English is Marko Gospojevic’s second language, but he is so good at it that he talked his way into the presidency of UNC Pembroke’s Student Government Association (SGA).
The senior biology major promises to be a vocal advocate for students and for school pride.
“My vision for this year is filled with boisterous crowds at sporting events,” Marko said. “We want to see attendance for all sports go up, and we are planning some fun and games.”
The new SGA president would like to see more entertainment options for students, and he believes the return of football in 2007 will have a positive effect on campus life.
“Football unites students and communities,” Marko said. “There are no limits. It’s going to be fun.”
Marko dreams big dreams for SGA and UNCP. His family has big dreams too, about a better life in the U.S.
“Dreams, that is the beauty of America,” Marko said. “I returned to Serbia in 2002. The United Nations peacekeepers are still there. It is not good.”
Opportunity brought the Gospojevic family to Charlotte in 1998. In some ways, Marko’s heart is still in his native Yugoslavia, but he values the opportunities available in the U.S.
“If we had stayed, I’m not sure I would have been able to go to college,” he said. “Serbia is a reality check for me. The frustration there is oppressive.”
As a graduate of Myers Park High School, Marko had a world of college options, but he is glad he chose UNCP.
“I could have gone to the University of Belgrade or NC State or the U.K. (Britain), where I attended summer sessions,” Marko said. “I chose to come to UNCP because it’s small, and I could have great contacts with students and professors.”
Marko has made the most of his time in the U.S. and at UNCP. He said running for SGA president was a lesson in democracy.
“I got a real taste of democracy, and it really made me nervous,” he said. “Brock (Clinton, his vice presidential running mate) and I had a great campaign plan, and we worked really hard getting the word out.”
In fact, Marko and Clinton outworked and probably outsmarted the opposition.
“The rules said we could not put up posters until a day before the election, but they didn’t say anything about t-shirts,” he said.
The Gospojevic-Clinton ticket not only worked hard, they were creative too. Among other gimmicks, they constructed an old-fashioned sandwich board and worked the campus from end-to-end.
“We stayed up all night making posters and duct-taped them to the sidewalks throughout the campus at 5 a.m.,” he said. “Housekeeping took them all up at 7 a.m., so we had to make more posters and put them back.”
Marketing aside, Marko said being straightforward about the issues was key.
“We said what we were for,” he said. “We had a wonderful campaign.”
From hot water in the women’s residence halls to the rising cost of parking and textbooks, Marko’s platform touched a wide range of issues. If the record voter turnout for the spring election is any indication, the 2005-06 edition of the SGA will be an exciting one.
“We’re going to dream big,” Marko said. “I still want to see somebody in black and gold face paint.”