It’s always refreshing to read inspirational stories of both women and men who didn’t allow the disadvantages or struggles they faced early on in life to determine what their outcome would be in the future. From refugee to radio, this is just the story Vildana “Sunni” Puric wants to tell.
The Washington D.C. WPGC 95.5 radio personality recently released a book titled ‘Still I Shine: Refugee To Radio, Living The American Dream.’ In the book, Sunni walks us through the raw challenges of her life as an immigrant, chasing the American dream, being haunted by the past, finding a new identity, and building a future. Originally from Bosnia, the now 34-year-old was just 13-years-old when she came to the U.S. and spoke no English. Determined to learn the English language, Sunni reveals that she learned to speak English in just six months.
“I came to the United States when I was 13-years-old,” she tells WJLA Washington D.C. “I learned to speak English in six months because, and I always talk about this, they put us in school according to age. They put me in seventh grade and I’m like, ‘Okay, great. I didn’t go to the fifth or sixth grade. Cool, I’m a seventh grader.’”
Sunni continues, “It was February and so all the kids [that] were immigrants that didn’t speak English were in ESL classes and they were on the bottom floor of the school. So, when you make it to be like [an] American speaking person, you move up. So, I was like, by [the] time I start eighth grade, I want to be one the top floor of the school and I spent my summer learning to speak English.”
Sunni went on to discuss wanting to become a radio personality at age 18. And although she’d learned to speak English, she still maintained a heavy accent and had not quite become fluent.
“I remember I was 18-years old and I wanted to be on-air,” she recalls. “I walked into my boss’ office, I was an intern, and I said I wanted to get on the radio and he said, ‘Here? This is Detroit. Top ten market. No, you sound terrible. You’re awful.’ I had a thick accent and I was like, ‘okay, that’s great, but what do I have to do?’ And so I made a plan.”
‘Still I Shine: Refugee To Radio, Living The American Dream’ is now available on Amazon.com. If you are interested in reading about Vildana “Sunni” Puric’s journey from growing up in refugee camps and living in a makeshift attic-turned home to becoming an influential radio personality, you should definitely pick up a copy!