Photo: Ana Lazarevic
Two Paths, One Dream
Through love and pure grit, international graduates advance toward citizenship
by Paula Cogan Myers

In August 2018, Gabrijela Andric ’13 and Akmal Daniyarov ’12, M’14 will celebrate their wedding at Bucknell, a place they call home. While every story of couples who have met on campus is special, there are few that seem as improbable as this one — a European girl from Bosnia and Herzegovina and a Central Asian boy from Uzbekistan, growing up more than 2,000 miles apart, chose paths that led them to Bucknell and each other.

Growing up in a land wracked by war and economic crisis, Andric never imagined studying abroad. Daniyarov was equally skeptical. “My mom and dad were always dreaming about me studying abroad, and so was I,” says Daniyarov. “We would look at the cost, and it would quickly become unreal.”

Long before their paths would cross, they learned about the United World College (UWC) program, which invites students from around the world to apply to attend a UWC school for two years to complete a college- preparatory curriculum and learn about global leadership, intercultural understanding and sustainability. Competition is fierce, and neither Andric nor Daniyarov expected to be chosen. Making the cut changed their lives.

After spending two years at different UWC colleges, both were admitted to Bucknell, but Daniyarov arrived a year before Andric. The next year, he greeted the new international arrivals, one of whom was Andric.

Get Your American Dream Score

In pursing the American Dream, it helps to have certain advantages in life, many of which are beyond your immediate control. Like good parents. Or good health. Or attending good schools.

In the Public Broadcasting Service series Chasing the Dream, readers are invited to take a quiz that asks about their paths in life, including disadvantages they have overcome.

The lower the score, the more of a head start you got, and the closer you are to reaching the American Dream. And just for fun, your quiz results include a suggested soundtrack for your life.

Your intrepid investigating author got a score of 53 out of 100, which prompted the following assessment: “You’ve had so much working for you and only a few things holding you back.” Suggested soundtrack: rocker Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good.”

– Matt Zencey

“I remember Akmal when I was coming off the bus from New York,” she recalls. “He kind of stood out. We started hanging out right away during International Orientation.” Two years later, they began dating.

Daniyarov, a geotechnical and tunneling engineer, and Adric, a business analyst, spent the first year after her graduation separated due to work and visa issues. She is now a senior consultant at Ventera, and Daniyarov is an engineer for Jacobs CH2M. They live in Virginia, and both were recently awarded green cards, making them permanent U.S. residents.

“We feel like our American Dream is finally looking like reality,” says Daniyarov. “After challenging interviews, mountains of paperwork and tons of stress, we feel secure and on our way to becoming the citizens that love
this country.”