Meet the 2021/2022 RGPP Cohort:
Born in Bulgaria, Dimitar Dimitrov graduated from College of Tourism in Varna with a B.A. degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Thanks to his active participation in various academic events, he was made Student of the Year in 2021 in addition to participating in student research sessions with ranked papers. His professional experience is mainly in the field of tourism. Dimitar’s devotion to helping people can be seen in his volunteer work at the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance Amalipe, the Youth Foundation Arete and at the local community center in his native town, where he contributes to the development of the Roma by motivating students toward greater success in school and the continuation of their education at university.
Dimitar is an RGPP student and during the year he takes tutorial classes in Economics. As an M.A. student, Dimitar wishes to continue his studies at CEU in Faculty of Business and Economics. After completing his M.A. studies, Dimitar dreams of contributing to the development of Roma and being a good role model in his community. His wishes to provide better opportunities and access to quality education through his own Roma NGO and to operate his own business as a successful hotelier and restauranteur.
Stelina Dungaj graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tirana, Albania. During her studies, Stelina contributed to different NGOs focusing on different services, such proving education and summer camps for students. She has also been working as a local coordinator at the “Walk in My Shoes” NGO for a children’s program that targets educational gaps resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Stelina has also worked as a translator for NGOs focusing on women.
Currently, Stelina is an RGPP student, and she hopes to earn an M.A. degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology. Her interests are in social science, cultural, and youth issues. Her future goal is to establish her own organization with a focus on the education of youth and women who face many cultural, financial, and social challenges. Stelina will accomplish her academic dreams not only by studying, but also by, as she expresses herself, working hard everywhere and anywhere.
After attaining a master’s degree in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania, Daniela Baçe has persistently devoted her hard work to collaborating with people from different international cultures. As a part of this effort, she has cooperated with Roma NGOs in Albania while participating in several international and national trainings and conducting research on the education of Roma Youth. Daniela has meanwhile worked as an architect at construction sites in her hometown.
By focusing on Cultural Heritage and Human Rights, Daniela has extended her interests to the community of RGPP at Central European University, where takes tutorial classes in History and Cultural Heritage. Daniela views RGPP as a bridge toward achieving her goals of improving her academic English and preparing herself for further studies as an M.A. student in Cultural Heritage, CEU. RGPP is an opportunity for Daniela to challenge herself while exploring ways to preserve Roma culture.
Elmas Kockun completed her B.A. degree in History, and she wrote her M.A. thesis on Roma History. In her analysis, she examined the historical situation of Muslim Roma who were forced to migrate during the 1923 population exchange between Turkey and Greece.
Elmas has been active in the field of human rights since beginning university. Elmas, who started her second year in the field of Roma rights, has since worked as a mentor in various civil societies and scholarship projects. Currently, she is actively chairing the civil society platform called Neve Terne Roma and is also one of the managers of Roman Medya. Elmas additionally worked in a child and youth center serving the disadvantaged areas of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality for two years before joining the RGPP community at CEU.
As a part of RGPP, Elmas aims to broaden her interests in Roma history by expanding her knowledge to fields in other social sciences. She will continue to work toward the goal of furthering access to education for Roma women while improving her English and academic skills as a foundation for her future studies.
From a Roma family in Slovakia, Tomas Sarkozi learnt from his grandmother about the importance of education. Nobody else believed in him and in his goals because he is only “Roma.” He never gave up and he graduated in psychology at the highest-ranking university in Slovakia. He has now entered a new challenge in his life by joining RGPP at CEU and continuing his studies in another country and language. Tomas has always aimed to explore Western countries and views CEU as the perfect opportunity for achieving his goals. With his ambitions and knowledge of the human psyche, he wants to have an impact on the unfair situation of people who were not born among privileged circumstances. To this end, he will expand his knowledge to the field of public policy. In the future, he plans to create a company which will serve as many people as possible by providing low-cost housing for people from disadvantaged groups. This goal is a great vision that demands many small steps, some of which he is already taking. Tomas believes that with hard work and consistency his goal will be impossible to miss.
Tunay Tokmak attained a B.A. degree in International Logistics Management before continuing her studies in Industrial Engineering at Yasar University, Turkey. For her senior design project, she specialized in the field of vehicle scheduling and vehicle routing issues. Since 2016, Tunay has been a member of the Roma Culture Benevolence and Solidarity Association and has taken an active role in aid campaigns and social events organized for the purpose of raising awareness.
Tunay now is an RGPP student with the aim of improving her language and math competences in order to apply for an MS in Business Analytics. Tunay’s goal is to work in either the finance or digital marketing sector while contributing to the Roma community by supporting Roma youth and their participation in the digital business world.
Anila Harapi graduated in Public Relations and Communications from the European University of Tirana, Albania, before completing an MA in Children and Family Issues at the Social Science Faculty of Tirana. As she developed herself academically, Anila was both a volunteer and employee of main Roma NGOs in Albania, such as Roma Union Ämaro-Drom, the Romani Baxt Organization, and the Institute of Romani Culture in Albania, where Anila addressed issues related to Education, Discrimination, and Housing and Children. Over the years she has fought to protect minority rights while increasing the voice for Roma Youth. Anila has contributed to institutions and organizations in Albania such as the Soros Foundations in Albania, OSCE/ODIHR, the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Institution, UNDP in Albania, Save the Children, Amaro-Drom Union in Albania, World Vision in Albania, and Kosovo. Throughout her years of experience, Anila has gained an in-depth knowledge of social issues affecting children and expertise in the field of child protection.
Currently, she has joined the RGPP cohort with the aim of continuing her studies at CEU by completing an MA degree in Gender Studies. Anila’s main future goal is to possess the professional skills and network needed to establish a social centre that will help and address issues affecting children in Albania.
Rayna Emilova holds a B.A. degree in Bulgarian Philology attained at Sofia University, St. Kliment Ohridski in Bulgaria. She additionally possesses a teachers’ qualification in Literature and Bulgarian Language. Beyond her academic accomplishments, Rayna has gained experience as a volunteer for several Roma NGOs. Between 2019 and 2020, she also mentored Roma youth and five years ago she was a member of the children’s council at the State Agency for Child Protection.
Rayna’s interests range from History and Cultural Heritage to Literature, Linguistics, and different educational methods for young people. By joining the RGPP cohort in September 2021, she aims to become an M.A. student at CEU in the field of Cultural Heritage. More specifically, she wishes to explore Roma cultural heritage and the role of women in Roma society and traditions. Rayna has become an RGPP student to develop her qualities and critical thinking skills as well as meet more educated young people who are also eager to expand their horizons.
Elvira Popenko is a lawyer and a Roma activist.Elvira comes from the small, but beautiful city of Chernihiv, Ukraine. In 2021, Elvira graduated from the Faculty of Law at Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic University, one of the best universities in the country. She had already had the opportunity to work in legal offices and at state institutions, such as the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. Elvira has additionally founded and participated in many projects targeting the legal education of the Roma community.
While following her dream of providing legal aid for both Roma and non-Roma, she has joined the RGPP cohort of Central European University in order to improve her English and advance her legal skills within the field of Human Rights. In the future, Elvira aims to continue her academic development at CEU’s Faculty of Law in Human Rights.
Fatlum Kryezi obtained his B.A. in Social Sciences from the Department of Sociology at the University of Pristina, Kosovo. Through his volunteer and professional work, he has developed a deep-seated desire for social inclusion and justice as well as a commitment to social equality and peace. Since 2014, he has been engaged with NGOs and started his official engagement as a mediator and project coordinator in 2016. As of March 2018, the new Board of the Center for Research, Documentation, Publication and Community Advocacy appointed Fatlum as a Team Leader. His future career goal is to advocate for human rights and for a country that provides equal rights and possibilities for everyone in Kosovo.
As a creative researcher in sociology and policy analyst with solid experience in various civil society organizations in Kosovo, Fatlum has joined the RGPP cohort at CEU to focus on Human Rights, Political Economy, and Public Policy in a way that combines art and culture. During his M.A. studies, Fatlum wants to deepen his knowledge of the social sciences, sociology, and social anthropology while using art to promote the diverse culture of the Roma community.
Valeria Redjepagic is a 23-year-old Roma who was born and raised in Sweden. In addition to her studies, Valeria is a member of a reference group at the Government Offices in Sweden for the work on the strategy for Roma inclusion. Her desire is to be able to make young Roma voices heard in decision-making processes and the formation of policies. Valeria’s goal is to ensure that young Roma have the possibility to influence the Roma Inclusion Strategy in Sweden.
After completing a bachelor's degree in Political Science, Valeria is now striving to become an M.A. student at Central European University. While studying at RGPP, she will improve her academic English and create a more extensive network of like-minded people for the purpose of attaining an intra-national level of change for Roma. Last but not least, Valeria is a curious person who gladly enters into dialogue with a variety of people who express different viewpoint.