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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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Alberti Popaj
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Alberti Popaj

The sky is the limit for Alberti Popaj… from singing and having an Albanian solo recording, to an air personality for QVC Network.

Alberti Popaj was born and raised in Manhattan, his parents having immigrated to the United States in 1974. His mother is from Prishtina, Kosova and his father is from Ulqin, Montenegro. Between the two of them, Popaj grew up with great exposure to Albanian traditions, music, food and culture. Popaj is an on air spokesperson and television personality for the QVC network. “My job is to present products, tell…

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Mars Podvorica
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Mars Podvorica

The New Yorkbased architect who got his start in the small town of Prishtina makes big leaps in innovative design.

New York-based architect Mars Podvorica always found the style and structure of buildings fascinating. He studied and sketched as a child, but he never knew the heights he’d reach in practicing his hobby. Born and raised in Prishtina, Kosova, Podvorica began his architecture studies early, as an undergraduate student at the University of Prishtina, Faculty of Architecture, before moving to the United States for more schooling. At Pratt Institute in New York…

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Peter Pochi, M.D.
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Peter Pochi, M.D.

One of the first Albanian-American doctors to embrace dermatology, and to have engaged in efforts to develop Accutane, a popular acne medication.

Peter Pochi’s desire to be a physician had its beginnings early. A family member was chronically ill, and encounters with physicians were frequent. Consequently, he could imagine for himself nothing less than a future career in medicine. Eventually, he was fortunate enough enter the medical field and, in time, achieve personal success in it and to be the first Albanian American to embrace the specialty of dermatology. “My parents were…

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Saimir Pirgu
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Saimir Pirgu

Albanian American Saimir Pirgu is one of the fastest-rising tenors on the operatic and concert map.

Saimir Pirgu is already being ranked as one of the fastest-rising artists on the operatic and concert map, with a career just a decade old. With a voice of uncommon beauty, his communicative, convincing, and artistic interpretations of many of the most popular roles in the lyric repertoire have received critical and audience acclaim whenever and wherever he performs. Pirgu is keenly aware of his Albanian heritage and is a passionate ambassador for his native country….

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Darian Pavli, ESQ
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Darian Pavli, ESQ

Pavli makes strides in international human rights as a top attorney and one of the first Albanians to appear before the Grand Chamber of the European Court. 

Darian Pavli is an internationally recognized human rights lawyer, specializing in free speech, media law, right-to-know, and political freedoms. A senior counsel with George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Pavli has litigated cases before all major international human rights tribunals and supported democracy activism in dozens of countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. Pavli, a native of Vlorë, Albania, arrived in New York in…

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Christina Palushaj
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Christina Palushaj

JANE OF ALL TRADES, is there anything she can’t do? 

Christina Palushaj got her start in photography and film. But getting hired by Russell Simmons—the music, fashion, media, business mogul, visionary and philanthropist—was a key turning point in her career. She quickly discovered that her role required creativity, inventiveness, and the sharp business sense that she possessed. It was a perfect match! Palushaj is a savvy and driven professional, with a strong work ethic, nonon-sense style and highly developed skill-set that drives her to excel. Working closely with such a successful business…

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The Osmani Brothers
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The Osmani Brothers

The close-knit Osmani brothers’ American dream and hard work results in them becoming President Clinton’s neighbors, allowing them to personally thank him for the opportunities they have had in America and for his efforts in saving Kosova.

The journey of the Osmani family began more than a half century ago in Morinë, a small agricultural village on the outskirts of Gjakovë on the Kosovë-Albania border. Here, the Osmani brothers learned from their father, Arif Osmani, the importance of helping the less fortunate. The house they grew up in was known as a safe…

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Angjelina Nika
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Angjelina Nika

The brilliant Albania-born dancer and choreographer of the Rozafati Dance Ensemble makes moves that inspire the next generation.

Albanian folk dancing is more than about good moves—it’s a spiritual and cultural experience with significant historical roots. That’s why Angjelina Nika dedicates her life to teaching it. Season after season, year after year, she dutifully does her part in preserving the history, virtue, and sentiment, step-by-step, for the next generation. Nika—who was born in Tropojë, Albania, in June 1966— started dancing at age of 6 and she has yet to stop. She became a…

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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