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Almedin Smajlovic ’18

When Almedin Smajlovic ’18 stepped off the plane in the U.S. for the first time to embark on his college experience, a prized possession—his grandfather’s accordion—was nowhere to be found.

It took seven days for the native of Bosnia and Herzegovina to get his family heirloom back. Once he did, the instrument case, which clearly had been dismantled and searched, was broken.

Three years later, Smajlovic has overcome his unwelcome welcome and fully embraced life in the U.S. so much so that he hopes to stay here after graduating from Lake Forest. A double-major in math and computer science who is minoring in music, Smajlovic is a Forester you should know.

Q: What drew you to Lake Forest College?

A: “I heard about Lake Forest from two friends who graduated from United World College in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) who were studying here. After I went through the list of all the colleges we had opportunity to go to with a UWC scholarship, I saw that Lake Forest was good with computer science, math, and music—all the things I wanted to study. I also liked that Lake Forest is a smaller college. That was important to me. I was used to being able to talk to my teachers and I wanted to do that here. I’m not just a number in a class; I’m an individual person. I have interactions with my professors. They know me.”

Q: Have you had experiences here—besides your classes—that have helped prepare you for your future career?

A: “I have many connections with professors through my studies and with different staff members through my jobs on campus. I work for the LIT help desk and the circulation desk in the library. I’ve met really nice people here who have helped me with anything I’ve needed. And I’ve learned many things, not only about my field of study but a lot of things outside that, like how to live in a huge community—the Chicago area, and how to live in a small community—this campus.”

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: “I like to play music in my free time. I’m in a few bands, where I learned new styles of music. I play the accordion, piano, guitar, drums, and I’m learning clarinet and other percussion instruments. I also play soccer on an intramural team. I’m the goalkeeper. We won the championship tournament for two years. I also like to drive and explore the area, using a car share. I have cousins who live in Woodstock and Marengo, about 50 miles away, and I go visit them, which is nice because I’m so far from home.”

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: “I would like to go to grad school, maybe even get my PhD in computer science. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll get a job in computer science. I plan to stay in the U.S., for sure. It would be awesome to stay in the Chicago area.” 

Q: Any advice for new students?

A: “Choose to do whatever you think is good for you. Be open to learning new things. Always try to help your community as much as you can. Never forget where you came from.” 

Q: Parting words?

A: “Lake Forest College has put its ink in my life and written a really nice chapter. I will always think about the College and the gift it gave me: education.”