Allow us to introduce Bora Laçi, an Assistant Director of Programs and Director of Studies with Southern Methodist University!
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Let us tell you a little bit about Bora Laci.
Bora Laçi is the Assistant Director of Programs and Director of Studies at the Tower Center for Pubic Policy. Bora has expertly managed the Center's programs, not only increasing the number of programs but also expanding the audience diversity and demographic. Bora manages the Forum and works closely with the Center's faculty directors and program leads to develop strategies for all of the Center's programs and initiatives. Bora was born in Albania and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1996. She graduated with a B.A. in corporate communications and a minor in psychology from SMU in 2013. After graduation, she began her career as a digital advertising analyst for M/C/C, integrating her passions for analytics and technology services. She earned an M.B.A. in Finance from SMU's Cox School of Business in 2019.
Explain how COVID-19/ George Floyd's death has impacted you (emotionally, physically, finically, spiritually, and mentally) in a positive and negative way.
This year truly has been one to remember. Reality certainly struck early this year by revealing certain elements of our human nature. Initially, we as humans are truly vulnerable to nature. Specifically, in the U.S. during the lockdown, Covid-19 truly gave us a glimpse of what our future would be if we steer away from science and more importantly collective cooperation. As an extrovert, I initially felt trapped but then with time reflected on all the benefits we must overcome our so-called “boredom”. I flipped the script and spent time working on myself, cooking, and taking a small break from the fast-paced lifestyle we all have adopted. I am thankful for my health and also spending some time with my family. These are blessings that no many have the luxury of experiencing.
Additionally, during the virus, a wave of social justice swept the country. I can vividly remember watching the footage of George Floyd and I personally had a hard time understanding the atrocities we as humans are capable. His death rocked the nation and fundamentally sparked a social movement that had been swept under the rug with our daily distractions. As an immigrant, I can understand the feeling of being different in a country especially with a different name, language, and culture. While these details created some level of difficulty opportunities and privileges were present. It’s upsetting and truly unfathomable to witness and learn about the years of discrimination and lack of opportunities in the Black American communities. America has values that many aspire and many immigrants across the world sacrifice their lives to live in this country. However, this country should evolve to be a beacon of social opportunity and not just economic opportunity. With the various diverse cultures that make up what it means to be American, as a society we should embrace those ideals and change our perspective to treat everyone equally. This is a long journey but with George Floyd’s death, the collective power of humans and technology we have accelerated the pace of change and as a young Albanian-American I have an aching desire to make a positive impact.
Tell us about your company/occupation. What’s your biggest professional or personal accomplishment? Explain how you felt working towards it and how you felt when it was achieved.
I am the Assistant Director of Programs and Director of Studies for an academic research center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center will pursue its mission in a non-partisan manner. We want to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders; the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the worlds of ideas. My biggest personal accomplishment was completing my MBA at the age of 26. My dad passed away five years ago and one of his last wishes was for me to get my MBA from SMU. Walking on that stage and receiving my diploma, was one of the most amazing feelings I had and knowing that he was there with me meant a lot more. My MBA was not only for me but also for my parents and all the sacrifices they made to come to America to give us a better future.
What was your childhood like? Describe your environment from your house to your neighborhood to your school. How did these experiences shape you and your future success?
My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1996. When communism collapsed in Albania, the future was unpredictable, and my parents wanted to secure a future for my Brother and me. Both of my parents had established careers in Albania and in the U.S., they had to start with a blank slate. For my parents, life was hard but fortunately, my childhood was insulated from their struggles. I look back and I am truly grateful for the childhood that my parents were able to provide an understanding of the struggles and sacrifices they endured. Our neighborhoods were safe, and we mainly interacted with other Albanian families. We grew up relatively with little wealth, but overtime built our fortunes to a normal middle-class family.
My mom ensured that we received the best public education in the Richardson District. Our schools were diverse, and I personally enjoyed connecting with friends who had different backgrounds and nationalities. Our international group of friends found similar things in common with our upbringing. Education was the center of my family’s focus. My parents maximized their abilities to make sure that I had all the resources to succeed. Their daily struggles stood as an example of what benefits education offered and how I could propel into a successful future.
Tell us about your inner circle (close friends, family, mentors, relationship). How does their support impact your success?
My close friends are smarter than me, Confucius said: “if you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room.” My inner circle is people who push me, who are honest, who share their failures and strengths and help me grow. My biggest supports that have impacted my success will always be my parents. My parents are the definition of living out the American dream. They started with nothing and have built an empire in their own right. I will always be inspired by their ability to keep going no matter what, especially my mom. Since my dad’s passing, I am in awe of her unmatched thirst to always know more and by her compassion and selflessness to do anything and everything for her family. Without my parent’s strength, I would not have been able to succeed and come this far in my journey.
List a few habits that a young person should start implementing to set them up for a successful future?
Learn, grow, and repeat. The best advice I received as a kid was that learning does not stop once you leave the classroom; you need to educate yourself every day on issues/topics that challenge future and past generations. Growth is a learning mindset, to be successful you need to always ask questions, always be curious, and always learn something new each day.
Share a big mistake you made professionally or personally. How did you fix it and what did you learn?
In my first job out of college, I learned a valuable lesson when I under-communicated with a client. Ultimately, this led to a loss of revenue for the department. When I realized what I had done wrong, I immediately took responsibility. I set up a meeting with my boss and client and explained what had happened and why I overlooked the details that resulted in the loss of revenue. The client respected my honesty. I learned the value of communicating, even the tough or negative information, and why it’s important to establishing trust.
What are you afraid of for girls and women in the future?
Women have come along way in terms of rights, equality, and representation across a variety of professions. But there is still more work to be done. I would love to focus specifically on science and technology. The representation is still low relative to our male counterparts and both fields are becoming ever more critical in our society. As we build solutions for the future, we need to ensure that the creators behind these innovations are also women. Female entrepreneurs bring a new recipe in the formula of change and result in diverse solutions that are naturally better for society.
The greatest fear I have is complacency in the milestones that are achieved. If the current political system precedes to evolve in the future and we don’t push to achieve stronger representation in the political system, aka…the white house then our future will not be the future I hope to see. Female leadership should be present and in greater numbers, because it will ultimately contribute to the benefits that a diverse society creates.
If you could give your 18 -year-old self-advice about the adult you are today, what would it be?
You have a voice and you should use it courageously and compassionately. To continue to believe in yourself and do things that scare you and are out of your comfort zone.