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Mizar Turdiu
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Mizar Turdiu

Her father’s inspirational life story propelled Mizar Turdiu to pursue a career in journalism, where she made waves as an anchor and radio talk-show host.

Mizar Turdiu could not be the Albanian American she is today without the influence of her father, Ramazan Turdiu. Ramazan fought for his beloved countrymen in Kosova before fleeing from certain execution in 1944. While exiled in Italy for twelve years, he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Bologna, got married, and moved to the United States with his young wife. In the…

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Dr. Lydra Tapija
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Dr. Lydra Tapija

Tapija embarked on a journey to dental medicine with passion, and succeeded because of her perseverance. 

Dr. Lydra Tapija’s story in the United States started the morning of September 17, 2000. She hugged her parents and told them not to worry, because she would never disappoint them. She had made the biggest and hardest decision of her life by leaving her native country for a faraway land. After a long flight filled with her son’s cries, Tapija found herself in the Big Apple. She was young, energetic, and determined to become a…

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Besa Tafilaj Pinchotti
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Besa Tafilaj Pinchotti

Broadcast journalist and professional communicator who has covered everything from post-war Kosova and military deployments to hurricanes and parenting.  

When Besa Tafilaj Pinchotti earned her Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, she immediately went to work as a news anchor and reporter for an NBC affiliate in Texas, covering everything from September 11 to local crime and political issues. She also traveled to Kosova for a series on life after the war. Pinchotti eventually moved on to work at an ABC station in North Carolina, where she reported…

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Donald Suxho
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Donald Suxho

The Olympic Albanian American volleyball player who scores for Team USA is now aiming at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  

Donald Suxho was born and raised in Korçë, Albania, under a Communist regime, where reaching for one’s dreams seemed impossible. “The Communist regime had put such a low ceiling on our lives, that all we strived for was to be common and good people,” Suxho remembers. But that did not stop Suxho from aiming higher. Despite his limitations, he started playing soccer at 9 years old…

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Gregory R. Steffon
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Gregory R. Steffon

As AIG’s Business Development Director for the Northeast region, Steffon cites his Albanian pride as the source of his success. 

Gregory Steffon was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, but grew up in its suburb, Auburn. He lived in a lower-middle class neighborhood, where most families lived paycheck to paycheck. Nobody had much money. “For summer fun, we splashed each other with the hose or sprinkler, and our vacations would be to go to Cape Cod for a week, if we were lucky,” Steffon says. “I really grew up as the typical American, participating in…

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Albert Stanaj
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Albert Stanaj

Albanians living in Malesia, Albert Stanaj’s parents  immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and settled in Detroit, Michigan, in search of better life. Stanaj is inspired by his parents and has visited their birthplace many times over the years. He feels grateful for their journey and for the opportunity he has had to be raised in the United Stated, where he can pursue his career in music.

Stanaj has always been drawn by the arts and performing, whether it’s singing or acting, and has earned accolades in the field. In 2012,…

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The Sinanaj Brothers
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The Sinanaj Brothers

The Sinanaj brothers — Jack, Jeff and Russ — hail from the well-known Albanian region of Plave-Guci. They left behind their extended family and their centuries-old stone farmhouse to embark on a journey to the United States, for a better life for them and their families.

The inspiration that leads them to strive forward, work hard and be honest comes naturally from their parents, particularly from their father Sinan Sinanaj. “Life back home was difficult, and even more difficult for Albanians in the former Yugoslavia. Despite it all, our father chose to work…

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Nicola Shreli
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Nicola Shreli

The Detroitraised Albanian filmmaker is making noise and making  it happen.

Nickola Shreli was never particularly interested in science or math as a student at Eisenhower High School in Detroit, Michigan, but the one subject he flourished in year after year was theater. How he would make his love of the hobby a full-time reality upon graduating,    he did not know. With parents who had immigrated to Michigan in the 1970s in search of a better life, and who had struggled to find work in the then-booming auto industry, Shreli learned…

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Suzanna Shkreli
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Suzanna Shkreli

Suzanna and her siblings achieved the ultimate success as lawyers by practicing in their respective fields of law, as well as establishing the first Albanian American Bar Association in Michigan.

Suzanna Shkreli is the daughter of Zef and Maria Shkreli, originally from Ulqin and Grude, who immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. Suzanna is one of four children, with an older sister Diana, a twin brother Paul, and a younger brother, Mark. As firstgeneration Albanian Americans, the siblings were constantly encouraged by their parents to earn an…

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Frank Shkreli
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Frank Shkreli

From early life in refugee camps, to the coveted role as director of an international broadcast agency, Shkreli’s career boomed.

Frank Shkreli was born near Ulqin, Montenegro, though his family is originally from the region of Shkreli, north of Shkodër, Albania. He attended elementary school in Kodërkollë, near Ulqin, and later, high school at a Salesian Catholic seminary in Croatia. He and his family escaped Communist Yugoslavia in 1969, and after living in refugee camps throughout Italy for more than a year, they arrived in the United States as political refugees and settled…

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Adrian Shatku
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Adrian Shatku

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs

Adrian Shatku is an Albanian American telecom and Internet entrepreneur. He is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of UNIFI Communications—a UNIFI Holdings company, and the founder/sponsor of BIN, Balkans-Italy- Network, currently under development, which intends to be a catalyst for the growth of Internet, data, and IT for Albania and Western Balkans. Shatku was one of the pioneers of Internet telephony and an early believer in the world-transforming power of the…

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Duro “Dean” Shaska
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Duro “Dean” Shaska

Duro “Dean” Shaska is the prototype of a secondgeneration Albanian American who achieved success by combining the best of both cultures. His mother was from the Albanians of Manastir in Macedonia and his father was from the seaside city of Vlorë in Albania. Shaska was born in Toronto, Canada, and the entire family immigrated to the United States in search of a better life in 1967. Shaska completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in Dearborn and went to work in the automotive industry. He…

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Bruno Selimaj
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Bruno Selimaj

The legendary New York restaurateur lives by John. F. Kennedy’s famous words: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Bruno Selimaj was born and raised in a small village on the Northern Albanian-Montenegro border. He was the oldest brother of six boys and four girls. At the tender age of 18, with his parents’ blessing, Selimaj embarked on a journey to America in search of new life. Upon arriving in the Promised Land in 1971, with no knowledge of English, Selimaj convinced a…

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Sonja Selami, ESQ.
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Sonja Selami, ESQ.

With a deep belief in the American dream and the drive to achieve it, Selami left behind her life in Albania to become a successful lawyer in the United States.

A native of Tirana, Albania, Sonja Selami immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1996. She was already a licensed attorney in her hometown. She’d graduated top of her class at Tirana University School of Law that same year and launched a life-long dream to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, who was a successful attorney. But Selami wanted more….

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Iliriana Sela
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Iliriana Sela

Iliriana Sela, the youngest but no less accomplished member of the Sela family, considers herself lucky to have so many excellent role models to look up to. “To me, a successful person is someone who is hardworking, loving, a fighter for his beliefs, a pursuer of his dreams, and one who makes them happen,” Iliriana says. She sites her sister, Sihana, and her mother, Zirako Klobocista Sela, as a paragon of these values. Following in her sister’s footsteps, Iliriana set out to become successful in all areas of life: education, career, community…

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Baudin Sela
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Baudin Sela

The Sela story is one of an immigrant family who achieved success by upholding the traditions of the old country and incorporating them into a new life. Baudin Sela, head of the family, was raised in Dibra, Macedonia—a region praised for hardworking people who value education, family, and dedication to success— and left his hometown in 1971, after graduating from high school, to pursue higher education in Western Europe. His love of knowledge led him to expand his horizons and ideology by obtaining Swiss and German degrees in history, political science, and…

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Sihana Sela
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Sihana Sela

Sihana, the eldest daughter, has dedicated much time to mentorship, and considers her promotion of family values, higher education, and making an impact in the community one lives in her greatest accomplishments. “My maternal grandparents, Ekrem and Amijet Klobocista—first generation immigrants from Dibra—were great role models and inspiration for success not only for me, but for many Albanians in New York,” Sihana says. As a second generation Albanian American, she makes it a point to strive to achieve goals outside of her profession—and making an impact in the Albanian community is one…

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Geraldine Poppa Schechter
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Geraldine Poppa Schechter

The Brooklyn-raised Poppa dreamt of becoming a doctor and studied her way through top institutions, landing leading physician roles in New York and Washington, D.C.

The success Geraldine Poppa Schechter has achieved—graduating from medical school, training as an internist and hematologist, and joining the medical faculty at George Washington University—is, in large part, due to her parents’ courage. “When my father came as an adventurous young man to see America, somehow at Ellis Island his surname changed from Popa to Poppa,” say Dr. Schechter. “He returned home in 1935 to marry my…

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Alma Saraci
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Alma Saraci

The Albanian native is a natural-born star who quickly shot to theater fame and is now working on feature films.

Born in the central city of Elbasan, Albania, Alma Saraci was first introduced to a world there that would always inspire her future creative endeavors and undoubtedly shape her future. It was in Elbasan, surrounded by olive orchards on one side and the industrial half of the city on the other, that she learned about the complex relationships between human life and nature. “Eating grapes and dodging bullets, we always managed to…

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Shinasi Rama, PH.D.
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Shinasi Rama, PH.D.

The Clinical Professor of Politics and Director of the Master’s Programs at New York University first discovered his passion for politics when he protested against the oppressive Albanian government and helped open the doors to Democracy. 

Shinasi Rama hails from Northern Albania. He attended the Military Academy before continuing his studies in Literature and English at the University of Tirana. Fed up with the depressive state of Albania, Rama and other students organized several demonstrations and a hunger strike, becoming directly responsible for opening the doors to political pluralism and the rest of…

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Molly Qerim
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Molly Qerim

Emmy Award winning sports anchor who has covered everything from the NFL’s Super Bowl to the NCAA’s March Madness tournament is now rooting for her Albanian heritage.

Molly Qerim, an Albanian American veteran sports anchor and reporter, has covered everything coast to coast, from the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and college sports. Qerim has been on-air hosting on national networks her entire career, including ESPN, CBS, and the NFL Network. She honed her skills on various media platforms, conducting interviews of athletes and celebrities, on-site reporting, and hosting…

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Besnik Pula, PH.D.
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Besnik Pula, PH.D.

As a native of Kosova, Dr. Pula started anew in the United States and educated his way up to being a standout sociologist, professor, and researcher.

To Besnik Pula, the most important privilege among immigrants living in America is access to higher education. “The United States has some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and I, like many others, have benefited immensely by the opportunities created by the education system,” says the Kosova native, whose family immigrated to the United States to escape persecution in 1991, when he was 15…

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Dafina Pruthi, PH.D.
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Dafina Pruthi, PH.D.

The Ivy League-bred physician from Prishtina makes it her mission to heal the hearts of her myriad patients and make time for her philanthropic interests.

Dafina Pruthi, born and raised in Prishtina, is the youngest of a typical Kosovar family of five, surrounded by love and happiness. Her parents—originally from the ancient city of Gjakova in southwest Kosova known for its cultural values, traditions, and intellectual strides—had high aspirations for their children and were committed to their academic excellence. As a result, Pruthi set high goals and pursued them with dedication.

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Benjamin Prelvukaj
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Benjamin Prelvukaj

Albanian American Prelvukaj makes a name for himself in the New York City restaurant scene by opening Benjamin Steakhouse and two other topnotch eateries.

Benjamin Prelvukaj is the ambitious young entrepreneur who founded Benjamin Steakhouse. Prelvukaj, along with a fellow Peter Luger alumni—his brotherin- law, Ben Sinanaj—opened Benjamin Steakhouse in 2006, establishing it as one of New York’s premiere steak destinations. Prelvukaj’s accomplishments since he arrived in this country are proof that the American dream is still very much a reality.

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Deluxe Publication – Documentary – Website – Gala Event

Celebrating Albanian American Achievements,
Leadership, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Community Impact, Inspirational and Human
Interest Stories, Influence in arts, business, education, science, politics, and more…

Deluxe Publication – Documentary – Website – Gala Event

Celebrating Albanian American Achievements, Leadership,
Entrepreneurial Spirit, Community Impact, Inspirational and Human
Influence in arts, business, education, science, Share your story politics and more…
Share your Story – Showcase your Achievements – Inspire Future Generations – Benefit a Good Cause


 



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Buy The AASS Book!

Get your print version of the Albanian American Success Stories Book

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Featured Video

Albanian American Success Stories Gala Trailer, Battery Gardens, NYC May 3, 2014

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Gallery

Photos from Albanian American Stories Gala Dinner