Ben Mehic, Staff Writer
Utica College is home to one of the most diverse student populations in upstate New York. Not only does UC provide education to international students, but the institution has also provided first-class education to local immigrants who have called Utica home for quite some time.
Dzenan Racic, a sophomore nursing major, has been a resident of Utica for virtually his entire life. Like many students wandering the halls of the Gordon Science Center, Racic has a story that reflects struggle and triumph; two things that many have experienced throughout the course of their time in Utica.
“I moved to the United States when I was just a couple of months old. I was essentially born in Bosnia, then moved straight to the states, to Utica,” Racic said. “I went to Albany Elementary, then to John F. Kennedy Middle School, then Proctor High School.”
Sports can often serve as an outlet of expression and assimilation, so when Racic’s father had the opportunity to share his love of soccer, Racic picked it up right from the get-go.
“I started playing soccer when I was four years old, so right around kindergarten,” he said. “My dad played soccer growing up, so it was kind of something I picked up early.”
Racic, who said he’s always played soccer at a competitive level, suffered a setback early in his high school career.
“I tore three ligaments in my ankle in high school,” he said. “I fell in a hole in the field, and felt my ankle snap during my freshman year.”
Racic went through extensive therapy to bounce back and luckily recovered enough to go on to play soccer for UC. Unlike high school, though, collegiate level soccer presented situations that he wasn’t normally accustomed to.
“Playing soccer at the collegiate level for Utica College was much different than what I was used to. It’s much harder; much more physically demanding,” he said.
Unfortunately, during his sophomore year at UC, Racic suffered yet another setback. He tore his patellar tendon, and hasn’t been able to play soccer since September.
Despite all of the recent setbacks, ones that would certainly diffuse the hopes of continuing soccer for others, Racic has no plans on giving up.
“I plan on continuing soccer after it gets healed up,” he said. “I’ll likely end up doing platelet therapy, where they inject platelets into your tendon and helps it repair.”
Soccer has almost been a microcosm of what Racic has gone through since coming to the United States and what his parents went through in Bosnia. But ultimately, he’s recognized that education trumps everything else.
“I plan on becoming an anesthesiologist after I finish school, so soccer hasn’t been a primary focus of mine,” Racic said. “I’ve always had an interest in chemistry and health because my mom works in the health field as well. She’s a surgical technician.”
Bogdan Lashchuck, a sophomore at Utica College, can reflect on the hard work that Racic puts in to accomplish his academic and career goals.
“He stays on top of what matters,” Lashchuck said. “When I ended up missing classes due to personal issues, Dzenan was there to help me catch up. He came through whenever I needed him.”
Dr. Terri Provost, a biology professor at UC, can also attest to Racic’s work ethic.
“Dzenan is a very good student and a pleasure to have in class,” she said. “To succeed like Dzenan, you have to study hard, ask questions and of course, attendance is huge.”
Racic is just one of many students at UC with a story revolving around growth and persistence, and he’s recognized it too.
“I reflect the school in a good way, being an immigrant, and pulling a 3.91 cumulative grade point average,” he said. “I’d like to think that I make the school look good.”