CCAPS junior balances dual degrees and leadership roles on her way to fulfilling her parents' dream of being a first-generation college graduate

Samra Bojcic has big goals. Having grown up in Rochester, it’s not surprising that she would be attracted to the health care field. Her parents, both refugees from Bosnia, met in Rochester which, in addition to having a large Bosnian population, is also home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. As Samra tells it, their transformative experience of “being the best parents” after starting over in a foreign country drives her to set and accomplish big goals.  “Yeah, my life's goal is to give back to them, you know. After everything that they've been through,” she muses.

Samra discovered the Health Services Management (HSM) program while she was a freshman. She began taking classes in the program in her sophomore year, fall 2022. She had already committed to an economics major and wanted to round it out with another discipline, going for a dual degree. She was anxious to learn all she could while in college and get involved wherever possible in student activities.

And get involved she did! In addition to working two part-time jobs, Samra is:

  • the CCAPS representative in the University Student Senate.
  • vice-president of finance and strategy for the HSM student club.
  • on the newly formed CCAPS DEI Council.
  • a mentee in the CCAPS Mentor Program.
  • helping to build a CCAPS Student Board from scratch. 

She’s also a member of the University’s 180 Degrees Consulting, a student club that does pro bono projects for local businesses. She says, “These are things that I enjoy doing for leadership experience and consulting experience, since I want to start off as a consultant.”

In this Q&A, we lean in and find out what motivates Samra and how she manages her busy schedule.

Why did you pair economics with health services management as a dual degree?

I didn’t want to just have an econ major. I like econ because it can reach into a lot of different industries and I can work anywhere. And I like having background knowledge of economic theories and about how economics works and is implemented in different countries. I knew I loved economics and I wanted to work in the business world (hence the econ major), but also I knew I had a passion for health care, which influenced me to choose HSM.

Quite frankly, our health care system in the United States is not good because it’s not affordable, and that’s where my expertise of HSM and economics comes into play. And having a positive influence on the health care system and especially health insurance has become one of my life’s passions, to make health care affordable and accessible for everyone.

I have thought about doing something like health economics in grad school and beyond. I’m still too young to know for sure. But I do know that hopefully, one day, I can make a positive impact on the health care industry by becoming a leader in the efforts to make health care as affordable as possible in the United States.  

Samra Bojcic sits in a wing-back chair, with flames from a lit fireplace in the background
"I do know that hopefully, one day, I can make a positive impact on the health care industry by becoming a leader in the efforts to make health care as affordable as possible in the United States."

Tell us more about the consulting club you belong to.

It’s a really cool organization. They have four or five different clients at a time and they can be from any sector, from any industry. I’m involved in my second client project right now. They’re not mock case studies, they’re real local businesses. Last semester, my project was with the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We worked on a marketing project with a DEI focus in order for their current exhibits to garner more engagement. 

And this semester, we are creating a strategic business plan for a grocery store that intends to open in a neighborhood of Duluth, Minnesota, that’s categorized as both very economically disadvantaged and as a food desert. The area is really in need of this grocery store, and I am hoping that the work my team and I do will help the community be one step closer to getting their grocery store. 

With all you have going on, do you make checklists?

Oh yes, I have multiple! I use a wall calendar and I absolutely love using my Google Calendar. I use it for both school and personal events, I put everything going on in my life on my Google Calendar so I can have a full visual of everything that I have going on in front of me at all times. A busy schedule, even if it's packed full from morning to night, really isn't overwhelming when it's full of things that you enjoy and find fulfilling. That's my biggest piece of advice.

“A busy schedule, even if it's packed full from morning to night, really isn't overwhelming when it's full of things that you enjoy and find fulfilling. That's my biggest piece of advice.”

What else appeals to you about the HSM program?

If you’re ambitious, if you want to make yourself stand out, there’s lots of things you can do. There are a lot of opportunities that you can build for yourself. But you’ll need to be inventive and connect with your faculty and advisors. I started by asking, “What can I engage myself in to be more involved?”

Coming from another, bigger college on campus, which I found a little intimidating, everything feels possible at CCAPS. For example, I have so many, so many amazing career-building opportunities because our professors get to know us, one on one. Because our classes are smaller and we really get to know our professors and what company they come from and what they do and how they got there. And every single professor is happy to recommend us for a job or help us get a job. 

And then, on top of that, we have our mentorship program, where every single mentor is so happy and eager to help us in our career, help to maybe get into the company they’re in. 

What HSM courses have piqued your interest the most?

My particular interest is within health care health policy! As for classes in HSM, HSM 3521 - Health Care Delivery Systems, HSM 4561W - Health Care Administration and Management, and HSM 4591 - Health Care Law and Ethics. I am currently taking HSM 4575 - Innovation in Health Services and HSM 4043 - Project and Program Management in Health Services Management and I am loving them! I am so excited to take HSM 3101 - Applied Health Economics because it'll be the perfect combination of my two niches. 

Additionally, HSM has a really interesting and long elective list we get to choose from and, from that list, there is a really straightforward pathway to minor in public health because a lot of the requirements overlap. I am only a few credits away from finishing my minor in public health as a result, so that's another door HSM has opened for me. I have had so much fun every semester taking my classes because they are all genuinely so interesting and informative, and all are topics I really truly care about.

Do you ever get discouraged under the weight of your big goals?

Despite all of this that I'm saying, and everything that I do, I struggle with telling myself that I'm doing enough, and that I'm doing well, but it’s completely normal to feel that way as an undergrad trying to figure everything out. I have really big goals and, like I said, my parents are refugees, and there's nothing I want more in the world than to finish school and make all of their hard work pay off. I will be the first person in my family to graduate university in America, it's always been their dream since I was little. 

So I have really big goals when it comes to stuff like this, and it's hard to not tell yourself “I'm not enough. I'm not doing enough.” But I know that’s a normal response at this stage of life. I would love to one day meet with a student that's just like me and tell them, “Look at where I ended up. Because, rationally, I know that it will work out.”

Samra Bojcic is the recipient of the Ingrid Lenz Harrison Scholarship for Continuing Education

Monique Dubos is a writer and content strategist with the U of M College of Continuing and Professionals Studies, where she has covered the College’s noncredit professional development, construction management, health services management, and IT infrastructure programs since 2018. She has also written for the Institute on the Environment, the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, and various publications. Connect with her via LinkedIn.