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9 July 2021

and being loud in a quiet voice

In one of her application essays, Maja quotes John F. Kennedy as saying that “the 18-year-old of today is as mature as the 25-year-old in their grandfather’s generation”. I don’t know if Kennedy said that, or if he was right. What I do know is that Maja is easily more mature than the average 25-year-old in her own generation. Was she trying to tell us something here?

Nah, I don’t think Maja would brag about herself like this. After all, she is someone who clearly prefers showing over telling: Maja’s maturity is written all over her activities. At 17, she is already doing paid work (!) as a logo designer – or, as he likes to think of herself, an “aspiring freelancer”. And you should hear the way she talks about the societal importance of gaming. Where most of her peers see a video game, Maja sees a potential tool for improving mental health and an integral part of the education system of the future.

Whenever her unbelievable versatility enters the conversation, Maja seems uncomfortable, almost embarrassed. In her application video, she told us semi-apologetically that her interests were “far from cohesive”. Raised in a society which likes to put people into boxes, Maja’s equal talent in the arts and sciences sticks out; in fact, it probably sets her apart even from our own students and alumni, and certainly from the author of this piece.

While we admire Maja’s scientific affinity, our hearts were won by her emotional and artistic side. In almost every conversation, Maja comes across as a human sponge capable of fully absorbing everything she experiences, and then giving it her own special touch. Where most teenagers see their siblings as a nuisance at worst and potential “partners in crime” at best, Maja pours her heart into her relationship with her younger brother. Her everyday interaction with him has inspired her to publish several illustrated stories for children, whose titles are listed on her LinkedIn profile. (Yep… she is on LinkedIn.)

With her short stature and quiet voice, Maja is probably not the first person you notice in a larger group. But she is often the one you end up remembering the longest. Her calm vibe and patience in listening to those around her can be mistaken for shyness. But when she does speak, Maja’s endless energy shines through every word that comes out of her mouth and passes on to you in no time. 

In another application essay she wrote for us, Maja time-travelled to the medieval age. Having found herself there in her 21st-century clothes, she faced the need to keep a low profile to avoid being declared a witch. You couldn’t do it even if you tried, Maja, I thought as I was reading it. Starting with UWC Adriatic, she says she is hoping to achieve a “better world and a better me”. We wish her luck with the former. As for the latter, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Kristijan Fidanovski, June 2021