Building Connections: Student Sofija Kaluderovic

Originally from Montenegro, Sofija Kaluderovic is a junior at John Cabot, double majoring in International Affairs and Economics and Finance. Sofija is a Resident Assistant (RA) and a Business Department Representative in Student Government, and in Spring 2023 she volunteered with TEDxRoma.

What brought you to JCU and Rome? 
Growing up, my family visited Italy several times, which sparked my interest in Italian culture. I loved the melodic language, delicious food, and friendly people. My father also influenced me because he is a fan of Italian director Federico Fellini, Italian singer Toto Cutugno, and Italian actress Sophia Loren. For my senior year of high school, I did an exchange program in the U.S., which introduced me to the American education system. I found out about JCU from my father and thought it was an ideal match. It was the only university outside of the U.S. I applied to, because I aspired to study there, but after being accepted to JCU, I knew it was the right choice.  

Sofija Kaluderovic

Why did you double major in International Affairs and Economics and Finance?
I decided to major in International Affairs because I grew up in a multicultural family – my mother is Russian, and my father is Montenegrin. I was exposed to a variety of cultures and mentalities, which led me to become interested in how people from different backgrounds communicate with each other. When I went to the U.S., I was exposed to a different culture. It made me realize that no matter where we come from, we all have something in common. We’re all human, and that unites us, despite our differences.  

I chose to major in Economics and Finance because I have always been interested in mathematics thanks to my high school professors in Montenegro. Even in elementary school, I had great professors who cared about what they were teaching and always encouraged me to go into mathematics and apply for international competitions. Even now, I’ll do math problems for fun. The Economics and Finance major is a combination of economics and mathematics, which I enjoy. 

What are some differences between the Montenegrin education system and the American education system? 
The American system gives you more flexibility. You can choose the courses you want, which gives you room for exploration. Even professors get the freedom to choose how they want to teach, which is great because it allows them to use their experience to teach in the way they think is best. On the other hand, the Montenegrin system is more structured. It gives you less freedom, but if you know you want to specialize in something, it provides you with a well-rounded theoretical approach.  

Tell us more about your experiences being an RA, and being involved with Student Government. What have you learned about yourself from these experiences?  
JCU has great opportunities for students. Working as an RA not only prepared me for future jobs and improved my leadership, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills, but it also allowed me to work with amazing people on the JCU Housing team. It’s a nice working environment, and I am especially thankful to my supervisor, Vanessa Di Carlo. She’s the one who told me about the opportunity to volunteer for TEDxRoma. 

I volunteered at TEDxRoma two semesters ago. I worked alongside the TEDx team to manage and prepare one of their events. It was a great experience to collaborate with international speakers and learn about the behind-the-scenes.  

For Student Government, I’m a Business Department Representative. I collaborate with the business faculty and coordinate various events. It helps me be more engaged with the community, which I’m grateful for.  

Through these experiences, I’ve learned that I like to help others and about the power of teamwork. It’s important to know how to work with other people and how to communicate. I’m a multi-tasker and I like the fast-paced lifestyle. Being part of different activities has taught me how to believe in myself and given me confidence.

The main advantage is meeting new people and building connections. The professors are caring and the students are passionate. I can tell that people are set for success. Everyone is unique and has their own way of seeing things, and I have learned so much from the people here. 

What advice would you give to students considering JCU? 
JCU is an amazing university with great faculty and staff. It opens doors for careers and personal advancement and has a lot to offer students. My advice is to try everything and use all the opportunities that the University provides because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rome is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I think it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.  

What are your plans for the future? 
After graduating next spring, I am planning to apply for a master’s degree in data science or economics and finance in Europe. I would like to work in the economics department of an embassy, combining the expertise of my two majors. However, I am open to other possibilities. I have learned that life is full of surprises, and sometimes what it brings is far better than what I could have asked for.