Posted at 1 p.m. April 4, 2017

Albanian student working to make difference back home

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Imagine going to school in another country, where the culture, values and everything else for that matter, are much different compared to your home — imagine not knowing a soul, speaking a different language than everyone else around you and living with new people.

Laramie County Community College sophomore Parid Shkoza knows exactly what that is like. Shkoza grew up in Albania, where life is much different than life in the U.S. Shkoza was born on Nov. 23, 1994 in Vau i Dejës, Albania, a small village.

“I lived in Albania for 20 years,” Shkoza said. “I graduated from the high school in my hometown and then went to college for six months in the capital, Tirana, Albania.”

Shkoza started looking for options to study abroad after his negative experience with the

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Parid Shkoza

Cody Fox

Albanian educational system. Someone who wants to study abroad must pass a language test for the country they wish to study in.

“I had to pass the English exam called Test of English as a Foreign Language,” Shkoza said. “I took the exam and passed with a high score. After that, I had to apply for a student visa from the American Embassy.”

He credits his English-speaking skills to his host sister, Erin Doak. Doak was in Albania volunteering for the Peace Corps, Shkoza met her because she was going to rent his uncle’s apartment.

“I decided to go and meet her (Doak),” Shkoza said. “I used my broken English to invite her to dinner with my family. She said yes, came to dinner and an amazing friendship began; she became part of the family.”

In May 2014, Cherie Doak, Erin’s mother, went to Albania to visit Erin, where she met Shkoza and his family. Shkoza told Doak about his dream to pursue his education in the U.S. She decided to take Shkoza in.

Shkoza began planning everything he would have to do in order to come to school in the U.S. He would end up having to do quite a few tasks to come to school at LCCC.

Shkoza said he had to prove to the U.S. Embassy that he had financial support to pay for college, that he was living in the U.S. and that he would return to Albania after he is finished with his education in the U.S.

“The whole process from learning English to receiving my student visa was almost two years,” Shkoza said.

Shkoza was granted his student visa, so he was able to apply to LCCC.

Shkoza was accepted to LCCC in August 2014 and he received his student visa in December 2014.

“I have been a student for almost two and half years,” Shkoza said. “LCCC has been a great community for me and I could not have asked for a better place to live for my college experience.”

Shkoza said the first four months were the hardest because he was worried that people wouldn’t accept him.

“The faculty has been very hospitable,” Shkoza said. “I have made more friends than I thought I would before I came here.”

“The radiography program is one of the most competitive programs offered by LCCC,” Shkoza said.

Shkoza came to LCCC with no prior knowledge about the American educational system. He credits his host family, his advisers and every other service provided by LCCC, for being able to figure out what classes he needed to take and how he could be successful at LCCC.

In order for Shkoza to qualify for the radiography program, he needed to have a good GPA, shadow at a radiography site for eight hours, answer interview questions about his personal and professional life and provide references.

“The day I received my acceptance letter was one of the best days of my life,” Shkoza said. “I really felt that I had achieved what I came here for.”

Shkoza enjoys being a part of the radiography program and has a passion to become a radiologic technologist.

“Albania needs radiologic technologists more than any other medical profession,” Shkoza said. “Being able to get trained in one of the best education systems in the whole world is going to help prepare me to help my country.”

Shkoza is very thankful for his instructors, they’re his inspiration.

“My instructors will help me to become a professional, helpful, skilled, future Rad Tech,” Shkozasaid.

Shkoza says that he misses home often, but he Skypes his mom and brother almost every day.

“Family is very important in Albania,” Shkoza said. “I get homesick and words can’t explain how hard it is to deal with that at times. Knowing that my family is proud of me makes me stronger.”


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