Alma was born in Croatia as a refugee after her father and pregnant mother gave everything they had to pay for a ticket out of war-torn Bosnia.
After a tumultuous journey through Europe, Alma and her family spent a few years in Copenhagen under temporary asylum. They came to Charlotte when Alma was three.
The Hemby Presidential Scholarship
Alma tells the story of her family arriving in the United States with $7. She says, "My parents succeeded in a new culture because they were well-educated. That's what sprouted my keen interest in education."
As a result of her family's experience, Alma says she finds personal satisfaction in excelling academically. Alma says, "As a scholarship recipient I began to believe I could be whatever I want to be. I was not only given four years of full tuition, but the opportunity to feel limitless."
"Coming to the United States as a refugee made higher education a privilege, a privilege that Queens and the Hemby Presidential Scholarship made possible."
- Alma Beciragic ’14
Through her studies, Alma developed a passion for environmental science. She teamed up with Queens business and environmental science professors to design an innovative recycling project for the City of Charlotte.
Dr. Steve Cox, CEO of a geographic information system company, was able to provide Alma a significant tool for her project. Dr. Reed Perkins taught her first geographic information systems class and sparked her interest in the story behind the data.
"I think my path was paved into what it is now as a result of interdisciplinary experiences. Dr. Perkins taught me the value of clarity in scientific writing and encouraged my desire for continued learning. Dr. Cox helped me build a sense of confidence and given me the opportunity to present at numerous state and national research conferences. And that's just to name a few!"
Killer Internship at NOAA
Alma's exposure to research continued with a summer 2013 internship for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As Queens' first ever Hollings Research Assistant at NOAA, she worked with remote sensing tools such as satellite imaging (and other technologies she described as "mind-blowing") to coastal and marine decision making.
"Working for NOAA under the U.S. Department of Commerce gave me perspective on how federal agencies operate," she said. "It was magnificent to see how NOAA is able to channel the efforts of its many employees to uncover the 'secrets' of the oceans and the atmosphere."