November 22, 2011 – Washington, D.C. & Chicago – On November 12, 2011, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) officially launched its Chicago operations at a reception held at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. During the same evening, UMD awarded DePaul University undergraduate student Nevena Neskoska the fourth UMD John L. N. Bitove, C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship.
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UMD President Metodija A. Koloski opened the reception noting the reasons UMD decided to open operations in Chicago. “Chicago was once home to a very vibrant Macedonian-American community dating back to the 1890s. Much of the community’s vibrancy was lost and assimilated throughout the last decades and it is UMD’s intent to work with all Macedonian-Americans in Chicago to strengthen the community.” He concluded that “Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S., a regional and important business center, and home to eighty plus diplomatic missions.”
Macedonia’s new Consul General to Chicago, His Excellency Jakup Redzepi during his remarks stressed three pillars of any nation: the language, the culture, and the traditions. He urged all attendees to learn and speak the Macedonian language, and to uphold the Macedonian culture, traditions, and the history.
UMD Advisory Council member and Managing Partner of Benefitdecisions, Inc., Jerry Naumoff, gave an inspirational and moving speech about the importance his family, especially his Baba and Dedo, played in ensuring upholding his Macedonian heritage. He urged the younger generation to never forget their roots and get involved with UMD Chicago. UMD “is a fine organization run by truly gifted and patriotic Macedonians representing our many communities around the world. Every UMD policy and every dollar is transparent and accountable; otherwise I would personally not be involved,” concluded Naumoff.
UMD Chicago Planning Committee member Natalia Buling bestowed upon Nevena Neskoska the UMD’s John L. N. Bitove Macedonian Heritage Scholarship. In her acceptance remarks, Nevena thanked UMD, the Bitove Family, her family, and her mentor Asa Gordon. “It is not easy to be Macedonian when your identity is being challenged and denied from all sides; I would advise all of you to act as I do, be a proud Macedonian, with a chin up, and protect our name and identity, as that is the essence of our very existence as a people.”
Nevena Neskoska was born in Ohrid, Macedonia and moved to the U.S. at the age of 7. She is currently attending DePaul University and majoring in Spanish while at the same time fulfilling her prerequisites for med-school. Treasurer of the DePaul UNICEF club, during her spare time Nevena practices soccer, composes music, and has been teaching herself Romanian for the past seven years. She has received the Dean’s Award for Scholastic Excellence and was awarded the Women’s Inverness Scholarship for two years in a row. In the future, Nevena hopes to study sports medicine and bring her expertise back home to Macedonia.
The UMD John L. N. Bitove, C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship, named after prominent businessman and pillar of the global Macedonian community John L. N. Bitove, C.M. was established in 2010 to assist Macedonians pursuing undergraduate degrees in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States. The purpose of the UMD John L. N. Bitove, C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship is to advance the education of young Macedonians who are guided by the values of their Macedonian upbringing and heritage. The Bitove Foundation awarded UMD $50,000.00 in June 2010 towards this Scholarship Program, and the funds will be distributed over the course of the next few years.
UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov concluded the evening by reminding everyone that “it is our duty and obligation to celebrate our rich Macedonian heritage, and to pass it down to our children and future generations because that is the only way that we will ensure the prosperity of the Macedonian nation. People come and go, but Macedonia is eternal.”
UMD thanks the following sponsors for their support of the UMD Chicago Launch – ABS Freight Transportation, Inc., Pella Carrier Services, Inc., Drs. Anastas and Nada Mukoski and Family, Jerry and LuAnn Naumoff and Family, Vojo Spaseski, Trajko Papuckoski, Sts. Kiril and Metodij Macedonian Orthodox Church, St. Petka Paraskeva Macedonian Orthodox Church, and www.MKDNews.com. “Without the support of our sponsors, the launch reception would not have been such a success,” said Nikolov.
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