Spotlight: From Kosovo War to U-M Police
In just five years, Milot Goci has gone from fleeing his childhood home in war-stricken Kosovo to sanctuary in the United States to this month's graduation from a police academy in a U-M police uniform.
"I hate injustice," Goci says. "What better job than a police officer to work in a place where injustice is not allowed."
Goci was one of 12 June 3 graduates from the Washtenaw Community College (WCC) Public Service Training Police Academy and was recognized with two awardsmost improved physical fitness and highest academic. During the next 14 weeks, he will work with several Department of Public Safety (DPS) training officers to learn specific University and DPS policies and procedures before beginning solo patrols later this fall.
The U-M campus is a long way from central Europe, where Goci completed his high school education in clandestine, private schools.
"When the conflict between the Albanians and Serbians began, Albanian students could no longer study in our own language," he says. "So we went to schools in secret. The walk was about five miles one-way.
"My mom taught in the schools and she never got paid for more than four years. We were just tired from the threats and fear of being discovered."
When the NATO bombing began in 1999, Goci and his family were relieved.
"When the first bomb hit, I was so happy I can't describe it," he says. "It was like an angel was there to save us. The bombing lasted for a few days and then masked Serbian paramilitary troopers entered our home with AK47 rifles and told us to go to the train station. I was really afraid and the only things we were able to take with us were a few family pictures."
The train took Goci, his family and thousands of other refugees to the border with Macedonia, where everyone was dumped into an open field with no food or shelter for days. Eventually, thanks to efforts of family members in Switzerland and Westland, Mich., Goci and his family relocated to Michigan through an American-led refugee program.
"At first it was like an alien planet," he says of the United States. "Everything was biggerthe stores, streets and cars. I had always wanted to be here because we believed what we saw on CNN of the U.S. values and freedoms."
Goci took classes at WCC, where he first met DPS officers at a job fair. He began his U-M employment as a parking enforcement officer and later was promoted to public safety officer. Last year he became a U.S. citizen.
"People at DPS took me in and gave me the skills to get where I am now," Goci says. "At U-M, you also get to interact with lots of people who make a difference in the world."
One of the campus visitors Goci encountered is one of his heroes.
"Recently I got to meet one of my favorite leaders of all timeMadeleine Albright," Goci explains. "I got to talk with her and thank her for setting up programs that made it possible for my family to come here."
DPS Director Bill Bess thinks Goci is a great addition to the University. "We're very proud of Milot and his accomplishments," Bess says. "We believe he brings a great attitude and a wealth of experiences to our campus and to our department."
Goci speaks highly of U-M and DPS as well.
"People here have good attitudes. The students are cool, too."