A Purpose Rekindled

Nika Juricic left her homeland of Croatia to pursue her potential and to contribute to the world. At mbu, her lifelong ambition to make a difference with science is on the cusp of becoming true.

For Nika Juricic, the question isn’t if she will change the world. It’s just a question of how.

The senior biotechnology student is already working on research with St. Louis University to stop a fungus— Cryptococcus neoformans—from causing the deaths of approximately 600,000 people who are positive for HIV. When not in the labs or studying for a biochemistry test, Juricic is known for playing a mean game of tennis.

It’s tennis that brought Juricic to MBU anyway.

In the Mediterranean land of Croatia, Juricic’s homeland is far from the St. Louis heartland. There, Juricic attended the nation’s top schools in math and science but knew that she needed to continue her education in the United States in order to succeed.

In the United States, Juricic discovered that she was a natural in tennis in addition to math and science. Her skills helped support her financially as she bounced between two colleges in California and Texas. Then she met former MBU tennis coach Marty Tanner.

Juricic instantly felt a connection with the University.

“To MBU, I wasn’t just a sports machine,” said Juricic. “They cared and treated me as a person, unlike any other school I experienced.”

Once at MBU, Juricic continued her studies in business, but after meeting with Professor of Biology Dr. Lydia Thebeau, Juricic realized she could actually follow her calling to study science and play tennis at the same time.

Juricic continued her success on the court and once again proved her natural aptitude for science, but it was far from easy. Her teammates were a mountain of support, and academics was always a priority. Unsurprisingly, the team was named the 2014-2015 NAIA Scholar Team of the year.

The culture of motivation and hard work of the science department kept Juricic going, even during the hardest of classes.

“My professors pushed us in the classroom, but they would always open their doors and hearts to help us succeed,” said Juricic.

The comradery of her classmates pushed Juricic to never let herself settle for less than she could give.

“The science department is incredibly close and motivated—they are driven to a level that I have never seen before,” said Juricic. “There is an energy here that propels us to an elevated level of excellence.”

After graduating this year, Juricic plans on pursuing a Ph.D. to continue research on worthy projects. What these projects are is still in question, but a consistent feeling never fades.

“I have this strong belief that I am capable and meant to contribute to the field of science,” said Juricic. “I am not sure what it will be; but I will make a difference.”