GKS Board

Our Approach

Mission

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

Our Story

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 $200,000 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

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Marina Lekocaj

Chair

Marina is a recent graduate of Michigan State University and currently works at DirectRx Specialty Pharmacy where she is the Assistant Director of Communications. She graduated from Michigan State with a Bachelors of Science, majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in health promotion. While at Michigan State, she was a teaching assistant under the Department of Education and taught second grade catechism for three years within the East Lansing area. She was a part of Michigan State's AASO chapter and served as the public relations chair during her junior year and as president her senior year. She is passionate about working with students and helping them pursue their dreams through education. She is excited to start working with the other members of the board and helping Albanian students reach their dreams toward higher education.

Val Vulaj

Valbona Vulaj

Vice Chair

Vulaj is a recent graduate of Michigan State University and currently in the Chrysler Institute of Engineering Program at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. This program is allowing her to rotate throughout various departments while getting her Masters in Electrical Engineering at Oakland University. Val interned with FCA starting in May 2015 and continued with FCA for the next three summer until she finished her BS in Electrical Engineering in December 2017. Val has always been close to the Albanian Community through her involvement as a dancer in Grupi Gjergj Kastrioti, where she spent 6 years traditional dancing throughout the country. In her free time Val enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.

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Dr. Blegina Miraka

Secretary

Dr. Blegina Miraka is a General Dentist in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science with honors from Oakland University and went on to complete her Doctorate from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Illinois. During her time at Oakland University, she served as Vice President and President of the Albanian American Student Organization as well as taught children the Albanian language and folklore dance at the Balkan Center. While in dental school, Dr. Miraka continued to take on leadership roles and served as the Fundraising Chair of her dental fraternity Delta Sigma Delta. Dr. Miraka takes pride in her heritage and is passionate about helping young Albanians succeed, which evidently lead her to become a board member of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and a mentor for the Albanian Professional Women Organization. She is excited to give back and spread her love for education to others. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family especially her little niece and trying new restaurants with her sister and friends. She relaxes by reading a good book, baking and working out.

Gentjan Heqimi

Gentjan Heqimi

Treasurer

Genti is an Engineer with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc where he provides consulting services in Transportation Engineering. He received his Bachelor's in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University (MSU). He continued his graduate studies at MSU where he obtained a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning and another Master's in Civil Engineering (with a focus in Transportation). During his early studies at MSU he became involved with the Albanian American Student Organization (AASO) and other community based organizations, where he provided music for the many fundraising events from 2008 to 2015. He is excited to be able to give back to the community and help recognize the many accomplishments of the next generation of students. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, music, running, and traveling.

Kristina Ivezaj

Kristina Ivezaj

Scholarship Committee

Kristina is a medical student at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, currently rotating at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield. She received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. While at the University, she served as the vice-president of the school's chapter of the Albanian American Student Organization. It was during that time that she helped organize Education Unlocked, an annual program geared at introducing Albanian high-schoolers to the variety of options for pursuing a secondary education. Kristina is passionate about education and mentorship, and hopes that being part of the GKSF Board will allow her to further help students in the community achieve their academic and professional goals. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, getting together with friends and family, and being active with her dog.

Klementina

Klementina Sula

Development Director

Tina is the Chief Development Officer at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, where she is responsible for the hospital’s fundraising efforts. Previously, Tina served as the Director of International Giving and Engagement at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) of the University of Michigan (UM). During her tenure at Michigan, Tina is most proud of helping establish the Albanian Community Summer Fellowship Fund, which provides scholarships to UM students interested in pursuing internships and other opportunities in Albania and its region. During summer 2015, fifteen UM students interned in Albania and Kosova. Tina has also worked for the US Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the Club de Madrid in Madrid, Spain and for the State Department (Main State) in Washington, D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a master’s degree in Public Policy, and a master’s degree in Higher Education (with a focus on Philanthropy, Advancement and Development) – all from the University of Michigan.

Professional Headshot by: Robb McCormick Photography - https://www.robbmccormick.com

Franko Sallaku

Event Coordinator
Franko is the Managing Partner at Continental Contracting Co. He received his Bachelors in Political Science at Oakland University, where he was involved in various student organizations including the Albanian American Student Organization and Albanian Roots. Franko went on to receive a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University – Moritz College of Law. He recognizes the importance of a strong, united community and enjoys giving back to increase opportunities for the next generation of students to come. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends and travel to new cities and countries.
Donald Demiri

Donald Demiri

Marketing & Outreach

Donald is an Engineer at DTE Energy, where he started as a student. Donald received his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Wayne State University and EMBA at Michigan State University. As a student, he was involved in multiple leadership roles in the Albanian American Student Organization. Donald's focus has been giving back to the community that provides opportunities for others 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 of course volunteering.