There is so much potential that students who live in Kosovo have. There is a lot of talent that needs to be nurtured and guided. The lack of access to platforms where they can channel their potential and achieve personal development is a huge barrier to them. But why does this only remain rhetoric? Why are so few Kosovar students achieving their dreams and goals? After racking my brain for an answer, I realized that the root of the problem was not the students themselves, but rather the lack of opportunities that are presented to these students.
Upon attending the sixth form in the United Kingdom, I have noticed a large amount of differences between the schemes and programs available to students in the UK and in Kosovo. In the UK, we have various career meetings, opportunities to talk to professionals about their careers, we get chances to visit workplaces that we might be interested in, and weekly exposure to various different challenges and schemes. However, I have recently become aware that a large majority of schools in Kosovo do not have these opportunities. Economic difficulties may prove to be barriers for such programs, however, I’ve started my own initiative to give students who are interested in STEM a chance to a virtual network with professionals for free.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are such important career paths for the development of humans but also for the development of a fledgling country like Kosovo. These careers contribute towards the formation of a better society, for example, medicine helps medicate ill patients and technology improves the methods of living by making processes more efficient. After witnessing the lack of support for students in Kosovo to achieve a STEM career, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and create a mentoring opportunity for these students. Kosovar-Albanian students who have an interest in STEM have the opportunity to sign up for a mentoring scheme that partners any interested student with a professional or researcher from their field of choice. After the coordination of dates and times, the student and mentor will be able to participate in one-hour weekly Zoom calls, in which the mentor will be able to explain the pathways for entering their career, and any other relevant information that the student might need. The program is three weeks long and has begun on August 3rd, and any interested students can sign up by clicking the link and filling out the form. (https://forms.gle/Tg4yHrR813bugpsN9)
I am very lucky to be a part of the Kosovo diaspora in the UK, because I am aware that I have opportunities here which youngsters in Kosovo most likely don’t have. Not only do I have the possibility to encourage positive change in Kosovo by voicing my opinions here in the UK and abroad, but I also have the chance to gain support from a wider variety of people here in the UK and promote awareness of a lack of opportunities for Kosovar students. I aim to use my power to create a positive environment in terms of career development for students in Kosovo because going into STEM requires students to have a lot of knowledge about the subject. Making informed decisions in terms of a career and commitments is also a key aspect to having a successful career, so I hope that this program provides these students with the right amount of knowledge, and to have any questions answered about their future. No student should be left without support, and this is what I hope to promote through the creation of this mentoring program.
My name is Ideja Bajra, and I am a 16-year-old currently living in the UK. Since the age of 7, I have aspired to become a scientist, and I wish to fulfill that dream by studying biochemistry at university, focusing on the importance of protein structure for the function of proteins in the human body.
It has always been a particular passion of mine to encourage more youth into STEM, therefore, I have created a non-profit, ‘Based In Science’, that aims to encourage more of the youth in the UK and Kosovo into STEM-related careers. As part of the non-profit, I will be offering free activities, events, and opportunities to students interested in STEM who are from the UK and Kosovo. Aside from organizing a non-profit, I am a student at Drapers’ Academy Sixth Form in the UK, studying Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for A Levels.
In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing and am currently writing a book about the contribution of the 21st-century female biochemists to the field of biochemistry, and the major scientific developments that have occurred in the last 50 years. I also co-authored a featured article about BAME women in STEM for the Biochemist magazine, as well as having written a book review for the Biochemist. As the Ambassador for Biochemistry at the Young Scientists’ Journal, I regularly write articles and interviews for the journal, to promote a love for science and to encourage more people into biochemistry careers.