Memorial grad earns Petrovic Scholarship
Class of 2004 val gets award in memory of former Nets great killed in car crash
Barbara sort of mirrors what Drazen embodied. She has a great respect for her Croatian heritage.
How sensitive and kind and profound have been New Jersey Nets for not letting the name of late Drazen Petrovic be forgotten. It would be nice, to say the least, that we as a Croatian community, or/and government recognize that in a public way. There are many ways and one
doesn't exclude the other. Let's say that for one game of the season that is not selling well, we buy the rest of the unsold tickets and invite all our friends to attend the game with us. They may play some videos of Drazen in the half time ? Establish CROWN's "Honorary Croatian Award" and honor Mr. Dan McNeal?
What do you think? Let me know !
Editor in Chief
Reporter staff writer 08/22/2004
Barbara Korda recipient of the Drazen Petrovic Memorial Scholarship
SCHOLARSHIP AWARD - West New York resident Barbara Korda was named the recent recipient of the Drazen Petrovic Memorial Scholarship, in memory of the former New Jersey Nets All-Star, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1993.
While she was growing up in her native Croatia, Barbara Korda said that it was only natural to know who Drazen Petrovic was.
"He's a legend in our country," Korda said of Petrovic, the former New Jersey Nets All-Star guard who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in June, 1993. "Everyone knows who he is. I knew that he was a pretty big basketball star who did a lot of nice
things for people."
Korda also knew that the Nets had established a $10,000 scholarship in the memory of Petrovic.
The Drazen Petrovic Memorial Scholarship provides financial assistance to Croatian-American students who have graduated from New Jersey high schools and plan to attend four-year accredited colleges in the United States. The Nets established the scholarship as a lasting memorial to Petrovic after he lost his life in Germany.
The scholarship, payable over four years, is awarded annually to a deserving Croatian-American student who exhibits the same work ethic and will to succeed that made Petrovic such an intense competitor and unique symbol of Croatianspirit and pride.
"Of course, being Croatian, I knew of the scholarship," said Korda, who came to the United States and West New York six years ago, with the pursuit of a quality education in mind. "I knew of the scholarship, but I was reminded by the guidance counselors in school. I knew I had the credentials, but I figured it was the whole state of New Jersey and that's pretty big. I knew I had a chance to be a good candidate."
That's because Korda graduated from Memorial High School last June as the premier student in her graduating class. The valedictorian out of a class of 340 students, Korda already declared her intentions to attend Stevens Tech and study chemical engineering in the fall. Korda decided that she had nothing to lose and applied for the scholarship. She soon received a letter from the Nets and Devils Foundation, the group overseeing the selection process, that she was among six finalists for the scholarship. "When I got the letter that I was a finalist, I was in shock," Korda said. "I couldn't believe it." Korda was then asked to attend an exclusive interviewing session with the members of the Petrovic Scholarship committee. "I thought the interview went great," Korda said.
"She's a wonderful young woman," said Dan McNeal, the programming grants manager for the Nets and Devils Foundation. "First and foremost, you could see right away that she was a remarkable student. For her to be able to come here to the United States and to be able to speak as well as she does is remarkable. Then, everything she has been able to attain in her academics. It's quite an accomplishment."
McNeal, who served on the four-member selection committee, was impressed with Korda's presentation in the interview process. "She had a good idea of what she wanted to do with her life and her education," McNeal said. "You could tell that she had a very bright
future ahead of her. That's what the Petrovic Scholarship is all about, to remember the life of Drazen Petrovic and what he was able to accomplish. Barbara sort of mirrors what Drazen embodied. She has a great respect for her Croatian heritage."
With that, the foundation presented Korda with the scholarship that will help defray the costs of her Stevens Tech education over the next four years.
"When Mr. McNeal called me and told me that I got it, I was so excited," Korda said. "I asked him if he had called the right number. It's going to be a big help for me in going to college. My father is not working right now and my mother is working for a medical insurance company, so it will come in handy. It's such an honor for me to receive the scholarship."
While there might be similarities in the personalities of the late Petrovic and young Korda, there is one major difference. "I don't exactly play basketball," Korda said. "At least I'm tall, so I have that. And I like to watch basketball. The interviewers all asked me the same question, whether I played."
But she does have an appreciation for what Petrovic meant to the Croatian community and finally to the Nets. "From what I hear, he was a great guy," Korda said of Petrovic. "Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet him or see him play, but I'm definitely grateful for what he did for everyone."
Korda said that she hopes to become a doctor some day. "I'm majoring in chemical engineering with the dream of becoming a doctor," Korda said. "Everyone takes the biology path to get to
medical school. That's old. I'm going this way. I can't wait to start school. It's going to be a big thrill." Korda vividly recalls coming to the United States six years ago. "I was excited, nervous, anxious, all of that," Korda said. "My family came here out of the blue. We didn't have family here. They came here to give me and my sister [Tjasa, a student at St. Peter's College] a better education." And is she appreciative?
"You don't have to remind me," Korda said. "My parents tell me every day that they came to this country for me. But I'm happy we did."
ŠThe Hudson Reporter 2004