GKS Board

Mission

To promote Albanian education within our Albanian Community and provide academic scholarships to Albanian students seeking a higher education.

Overview 

The Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship (GKS) Fund was founded in 1999 as an extension of the Albanian American Student Organization. Our goal is to provide scholarships to Albanian students that demonstrate a need and/or have maintained a history of a superior academic achievement. Since its inception, the GKS has awarded over $100,000 and hopes to continue awarding even more in the years to come.

After filing all the proper documents, on September 21, 2001, the Internal Revenue Service determined that our organization is exempt from federal income tax. Therefore, all donations to the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund are tax deductible.

Every year we receive highly qualified applicants and the need and competition is greater than ever. Albanian students need your help in their pursuit of a higher education. We ask you to reach in your hearts and help Albanian students reach their academic goals.

We believe that our fund creates a foundation that offers more than just a financial support. It demonstrates that our community is willing and able to support all those that pursue a higher education. This ideal helps and motivates our youth and creates a great moral among our community. It epitomizes the bond between education and community advancement. You can feel confident that anything you do for this fund will be recognized. Our mission is to create a world-class scholarship fund with your help and support. We welcome your opinions and are grateful for you continued support.

Meet the GKS Board

Donald Demiri

Donald Demiri

Chair

Donald is an Engineer at DTE Energy, where he started as a student. Donald received his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Wayne State University. As a student, he was involved in multiple leadership roles in the Albanian American Student Organization including President. Donald focus has been giving back to the community that provides opportunities for him to succeed. He helped create Mother Teresa Service Day where hundreds of students have volunteered throughout metro Detroit with various organizations. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family, outdoor activities and volunteering.

Linda Camaj

Linda Camaj

Secretary

Linda is a Research Assistant for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. She collaborates on high-impact projects that focus on health disparities and inequities. Currently, Linda is also a Spanish Teacher for Ann Arbor Public Schools, and has enjoyed teaching third and fourth graders for the past two years. She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she majored in Biomolecular Science and Spanish, and served as president of the Albanian American Student Organization for two terms. In 2014, she co-founded Education Unlocked, an annual student-powered program that promotes higher education for Albanian-American high school students in Metro-Detroit. Linda was a previous recipient of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship and is passionate about utilizing education as a tool for community empowerment. She anticipates a career in primary care as a physician that will prioritize the health of communities that are underserved, uninsured, and/or ignored. In her free time she enjoys cooking delicious meals (especially speca te mbushura) for family and friends.

Pjeter Vulaj

Pjeter Vuli

Scholarship Committee

Pjeter is an Engineering Group Manager at General Motors. Prior to this position, he worked for EDS and BOSCH in various engineering positions, from Application Engineering to Senior Engineering Management. Pjeter graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Oakland University with a Master of Science in Computer Science Engineering. He is one of the co-founders of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and served as its Treasurer for 14 years. He was also the co-founder of the Albanian American Student Organization chapter at Oakland University and served as its president for the first year. Enjoys traveling, sports, food, and spending time with family and friends.

Mark Berishaj

Mark Berishaj

Development Director

Mark’s serves as the President of DirectRx Speciality Pharmacy in Troy, MI. Before joining the family business, he served as Executive Vice President of Sales for a national mortgage lender for over 7 years.  Mark is one of the founding members of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and served as it is first chairman. He received a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University with a major in finance and business economics.  He resides in Birmingham with his wife and three kids and enjoys spending all his free time with his family.

Rezarta Haxhillari

Rezarta Haxhillari

Marketing & Communications

Rezarta is a Marketing Manager at General Motors.  Prior to this position, she worked for a number of different non-profit organizations as well as a presidential campaign.  Rezarta received her bachelors of business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and her MBA from Indiana University-Kelley School of Business. She was also the co-founder of the Albanian American Student Organization chapter at UM-Dearborn and served as its president for two years. During her free time, she enjoys traveling internationally, yoga, checking out new restaurants and spending time with family and friends.

Noela Leka

Noela Leka

Treasurer

Noela is a financial services professional currently with Nissan North America.  Noela has multiple bachelor degrees from University of Michigan-Dearborn and speaks a number of languages. She has participated in study abroad programs in Italy, France and Turkey. She has worked as an ambassador to the University of Michigan-Dearborn exchange student program with the University of Padova.  Noela is a past recipient of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship and recently joined the Board. For many years, she has been active in the Albanian community by teaching Albanian to the new Albanian-American generation. Noela enjoys going to concerts and plays, visiting museums, reading, movies, volunteering, outdoor activities, keeping in touch with family and friends all over the world, and most of all, traveling when her busy schedule allows.

Kledia Xhelilaj

Kledia Xhelilaj

Event Planner

Kledia is a Project Manager at Techworld Language Solutions in Troy, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2015, where she majored in International Studies and History. During her time at Michigan she was involved in the local AASO chapter and served as the Public Relations Chair. In 2014, she interned at the former Ministry of Tourism and Urban Development in Tirana, Albania and worked as a translator/interpreter. She’s passionate about strengthening the ties between the Albanian diaspora and Albanians in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. Kledia spends her free time practicing her Albanian through community interactions, Albanian TV and music.

Mike Gashaj

Mike Gashaj

Event Planner

Michael is a Project Manager at the Schaeffler Group in Troy, primarily focusing on valvetrain research & development. Mike’s past work has focused on electronics & seating at Lear & Faurecia, along with consumer goods at Unilever. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial & Operations Engineering. Mike was part of the Albanian American Student Organization at the University of Michigan, and took a deep interest in the GKS Fund after learning about it in 2015. He has taken on the role as board member starting May of 2017, and will be taking on various roles throughout his time as board member.
Laura M. Ivezaj

Laura Ivezaj

Recruitment & Outreach

Laura is a junior associate at Secrest Wardle. She will receive her Juris Doctor from Cooley Law School in August 2018.  Currently, Laura specializes in complex litigation, including, intellectual property, employment law, products liability and toxic tort law. Laura received her Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from Saginaw Valley State University. She was a student-athlete on the women’s soccer team. Laura enjoys being an active member in the Albanian American community and helped developed a “Sister-City” relationship between her hometown, Rochester Hills, and her parents’ hometown, Tuz, Montenegro. In her free time she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, soccer, golf, and skiing.