2014: Paul Jovanovich
Paul Jovanovich is the son of George and Mary Kay and brother to Nick and Katie. He is the grandson of John and Joanne Jovanovich and Steve and Mary Jane Medalia. He traces his family roots to the islands of Dugi Otok and Ilovik and mountainous town of Mrkopalj in the Gorski Kotar region of Croatia. Born July 16, 1990, he attended St. Anthony’s Grade School. He graduated from John F. Kennedy Catholic High School. At Kennedy he was elected Student Body President and participated in several mission trips to Tijuana to build homes with his church youth group.
Croatian heritage has always been an important part of his life. He was a proud member of the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans, learning traditional dances, songs, and playing Bugarija, from the time he was young until graduation from high school. This year he graduated from The University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he earned a swimming scholarship, receiving an Interdisciplinary Degree with concentrations in Biology, Environmental Studies, and Sociology. He enjoys being so greatly invested in his heritage and hopes to follow his family’s example by joining Kišobran and Sinovi Seattle to continue playing Croatian music and to keep his family’s heritage alive for years to come.
In his own words:
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CROATIAN: My Croatian heritage is no doubt one of the most important aspects of my life. The Croatian community has surrounded me for my entire life and I cherish it greatly. While growing up I realized the sad fact that my generation is not connected with their heritage and family history and I am thankful and fortunate to have family that is invested in our heritage. To be a Croatian, in my opinion, is to have an understanding of the deep history of my ancestors, the great country they were from, and the Croatian culture. I am honored to be able to sing and play traditional songs, and to be able to dance traditional dances that have been passed on through the generations. It is an art that is uncommon for most of my generation. Thanks to my parents and being a part of the SJT’s I have been able to travel all over the USA, Canada, and Croatia where I have met other Croatians that will be friends for life, and experienced Croatian culture in its entirety. I am extremely proud to identify as a Croatian and someday hope to share my deep appreciation for my heritage and culture with my own children. - Paul Jovanovich