As a young boy growing up in Serbia, Milovan Jovic never would have imagined that in a decade he would be writing his own version of the American dream.
But that is exactly what this 21-year-old Northern Essex Community College engineering science student is doing. Jovic, a Haverhill resident who holds a 4.0 grade point average, recently received the Covanta Energy Corporation Scholarship for $1,000.
He was one of nearly 200 NECC students and one of more than 50 Haverhill residents to share about $178,000 in NECC scholarship money — a record amount for the school.
Jovic was 6 years old when he, his parents, and older brother fled the Serbian civil war in 1999. They arrived in Boston under a federal refugee program. None of them could speak English.
Displaced and dazed, his family lived in Lynn for a while. There, Jovic attended school as an English-as-a-second language student. By the time he entered middle school, his family had settled in Beverly and he was fluent in English.
By his own admission, Jovic was not a serious student until he neared the end of high school, when he gave greater focus to his academics, enrolling in advanced placement calculus and physics and dual enrollment classes with UMass Lowell. Following his 2011 graduation from Beverly High School, he enrolled in a four-year college. Though he had the motivation, he didn’t have the money to continue.
Back in Beverly, while playing basketball in the park, he met a fellow Beverly High School graduate whose ambition matched his own. Zuleyka was born in Puerto Rico. She was 3 years old when her family moved first to Boston and then Beverly. When she met Jovic, she was a nursing assistant at Beverly Hospital while attending Northern Essex full time. She encouraged him to enroll at NECC because it was more affordable, and he took her advice.