Ina Duka

Video

Boston Latin Academy
Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Ina moved to the United States from Albania when she was twelve. "My family-me, my mom, and my brother-moved here because my mom wanted us to get a better education than we would in Albania. I was really young and had to take care of my family because I was the older child. My mom didn't speak English, so it was basically up to me." Ina learned English quickly and was able to attend the Boston Latin Academy. She applied to Bottom Line after hearing about the program from a fellow volunteer at a local organization.

Inspired by her mother, Ina wanted to study engineering. With support from Bottom Line, Ina applied to 10 colleges, including Boston University, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), UMass Amherst, and Tufts University. She says it came down to UMass Amherst and WPI, and Bottom Line helped her make the tough decision of which college to attend. "It wasn't that I didn't know where to go, it was the financial part of it... I didn't have money to go to WPI. So Bottom Line said, 'Here are some scholarships. Apply to them.' And I did." Ina received a $10,000 scholarship from the Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship Fund, allowing her to afford WPI and avoid taking out an excessive amount of loans. She has continued to receive this scholarship each year since then.

Shortly after arriving at WPI, Ina declared a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering. While adjusting to college life posed its challenges, Ina faced her classes head-on. In just her first semester, she earned all As and Bs.

Ina continued to move quickly toward her goals both in and outside of class. During the summer after her freshman year, she was able to put her new engineering skills to work at Draper Laboratory. "I didn't know anything about Draper, and never would have considered it because it was the end of my freshman year. Everyone tells you that after the end of your sophomore year you can apply for internships, so I wasn't looking at all. Then I got a phone call from Bottom Line saying they needed my resume... A week later, I got a call from Draper... A month later, I was working at Draper." That summer, Ina interned in the Microelectronics Department and worked on two projects for the Navy. Ina was able to work at Draper again this past summer and plans to return there again in January, during winter break.

Ina is now entering her junior year at WPI and has already finished more than half the requirements for her degree. She continues to make the most of her time at college by maintaining a high GPA, volunteering for local organizations, working on various engineering projects, and even mentoring younger students. Ina plans to attend graduate school to further her studies in electrical and computer engineering after she graduates in 2012.

 

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