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Lithia Springs senior goes from war-torn Bosnia to top of class
by Bill Baldowski
June 04, 2014 02:19 PM | 937 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lithia Spring High School valedictorian Tarik Dzanic works on a math problem on a white board on the mantel of his Lithia Springs home, where a Bosnian flag also hangs.
Lithia Spring High School valedictorian Tarik Dzanic works on a math problem on a white board on the mantel of his Lithia Springs home, where a Bosnian flag also hangs.
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In his commencement address to more than 348 Lithia Springs High School graduates, the school’s valedictorian, Tarik Dzanic, called on his fellow graduates to cherish what he described as the most priceless possession in the world, opportunity.

“Opportunity is a gift that each of you hold in the palm of your hand,” he said. “It is a gift not many people in the world will get.”

Dzanic knows well of what he speaks as his family has come through the lasting effects of the 1992-95 Bosnian War to see him reach the school’s highest academic plateau.

Dzanic graduated with a 3.97 grade point average and is headed for Princeton University where he will pursue a career in engineering.

Born shortly after the close of the Bosnian War, Dzanic moved to the U.S. at the age of 6.

His extended family was decimated by the war as not only were a number them killed in the fighting itself but his grandfather was killed by Muslim Bosniak and Croat factions during “ethnic cleansing” efforts.

“My father tried for six years to get our family to the U.S. to avoid the affects of the continuing unrest in our country after the Bosnian War and we finally arrived in the U.S. in 2002,” Dzanic said.

His family had to live with his uncle for a while before moving to Lithia Springs in 2002.

Although born after the close of the Bosnia War, Dzanic returned to his native county last week and is helping fight another war there, this one begun by Mother Nature.

“My father and I are returning to assist in helping members of our family and others rebuild after massive flooding in the area,” Dzanic said.

Although thrilled to come to the U.S. from Bosnia, he remembers having a tough time learning English. That effort resulted in him spending two years in an English for speakers of other languages class.

“Like most European counties, words in the Bosnian language have genders attached to them while English is a totally neutral language with no gender,” Dzanic said.

He said his love of reading helped him to learn English.

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