Blerina Cenaj, a 22-year-old woman from Albania, never dreamed she would graduate from an American college this spring and be on her way to becoming a doctor. With the support of Charles and Julie Plunkett, owners of Artistic Builders Inc. and Capco Steel Inc., she’s already well on her way.
Having been in the United States for only six years, Cenaj’s parents moved to the United States so their two children could receive a good education. She helped fulfill that dream by enrolling at Trinity University is a 140-year-old private university in San Antonio, Texas. Cenaj graduated this month with 160 credit hours and a 3.4 GPA, and is preparing to take the MCAT (medical college admission test) next month. She plans to take a year off from school to do missionary medical work in Peru.
Cenaj began school in the United States as a high school junior. While there, she befriended a German exchange student being hosted by the Plunketts, who took Cenaj under their wing when she embarked on her university search. Though she graduated high school with a 4.0 average, she was concerned about affording college and wished to stay close to her parents, who struggle with the language barrier.
Julie took Cenaj to several open houses and arranged a meeting with Eric Maloof, Trinity’s International Dean of Students, who encouraged Cenaj to apply for a Manchurian Scholarship. She was ultimately granted four years of tuition, and entered a work-study program to cover room and board.
“Blerina is one of those shining lights that comes into your life,” said Julie. “I was so happy to be able to help her and guide her to such an incredible opportunity. What a joy to see her walk across that stage, knowing what she and her family have been through to make that happen.”