In 1994, when she was 2, Lewis and Clark High School senior Hana Alicic emigrated from Bosnia with her family. Though she doesn’t remember the war and campaign of ethnic cleansing that prompted her family to flee, that background and subsequent visits to Bosnia have given her a deep commitment to tolerance.
“When I became old enough to know what caused the war, it made me aware of bigotry,” she said. “I get along with all different types of people. I like diversity. I appreciate people who are a little bit different.”
It’s an open-mindedness Alicic wouldn’t have experienced herself in Bosnia. “We have families in each ethnic group,” explained her dad, Admir Alicic. “When there is talk about ethnic purity, it is time to run. My child wouldn’t be welcome on either side. It was terrible.”
Alicic’s own demeanor is a sharp contrast to that past. She is open, friendly and enjoys hearing different perspectives on many issues. “I like classroom discussions and hearing different people’s experiences,” she said, noting that she’s looking forward to the exchange of ideas when she attends the University of Washington to study neurobiology in the Honors College.
Eventually, she hopes to become a doctor like her mother and grandmother, but said she’d first like to join the Peace Corps. “I want to throw myself into something. I want to do something more intensive and long-term,” she said.
Of course, Alicic is already known as someone who throws herself into her endeavors.
Advanced Placement biology teacher Daniel Corr described Alicic as inquisitive, hard-working, well-prepared and a wonderful classroom contributor. “She always had a question, always drove the discussion. That, for a teacher, is extremely motivating for me and for the class. The classes she’s in benefit,” he said, adding that Alicic even earned a perfect score on one of his notoriously difficult AP biology tests. “That only happens once every 10 years or so.”
According to Alicic’s parents, she’s had this internal drive since she was small. Her mom, Radica Alicic, recalled when Hana asked to play the flute. Though many find it difficult to produce sound out of the instrument, on her first day Hana sat at the kitchen table blowing into the mouthpiece until she succeeded. That perseverance continued as she studied the instrument, working hard to perfect pieces even after her parents thought they sounded lovely. Last year she was honored when she won adjudicator’s choice at MusicFest.
In another example, Admir recalled the time Hana was about 9 and came home crying because she’d been chosen last for something sports related. Soon after that she asked to try karate. “We thought it would be an interest that would last a couple of years,” he said, laughing. But Alicic continued karate, earned her brown belt and will test for her black belt this summer.
Alicic said she enjoys how karate is an individual sport that also enables you to interact with others in a team environment, and she finds it relaxing to practice.
From participating in karate, band and the school’s varsity knowledge bowl team, to volunteering at Deaconess Medical Center and with the National Honor Society, Alicic is known as a student who gives her best. Though that naturally makes them proud, her parents said it’s her friendliness, tolerance and beautiful spirit that please them most.
“She is very considerate about and understands the needs of others and listens,” Radica said. “She doesn’t forget others. If someone needs help she will be there. If there is someone weak she will help.”
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