Emma Strenski graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit in the spring of 2014. During her Junior year, Emma enrolled in the Genocide and Holocaust course, taught by Brebeuf teacher Aaron Tague. The class had an eye-opening effect on Emma, awakening in her a desire to learn about the world and find ways to help those that are victims of horrific crises and conflict. This class would prove to be the catalyst that sparked Emma’s passion, charting her course through college, to Costa Rica, and now Sarajevo, Bosnia. But to arrive at these lofty milestones, Emma worked tirelessly to excel at the University of Wisconsin – Madison followed by acceptance to the prestigious Fulbright Scholars program.
During Emma’s time as an undergrad at UW-Madison, she did not shy away from becoming involved. Immediately after move-in in August of 2014, she walked on to the school’s NCAA Division I Women’s Open weight Rowing team, rowing competitively for three years. When she found time outside of two-a-day practices and competitions, she volunteered at the local human rights organization, Columbia Support Network. Additionally, Emma interned at the Wisconsin State Capital for State Senator Chris Larson and worked as an oral historian and archivist in the school’s History Department – all of this, mind you, on top of studying for her dual degrees in History and International Studies. Over her summer break, Emma studied abroad in Costa Rica. During her stay, Emma “fell in love with living abroad: meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and a different way of living.” While there, was contacted by her advisor about the Fulbright Scholarship. Fueled by her newfound desire to live overseas, she began the application and started the journey towards one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarship experiences.
After months of work to complete the application, finalizing her dream project proposal and an agonizing wait, Emma received word that she had been accepted into the Fulbright Program. Following graduation, Emma packed her bags and headed off to her home for the next year – Sarajevo, Bosnia. Emma says her choice to live and complete her research in Bosnia was inspired at a young age by her grandfather who worked as an attorney for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Brcko arbitration. “I grew up hearing stories of this arbitration and it has always intrigued me; however, I was not always aware that there was a possibility that I would be able to continue his legacy in Bosnia.” Emma is not only continuing her grandfather’s legacy in Bosnia – she’s creating one all her own. The Fulbright is allowing her to research the breakup of Yugoslavia into individual nation-states at the University of Sarajevo Faculty of Political Science. Specifically, she is using the Brcko Arbitration, completed as part of the Dayton Peace Accords, as a case-study of the effectiveness of international arbitration in peacebuilding. There’s no telling the total impact Emma’s research and time in Sarajevo will have on her future career, US foreign policy and beyond, but what we do know is that Emma continues to live out the motto