When Nevena Cvijetic was a little girl growing up in Serbia, she never imagined that she would one day lead a professional development program for graduate and professional students at a university in the United States.
âI never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up,â she said.
Fast forward to today, and Cvijetic is thriving in her role as Executive Director of Leadership, Professional Development and Career for The Graduate College, where she oversees the Grad Academy, which provides free professional development opportunities to graduates. graduate students and professionals.
Your family immigrated to the United States when you were 8 years old. How has it shaped your life?
We left one war-torn country to experience culture shock in another. We landed with our suitcases and literally not a word of English. Let’s just say ESL programming wasn’t really a thing in Alaska in 2001 and the only other student who spoke Serbian in my school was two years above me.
I was the first in my family to learn English, and that came with a set of responsibilities, like accompanying my parents to doctor’s appointments, filling out insurance forms and arguing with the cable company. . Although we went through many challenges, I would not change the experiences as they shaped who I am today and now help me relate to the experiences of many UNLV students.
Tell us about your time at UNLV.
I obtained a bachelor’s degree in public administration, a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, and an MBA from Lee Business School. During my first semester of the MBA program, I was hired as a graduate assistant at Graduate College – it changed the trajectory of my career, and I’ve been here ever since.
You are the Executive Director of Leadership, Professional Development and Career at Graduate College. Did you always know this was what you wanted to do?
I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Since first year, I have explored the fields of nursing, education, healthcare management, nonprofit work, and psychology. Higher education has never crossed my mind. I always knew I wanted to inspire positive change in people, organizations and communities. Looking back, I attribute much of my career path to exceptional mentors who believed in me and pushed me to seize different opportunities.
Are you happy with where you landed?
In fact, I’m thankful that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Exploring different fields and being open to new opportunities paved the way for what I never knew was a dream job. I am grateful to be part of a team that enables students to enhance their expertise and acquire the skills in demand of the workforce as they prepare to graduate and enter the world of job. What excites me most about this role is that I know that we are just getting started and that our potential to reach, influence and impact students will continue to grow.
What do you want people to know about The Grad Academy, the Graduate College’s free professional development center for graduate students and professionals?
I want everyone to lead us graduate and professional students. Many students do not know the extent of the services we offer. Often, graduate students are hyper-focused on their research, which is a good thing because the goal of graduate studies is to become an expert in your field. But it’s really important to me that in becoming experts in their field, they don’t overlook transferable skills that will also help them in their career path. When reviewing the programs to offer, we look at the skills employers look for in applicants, some of which include communication, leadership, professionalism and teamwork.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I like to travel. I have visited nearly a dozen countries, including Cuba and Australia. It’s amazing that there are thousands of cultures around the world, and I love learning more about each place I visit – exposing yourself to cultures different from yours helps you navigate the world from a point more open and wider view.
You come from a cold climate. Is the winter ordeal better or worse than the summer heat in Las Vegas?
I would take the Las Vegas heat over the Alaskan cold any day.
What would be your last meal? And how does that represent you?
Coffee. Enough said.
Best three month stretch of the year?
October November December. Give me all the fall scents, sweaters, and family vacations.