In our fourth interview with the Croatian Diaspora, we interview Tatjana Mustać from New York City! We first met Tatjana and her family at an Uppermoda Pop-Up Stall in NYC in 2018. From the moment we met Tatjana, we could feel her immense passion for Croatia. We've been following her adventures through social media and we are really excited to feature her in this series! She is our youngest to be interviewed and has already accomplished so much! From being the youngest member of the NFCA’s first “40 Under 40” Croatian American award to studying abroad in Zagreb, you won't want to miss this interview!
Photo: Tatjana in our Vis Dress
Firstly, thank you so much for being part of this Spotlight Series on how the Croatian Diaspora are keeping Croatian Traditions Alive. We are so happy to interview you!
First of all, I would like to thank you for interviewing me!
My name is Tatjana Mustac and I am from New York. In Croatia, I am from Privlaka (near Zadar) and Labin and Barban (near Pula). Growing up, my parents always made an effort to ensure that my brother and I knew about our heritage through activities such as teaching us Croatian and taking us to Croatia yearly. I have been also extremely blessed to have grown up with all four of my grandparents who all have made their efforts to ensure that the Croatian culture is kept alive.
Currently, I am about to enter my senior year at Queens College, CUNY, where I am majoring in Psychology with a dual minor in Chemistry and Cities & Social Medicine, while on the Pre-Medical track. Outside of my classwork, I enjoy working in my research laboratory, volunteering in the Emergency Department at New York Presbyterian, volunteering with Dancing Dreams (an organization that provides dance education to physically challenged children) and staying active in the Croatian community in the NYC area, nationally in the USA and within Croatia itself.
In 2017, I was the youngest member of the NFCA’s first “40 Under 40” Croatian American award! The award recognizes forty people of Croatian American descent who are both successful in their respected careers and are active within the Croatian community.
When receiving the award, I was in my first semester of college, which significantly made me stand out from other winners. I qualified to be a winner because I worked in scientific research since my sophomore year of high school. Also, I was active in the Croatian community through dancing Croatian folklore with Kardinal Stepinac New York and teaching Croatian folklore to the students of Hrvatska Skola NYC. Since the award, my involvements in the Croatian community have significantly increased.
Some of the opportunities the award has presented me with were: receiving various scholarships, a full scholarship to study abroad at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, speaking at conferences within the Croatian community and at the Croatian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and receiving the Future Leaders award from the Croatian Women’s Network. I have also become a member of the NFCA board and am a part of the committee which selects new members for the “40 Under 40” awards.
This past April, the NFCA’s second “40 Under 40” Croatian Americans awards were released, and I was a part of the selection process. It is important to highlight and recognise members of the Croatian community with this award because it shines light on those who uphold and promote the Croatian culture in the diaspora to ongoing generations. Many winners of the award are leaders in their own communities, and they inspire others to be involved. Learning about and meeting these people in our community is the most rewarding part of the process! I am already looking forward to working on the next set of “40 Under 40” awards for 2021.
During my sophomore year of high school, I did begin a Croatian Club. I attended Saint Francis Preparatory School. The club aims to gather students of Croatian descent and those simply interested in Croatia within the student body. I was interested in creating this club because as ethnically diverse as my high school was, a Croatian Club did not exist despite the number of Croatian students that attended. Although it was a lengthy process to get it started and running, it still is around today after six years since its start.
I did study abroad in Zagreb at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management (ZŠEM) during the summer of 2017. The program was with the University of Michigan. I received a scholarship from the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and ZŠEM to attend the program along with two other students. It was a great experience because I got to explore a city I did not really know at the time: Zagreb. I also got to experience studying a field outside of my comfort zone which was fun. Ever since studying abroad, I make the effort to visit Zagreb every time I am in Croatia just to visit some of my favorite places and restaurants such as Ban Jelacic Square, Saint Mark’s Square, the Katedrala, Zinfandel at the Esplanade Hotel and of course Vincek!
I am currently apart of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), the Croatian Women’s Network, the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA), the Croatian Academy of America, Hrvatska Skola – NYC, Croatian Catholic Youth – NYC and the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union. In the past, I was also a member of the Kardinal Stepinac New York Kolo Grupa. I feel it is important to be active in these groups because they all support keeping the Croatian culture and identity alive in the diaspora.
My next set of goals will take quite a bit of time for me to accomplish however, that will not stop me from pursuing them. As per my career goals, I would like to become a physician-scientist while specializing in either Cardiology or Emergency Medicine. For goals specifically around the Croatian community, I would like to still be involved in the organizations I am currently a part of. One day, I also would like to begin my own scholarship foundation for Croatian American students pursuing careers in the medical field. Next spring, I will be graduating with my bachelor’s degree and no student debt thanks to all of the scholarships I have received from various Croatian organizations. Graduating college without any student debt is extremely rare and I would love to pass on the help I received.
I would recommend using social media and signing up for the Registry of Croatian Entities Abroad database. It could be found using this link: https://www.registarhrvataizvanhrvatske.hr/en/naslovnica-en/. The database is aimed at connecting Croatians across the world and bringing them closer to the homeland.
People can add me on my Facebook page: Tatjana Mustać or follow me on Instagram: tatjana.mustac. They can also follow my website: www.tatjanamustac.com
We hope you enjoyed our fourth and youngest Croatian Diaspora interview in our Spotlight Series! If you would like to be interviewed or would like to recommend someone let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
♡ Meagan & Michael
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Mirjana Cestar is the President of Croatia House - a cultural association established to promote Croatian performing and visual Arts in Australia. Continue reading to find out how Mirjana has been connecting Australia & Croatia and to find out more about the films Croatia House is featuring at the Croatian Film Festival