My name is Maricel Duminica, I am currently working in the Private Equity Industry in Luxembourg. I am a Graduate of the Lower Danube University in Romania, and a Postgraduate of University of Southern Denmark. Throughout my studies I have benefited from the Roma Memorial University Scholarships Program (RMUSP) and the Roma International Scholarship Program (RISP) offered by Roma Education Fund.
I grew up in a rather modest family consisting of two lovely parents and three kids. My parents sold fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, and with the money earned they managed to raise us. In school, I felt some discrimination in my early years, but that quickly faded away. I remember one of my teachers calling me a “dirty gypsy”. I ended up being her favourite due to having remarkable results. Unless I am mistaken, I finished middle school with the highest grades and I even managed to go to a couple of student Olympics and national competitions. I was a good student throughout my studies and in university, where I managed to win Mention at the National Scientific Session of Students. Perhaps it was not much, but at that time I was very proud of myself and my paper.
In my second year of University, I registered as a party member in the Liberal Democratic Party. I was doing a pretty good job as an activist, and as a result, I quickly climbed the ranks in the party and got elected as a Secretary in the Economic Department of the youth organisation. That didn’t last for long though – I soon realised that to succeed in politics you needed either a lot of money (and I was poor), or you need to be an expert in your area of work. Hence, to step up my level, I decided to study abroad for my Masters. I started going to English classes, became IELTS certified, and went to study Economics and Finance at Southern Denmark University. I took a big risk though – I left for Denmark with only EUR 1,000 in my pocket. My plan was to work part-time in order to finance my studies and postpone paying the deposit for my dormitory. However, I did not manage to find a job, and the dormitory wanted me to pay the deposit. I became desperate and wrote an email to Roma Education Fund (I had applied for the Roma International Scholarship Program) to ask whether they can give me a reply regarding my application sooner. In less than one week they transferred the money to my account. I can easily say they saved my life. After that, I managed to obtain an internship at the European Commission, finalised my Master, and now here I am, working for a reputable Private Equity firm in Luxembourg.
My parents are my role models. With a modest income, they raised a doctor, an economist and my sister who is currently doing her bachelor’s degree. She will probably become an economist, just like me. I think Roma should follow their dreams and work in the area that they like. Never follow money, but passion. I would also advise young Roma to study hard and make sure to get top grades, and eventually at work, do not forget to brag about your achievements – nobody else will do it for you.
I often meet other Romanians through common friends who have stigma against Roma. I always disclose who I am in order to show them that Roma are not just beggars, but normal people, educated, with good careers and important achievements.