Imagine being surrounded in a giant plastic bubble, tumbling down a steep hill. The muffled sound of cheers as the bubble’s velocity increases as it is sent airborne; adrenaline rushing, heartbeat intensifying with the yells of personal liberation. This is just a small portion of the adventurous life of Eastern Michigan University staff member Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija.
A dedicated individual who is community-oriented and thrives on making a difference by bringing people together, Camo-Biogradlija, 27, serves as the program coordinator for VISION, the Volunteer Center in the Department of Diversity & Communication Involvement. She’s also currently working toward completing her doctorate program.
Her introduction to EMU was simply by fate, when she came to the campus as an AmeriCorps member, helping provide grants to national non-profit groups including higher education institutes.
“I came here as an AmeriCorps member in 2006. I didn’t do my undergrad [program] here, but I really loved it when I came here. So fortunately I had the opportunity to stay on as a staff member,” Camo-Biogradlija said. “Then I feel that being a staff member and a student at an institution helps to understand from all angles; the service-providing angle and from the student perspective that interacts with that service.”
With her duties with VISION, she has been involved with programs such as America Reads, Best Buddies and GREEN, as well as serving as an advisor for the MLK committee. With many conflicts that exist in the world, any opportunity to strengthen a community helps to shape and broaden those involved in making an impact is what matters.
“I tend to be really drawn to any kind of committee or work that promotes the idea of community. And that tries to build and
strengthens that community, so that’s one of the reasons why I really like VISION,” she said.
TEDxEMU was another positive outlet to showcase her mission of redefining what community means and educating others to look at the world around them differently. The event also enlightened her with the knowledge that students and staff members shared with their liberating ideas and stories.
“I was so proud of Eastern for being able to think outside the box in that way. It gives voice to a lot of people on campus and gives everyone an opportunity to share something,” she said. “I try to urge students to look at their community two ways. Not just the concept that Ypsilanti is their community that you should be involved in, but to create a community within ourselves.”
Camo-Biogradlija radiates with enthusiasm and charm while discussing all she has contributed to EMU. Underneath that hardworking mentality is an eclectic, adventurous individual who is free-spirited and bravely takes on the world.
She is also strongly connected to her Bosnian heritage. Whether teaching choir to the children of her culture or doing Bosnian folk dancing, she’s proud of who she is and where she comes from. It’s an admirable factor about her character and attitude.
“My family is from Bosnia, so there’s a pretty large population of Bosnians in the Metro Detroit area. I try to be active in that community as much as possible.”
Camo-Biogradlija has an array of interests and quirks that contrast, but mesh well together, making her quite a unique person. Her love for Puerto Rican rap group Calle 13 and being a huge fan of the TV series “The Wire” educated her on the reality of the world from the perspective of the urban community.
She enjoys reading, gardening and cooking, a passion she was able to share with her VISION colleagues on campus.
“GREEN hosted a pot-luck for the Eco Justice Conference in Porter. I was super pumped! So I’m like ‘Great. I’ll make a mean soup, I’ll make salad, I’ll do all those things,’ so it was one way that I could contribute.”
At heart, she’s a fun daredevil (with the scars to prove it), just as long as the activity is leveled but intense. During her trip to Nicaragua with friends, she went volcano boarding. Yes, boarding down an actual volcano.
“I definitely got stuck like halfway down. It took me a really long time to finish it all,” she said with a giggle. “If I could stay on the ground but do something intense, I’m all about it.”
One surprisingly tame activity she’d love to experience is riding in a hot air balloon, but of course she’d also like to do the amazingly epic and intense activity that is Zorbing. Basically it’s a crazy combination of Sonic the Hedgehog meets Bubble Boy all in one gigantic bubble and she’s dying to try it.
“It’s insane. They have it in Holland, Michigan,” she said. “They put you inside of this bubble ball and they send you down a hill and you’re just twirling.”
Camo-Biogradlija is a genuine people-person who completely approaches every opportunity with motivation and heart. Her
outlook on life is refreshing and simply reminds you not to forget where you come from. Her philosophy, “I can’t change the world but I can change the world in me,” is a message that she openly celebrates with her job and personal life.
“In my life, I just kind of done what feels right and wanted to see where that lands me. I’ve done okay so far, I think I’m happy where I am at. So I’ll just keep playing it that way and see what comes up next.”