For Irfanela Selmanovic, the United States was a safe haven from the war raging in her native country of Bosnia. After living as a refugee in Germany for five years, she and her husband moved to O’Fallon, Mo., to live with her sister in 1997.
“If it weren’t for my sister, I probably wouldn’t have come to the United States,” Irfanela said. “She told me to give it a try, and if I didn’t like it, I could move back.”
Two years later, her first daughter was born. Shortly after that, Irfanela was hired at SCC’s Child Development Center (CDC) where she worked for nearly four years. It was when she became pregnant with her second child she left the college to stay at home with her children. “It was not an easy choice,” Irfanela said. “I had a hard time leaving SCC.”
Irfanela wanted to go back to school, but she knew SCC would have a place in her future. “I wanted to be there for my kids, so I chose to put my education on hold,” she said.
About a year ago, Irfanela took the step. “I got to a stage in my life where I knew I needed something else, so I went back to school,” she said.
SCC was the obvious choice for her. “I love this place,” Irfanela said. “It’s convenient and there are so many opportunities, plus it’s close to home.”
After being out of school for 20 years, she felt prepared and excited. “My first day of classes was wonderful,” she said. But the minute she got home she broke down and cried. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it all,” Irfanela said. She credits her perseverance to COL 101, an orientation class for first-time freshmen.
“COL 101 is great for returning learners,” Irfanela said. “It helped me prepare and more importantly, it taught me how to best utilize my time.”
The support of her family was another factor in her success. “They are my biggest blessing,” she said. “I think my kids look up to me and I keep them motivated,” she said. “They take school more seriously now, and they know if Mom can do it, they can do it."
In addition to her schoolwork, Irfanela is working in a restaurant part-time and raising her family. Her goal is to become a librarian.
“I took some tests at the Career Services Center, and library science matched my personality the best,” she said. “It’s very social and interactive, plus I love researching and working with technology.”
After SCC, she hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree in library science. It’s because of the supportive atmosphere at SCC that Irfanela would like to find her way back to SCC as a member of the library staff.
Looking back, Irfanela said that waiting to go back to school was the right choice for her. “When you’re older, you’re more mature and you know what you want,” she said. “It was the best decision I ever made.”