Gratitude is a virtue that most people fail to develop until mid-life. 2023 Lucketts Ruritan Scholarship winner Elma Hajric has mastered the virtue at a tender age.
Elma was born and raised in Leesburg but moved to Lucketts five years ago with her two older sisters and her parents. Her parents, Mahir and Elmedina Hajric, emigrated to the US from Bosnia in 2001 through the Port of Baltimore with two young daughters and two suitcases. After living in Baltimore for four months, they moved to an apartment in Leesburg. The Hajrics were both working but only earning minimum wage rates and had never owned a home. This qualified them for Loudoun County’s Affordable Dwelling Unit program, and in 2003 they were able to purchase a home in Leesburg.
The Hajrics were from a rural community in Bosnia, and the urban and suburban environments they first encountered did not evoke the experiences of home. They purchased a home in Lucketts off of New Valley Church Road in 2018 and immediately felt that this, finally, was home. “Neighbors were warm and welcoming from the very first day. We were surrounded by the natural beauty of Lucketts providing a serenity long lost by my parents. They were able to have a vegetable garden and even raise chickens!” Grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well as cousins are all back in Bosnia still and the Hajrics have been able to return for visits. Comparing life for her cousins in Bosnia to her life in Lucketts has developed Elma’s deep spirit of gratitude.
“The most important lesson I have learned from my parents is that if something comes too easily, you are doing something wrong! Hard work is always required in any worthwhile undertaking!” Moving to a new school as a freshman and then having the year cut short by COVID provided Elma with many opportunities to test the lesson of hard work! It was hard to know if you were giving 100% to your schoolwork when remote learning entered the picture. “It created a real loss of confidence to not have direct interaction with peers and teachers in the classroom.” Elma found confidence through more time at home with her parents and older sisters during her sophomore year and found some of her teachers were capable mentors. Elma’s older sisters are both still students themselves. Dalila graduated from NOVA Community College before enlisting in the US Air Force. She just obtained a master’s degree from American Military University. Zijada, the middle sister also graduated from NOVA Community College and has just completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree through Strayer University. All this learning happening in the Hajric’s home during COVID was a blessing for Elma!
It was during her junior year however that Elma was able to fully connect with the Tuscarora community. Elma is a well-rounded student with and affinity for language and the fine arts. She was able to be part of creating a magazine for Tuscarora students providing an outlet for student poets and artists. “This effort has made an impact that will last beyond my time at Tuscarora. “ In addition to the magazine, Elma was a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team, the German, Art and National Honor Societies and the Model United Nations Club.
She works part time at Dick’s Sporting Goods on Edwards Ferry Road and has appreciated the opportunity to work with the public and earn her own money. “Every day I get to talk to, and problem solve with lots of different people. I’ve learned that I enjoy this kind of responsibility.”
Every school year someone comes to Tuscarora who is new to the school community, who comes from “somewhere else” like Elma did her freshman year. “I would tell them to simply breathe, because the air is different, but it is good! Open your eyes to see the opportunities all around you and to experience the many kind souls you will find here!” Well said Elma!
Elma will be living at home and attending Northern Virginia Community College in the fall where she will focus on core courses leading to a university degree in criminal justice or a related field. (Unless she finds a way to make a living through her fine art talent and love of language and culture!). Congratulations Elma! Your future is very bright no matter where it takes you. We are glad you will be in Lucketts a little longer