Small country, big dreams

Picture for a moment, growing up in a country where war is all around you. For Krenare Loxhaj, an international graduate student at UNI, it was a part of her childhood. Despite this adversity, she has managed to keep a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook on life while pursuing her education.

Krenare Loxhaj

Krenare is from Kosovo, a fairly new state that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, this is not her first time being in Iowa, as she came to Cedar Falls High School for her senior year as an exchange student. After her year abroad, she went back to Kosovo to obtain her bachelor’s degree in political studies. Although she loved being home, she wanted to continue her education, so she applied for a scholarship to get her master’s degree in the United States. She was awarded the scholarship, and had a choice between three colleges, with UNI being one of them. “I was drawn back to UNI because of the people and community, it gives you a sense of home even though I was far away from mine,” said Krenare.

She received the scholarship through the Kosovo Transformational Leadership Program. The scholarship project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which works to help countries that are post-conflict and developing nations. USAID partnered with the Transformational Leadership Program to create a scholarship to send students to the United States to receive an education and master’s degree. The purpose of this program is to increase the number of educated professionals to help strengthen Kosovo’s transition to a democratic and free market economy. Krenare is currently majoring in women’s and gender studies with an emphasis in political science.

Life in the United States is a bit different than she is used to. “Everything is better here for a student, the infrastructure, and the opportunities, there is much more freedom to choose what you want to study and get educated in” said Krenare. She also mentions the huge benefits people gain from being international students. “You get to see things from a different perspective, in my classes we talk about gender equality and I get to hear other people’s opinions and ways of thinking,” said Krenare.

Krenare plans to graduate in spring 2018, and move back to Kosovo and work to improve gender equality. She would like to teach while also being involved with politics. “I love teaching, and I feel the education system is very weak and one of the reasons our country isn’t moving forward is because we need changes in education and politics and allowing women to have an education and be equal in society,” said Krenare. Her passion and ambition shine through and now she is able to help her country from the benefits of the education she is receiving. “I am very grateful to this scholarship and to be here at UNI and I do think I would not enjoy any other place as much as I love UNI because it gives me a feeling of home.”

For more information about the scholarship, visit