Far travels for one SDSU student

Emma Dejong

Emma Dejong

Bojan Salihagic is proud of where he has made it, but it has not been an easy road. Salihagic, a sophomore political science major, arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Feb. 10 to begin his 10-week internship with the U.S. Department of State.

He grew up in Bosnia during its Civil War but fled the country with his family in 1999.

“We left because things weren’t getting any better,” Salihagic said. “My parents wanted a better future for me.”

The U.S. Embassy helped his family make a home in Sioux Falls, and the experience made a lasting impression on Salihagic.

“With our interaction with the U.S. Embassy when we were leaving Bosnia – that’s what made me want to do this,” Salihagic said.

After high school, Salihagic served in the U.S. Marine Corps for two years but was injured in training exercises. He then decided to pursue his education.

For his internship, Salihagic is working in the Regional Security Office for the Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen.

“I work with the Diplomatic Security Service special agents that are assigned to the office, (and I work) on security issues involving embassy employees, U.S. citizens in Denmark, as well as U.S. Government property in Denmark,” Salihagic said.

Salihagic applied for the internship online through the U.S. Department of State more than a year ago, he said.

“It’s a very complicated process,” Salihagic said. “They investigate your whole life.”

Gary Aguiar, political science department internship coordinator, agreed, saying the year-long wait can be difficult.

“When you apply with the federal government, it’s very detailed,” Aguiar said. “Mostly, it’s waiting.”

While Salihagic did arrange the internship, Aguiar helped with the academic aspects.

“I did help him sign up with the class portion,” Aguiar said. “He’s getting credits for the work he’s doing over there.”

Aguiar said that people of all majors and interests should apply for political science internships.

“You don’t have to be a political science major or anything like that,” he said. “They need people in all sorts of areas of expertise. ? Anybody can do this. It just takes a little bit of planning.”

Aguiar said that at the embassy, Salihagic is “doing real work.” Some of this work is not public information, but Salihagic did say that he has gotten to know Ambassador to Denmark Laurie Fulton, with whom he already had a connection.

Fulton earned degrees from the University of Nebraska and Georgetown University, but she was raised in Brookings and attended SDSU her freshman and sophomore years.

“She’s very proud of SDSU,” Salihagic said. “Even though she didn’t graduate here, she still says SDSU is her school.”

Salihagic plans to graduate by the summer of 2011. He said he wants to become a federal agent as soon as he is done with school.

“No challenge is too big,” Salihagic said. “You can do anything that you set your mind to.”