RIT Croatia through Lenses of its Alumni Association Presidents

In this celebratory year, when RIT Croatia is marking its 20thanniversary, it is beneficial to look back and to honor one of the key stakeholder groups for the success of this institution – RIT Croatia Alumni. RIT Croatia Alumni community includes more than 1,900 graduates and the RIT Croatia Alumni Association was founded in 2003. Throughout the past 14 years, this association has been actively functioning as an influential network which connects all generations of former students in order to establish their permanent and mutual cooperation, and to help preserve the spirit of RIT Croatia. With the help and guidance of the previous and the current Alumni Association President, many useful events were held, which served the purpose of providing strong business contacts and raising awareness of the importance of connectivity.

The beginnings were hard as the concept of Alumni Association was relatively unknown in Croatia and the immediate region; however, strong relationships that were developed among students during their studying years have helped in raising awareness about the importance and benefits of networking. The first Alumni Association president was Izet Ždralović (presiding from 2004-2008) who remembers those days fondly; he was elected by his peers and his primarily goal was to plant the seed for creating tight bonds and lifelong friendships among RIT Croatia Alumni across the generations. He takes great pride in the fact that he participated in development of this important aspect of RIT Croatia, and he strongly believes that RIT had a great impact on other educational institutions in Croatia, as well as on various industries, where its Alumni have established successful careers. When asked about what he thinks of the RIT Croatia community today, Izet pointed out "it is awesome that today, RIT has the presence in my home town Zagreb. At the same time, it is cool that it started out of Dubrovnik where most of us from the first generations had put in pieces of our personalities in the shaping of RIT Croatia”.

Jernej Masnec, former Alumni Association president (2008-2010) strongly believes that his learning experience at RIT Croatia, both as a student and later on as an active Alumnus, has formed him into the person he is today. "It shaped me into a proactive problem solver with great communication skills, who is not afraid to take risks business or life-wise”, Jernej stated.

Ana Jarak, Alumni Association president from 2012-2016, emphasized that the Alumni community is very strong and tight in Croatia. Although it has grown to almost 2000 members now, it still feels like a family. She has witnessed on numerous occasions of this family coming together: whether it’s a community event, student mentorships or social gatherings – there is always a great crowd. In her opinion, the main reason for such commitment lies in the gratitude that Alumni feel toward the community that made sure they had the best opportunities while studying. Class projects, faculty mentorships, coops, made them appreciate these relationships that made them "ready” for the real world. "I remember one initiative during my term as the Alumni president, panel discussions on different careers opportunities in the real sector. Numerous Alumni participated in these panels at both Dubrovnik and Zagreb campuses, and we never seemed to have enough chairs in the rooms to seat all interested students. Each Alumnus, with a different story and a different career path – and one thing in common: everyone working hard. Failing and succeeding, learning and sharing, welcoming new challenges. Not one path, not one story fitting all. And that is the great lesson learned at RIT: pick a road that works for you and work until you make it. It may not work for everyone else, but it does for you”, commented Ana when asked about her biggest achievement during her presidency.

The current Alumni Association President, Nina Mimica, was elected in 2016. She strongly believes that the biggest asset of the college community are Alumni itself - their various careers, experiences, knowledge. That is why, she believes, it is of crucial importance that the Alumni work on maintaining and improving alumni connection and communication with different initiatives.The focus of her current mandate is to support and initiate activities which will foster and improve alumni communication and connection. Concretely, vice president Vladimir Dujić and myself focused on areas alumni are interested in based on quantitative responses, and thus with support of Alumni Office and the Dean, they have managed to organize Alumni meet-ups in Zagreb, Split, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik in the academic year 2016/2017. Nina and Vladimir have also supported RIT Cares community initiative in Zagreb and Split, and they have established LinkedIn page as one spot for Alumni professional purposes. Moreover, the Alumni Ambassadors program and Alumni - Student Mentorship program have been initiated and the entire RIT Croatia community has high hopes in successful outcomes of both. When asked about her experience at RIT Croatia, Nina has no hesitations when saying "studying at RIT Croatia was among most memorable periods in my life - good quality education, possibility to apply learned material in practical manner through various projects and internships, while at the same time having awesome time and making friends for life”.

When asked what they would recommend to current and future students of RIT Croatia, Izet, Jernej, Ana and Nina were all clear and determined with their messages. It is all about following your dreams and taking the best of what studying at RIT Croatia has to offer. "Don't be afraid to take risks and dive into the unknown when you feel it” said Jernej. And stand behind your choices as they will determine your path in life. "I often get asked if I would make the same choice if I had a chance. I would not change a thing, not one. RIT experience made me into a person and a professional I am today”, concluded Ana.

RIT Croatia. Different from Day 1.

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