Alumni Success

Meet Anela Zorlak

April 15th, 2024

Meet Anela Zorlak, a young scientist and a former Bosana student, whose journey embodies resilience and bravery, carving a lasting legacy in her domain.

Anela's fascination with science sprouted during her formative high school years:

"Like any young individual, I explored various interests during those crucial years. It was in my sophomore year of high school that I gravitated towards the natural sciences. The continuous pursuit of knowledge in these fields truly intrigued me," she fondly recalled.

Although genetics wasn't initially at the forefront of her interests, Anela's trajectory took a significant turn upon her introduction to the subject:

"Initially, genetics wasn't on my radar. However, during my high school days, my solid grasp of chemistry and physics, coupled with extensive reading, lured me into the world of genetic research. The concept of 'totipotency' particularly captivated me, igniting my curiosity for further exploration," she elaborated.

The pivotal moment came when Anela expressed her desire to base her high school thesis on genetic engineering:

"My biology teacher was surprised, considering the field was still in its infancy with limited resources available. Nonetheless, I defended my thesis on genetic engineering, marking the inception of my journey," she recounted with a smile.

Anela draws inspiration from individuals driven by a deeper purpose in their pursuit of science:

"Attending my initial scientific conferences was a revelation. The passion and dedication of those in the scientific community were palpable. In our region, where financial incentives for scientific endeavors are scarce, it's the quest for knowledge that propels individuals forward, aiming to positively impact lives," she shared warmly.

Beyond her scientific counterparts, Anela finds inspiration in simplicity and authenticity:

"I've always been drawn to individuals who achieve significant milestones while remaining humble. Their grounded nature serves as a constant reminder for me, even amidst personal triumphs," she reflected with gratitude.

Anela credits her family and Bosana Foundation for shaping her into the person she is today:

"My family has been my rock, providing unwavering support and guidance, as well as Bosana Foundation. Genetics and family intertwine to define who I am. I owe a great deal of my motivation to their unwavering belief in me," she expressed with heartfelt appreciation.

Following her studies at the University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Science, Anela pursued further education at Harvard Medical School, specializing in human genetics and genetic testing. This paved the way for her to establish "Genetika," Bosnia and Herzegovina's inaugural genetic counseling center.

"At Genetika, our focus lies in human genetics, particularly in oncology. Genetic testing plays a pivotal role in determining the hereditary nature of certain cancers, enabling personalized therapies and preventive measures," she emphasized with passion.

Anela's collaboration with a genetic center in New York stemmed from a simple email inquiry:

"After reaching out to a genetic center in New York, I received a prompt response, leading to my role as a consultant specializing in genetic counseling," she explained with enthusiasm.

Despite encountering challenges and lacking support from societal and institutional frameworks, Anela remains undeterred:

"Obstacles are part of the journey, but I choose to focus on what I can do. I aspire to be a catalyst for change, even if progress is gradual. It's imperative for young people to be the agents of change, albeit challenging without systemic support," she acknowledged with resilience.

Anela believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina's awareness of the significance of science is lacking:

"Our educational system requires reform. There's a dearth of scientific literacy, academic discourse, and critical thinking. Educators should serve as mentors, inspiring young minds to delve deeper into the realm of science. Knowledge should be about application, not mere memorization," she asserted with conviction.

Despite the hurdles, Anela's journey stands as a beacon of inspiration for students aspiring to pursue careers in science. In a world where science is indispensable, trailblazers like Anela play a pivotal role in driving progress and innovation.

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