before jumping into classes for his major. Financial troubles also caused him to return to Serbia for a two-year hiatus while he raised money to return to the U.S.

Stankovic said the support of Hannibal-LaGrange staff and his local host families helped him through his winding educational journey.

"They saw me and they just wanted to help," Stankovic said during a study break last week. "That's how this school is. We're kind of a big family here. If they see someone that is in need of help, they would help them. Probably without them, it wouldn't be possible."

Stankovic was born in Valjevo, a community of 175,000 in northwest Serbia. He attended elementary school there for eight years before enrolling in high school in the country's capital, Belgrade. Stankovic's post-secondary studies were focused on telecommunications and engineering.

After high school, Stankovic could've pursued higher education in Serbia, but he decided to travel to the U.S. instead. He knew volleyball was the only way to get there.

Stankovic, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker, posted a video of himself playing volleyball on Youtube and began emailing coaches in the United States. He caught the attention of the coaching staff at Hannibal-LaGrange. They offered Stankovic a scholarship, but one problem remained -- he couldn't speak English.

Stankovic enrolled in HLGU's English as a second language program, where he encountered students from many different countries.

"Pretty much the whole world was combined in there," he said.

Read the rest of the article here - http://www.whig.com/article/20160508/ARTICLE/305089921#