Enkelejda Bashllari came to the United States as an exchange student on an academic program when she was seventeen. Now, the Albania native is in the city of New York furthering her education. “Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the Columbia University Medical Center studying for a very inter-disclipinary program in Cellular, Molecular, and Biophysics. I do Biomedical research and I am on a full scholarship to attend Columbia University.”
The field of science has always interest Enkelejda. The twenty-five year old says her major gives her a sense of satisfaction to be learning so much about it. “Biomedical research makes me feel intellectually satisfied. It challenges me, perplexes me, but at the end of the day it makes me fulfilled,” she says. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. This is in addition to the fact that I have always had an interest in Science. I have always been very curious since I was very young,” she says.
“I think my parents, especially my father based on my questions at a very early age about how things worked felt that his daughter was going to be a scientist.”
Working with prominent leaders also has been rewarding. “Columbia University is a very good institution and has a collaborative environment and for the program that I study it is one of the best in the world,” she says.
“Here we have two noble prize winners for medicine, Dr. Kandel and Dr. Axel and many other very prominent scientific leaders in the community such as the person that I work with right now, Dr. Oliver Hobert.”
Enkelejda says international students as well as scholars attending Columbia play a big part in the community. “Well, Columbia University is a very international community and it brings together some of the most amazing people from all over the world. I have met here amazing students which have done so much with their life and have so much to talk about and tell about and they come from so many different countries,” she says.
“Right now some of my closest friends, one is from Tokyo, Japan and I never thought that one of the people that is closest to me would come from a culture that is so different from mine," she says.
"Also, I met several people from southern India. So, I think that is definitely Columbia’s greatest thing, its international community that it offers. You meet so many people with so many diverse backgrounds in this community of great scholars.”
This is Enkelejda's third year in her PhD program. She says once she is finish she is willing to work anywhere and will probably be doing some kind of research. “I think I would like to see myself doing some kind of research and I think that is what is going to happen is that I am going to be doing research, I don’t know in which kind of environment if it is going to be academia or industrial or maybe if … I am interested in also international because of my background and because I have had so many experiences in different countries I am also very interested in international policy of research,” she says. “How policies are made. That is also an interest of mine.”
Her advice to others interested in attending college in the United States is..”Things are not good or bad. They are just different. So I think that is the best advice that I can give to the coming international students who are coming to the United States,” she says.
“It is a very different society. It is a very different culture and they should not judge based on their ideas on their previous definition of (I don’t know) morality or just because things are different therefore they are bad, no that is not the case. It is not good or it is not bad. It is just different. So I think that is very important.”