Travelers EDGE® Graduate Series – Belma Pehratović
In 2022, we marked the 15-year anniversary of Travelers EDGE® (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment). Since 2007, Travelers EDGE has provided a unique, sustainable school-to-career pipeline for hundreds of underrepresented students. As we mark this milestone anniversary, we look back on the extraordinary achievements our alumni have accomplished and the legacy they have left behind. We reached out to Travelers EDGE graduates to hear their stories and learn about the success they forged for themselves and their families.
“Strength in Diversity” – Belma Pehratović (2020 graduate)
“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
That’s Belma Pehratović’s piece of advice for future Travelers EDGE scholars. Belma says Travelers EDGE instilled a sense of pride in her that she now carries with her everywhere.
“Travelers takes diversity and inclusion seriously,” Belma said. “And I take that seriously. They don’t just put their name on things and provide financial support – they foster their programs to be inclusive, impactful and helpful to those they affect.”
Belma is a first-generation refugee. She came to the U.S. in 2000 from Bosnia and Herzegovina and has lived in Hartford ever since. She learned about the Travelers EDGE program in her junior year of high school and made it her mission to be selected as a scholar.
The next summer she succeeded and started her first internship with Travelers.
After being selected as a Travelers EDGE scholar, Belma decided to attend the University of Connecticut (UConn), a Travelers EDGE partner school. Not only was she able to choose a school that was the right fit for her, but the program also helped her to choose without immense financial pressure.
“If it wasn’t for [Travelers] EDGE, I wouldn’t have been able to choose UConn,” she said. “The financial burden was lifted.”
Belma emphasizes that Travelers EDGE opened many doors for her but acknowledges that being a Travelers EDGE scholar is also a lot of work.
“We had to start college classes before everyone else through summer bridge programs,” she said. “We had monthly meetings and we constantly had to revise our resumes to ensure we stayed ready and prepared for the job we wanted.”
The program’s mentoring resources also helped sharpen her professional skills. This guidance helped her navigate her way through the corporate world, not just as an employee, but also as a woman working in technology.
“The mentorship that Travelers EDGE provides is great because it teaches you everything,” Belma said. “When I was in college, I struggled with finding mentors from similar backgrounds, that understood the challenges that come with being from a minority group. Travelers EDGE helped me see that the differences in my background can be my strength. I am happy to be here, and I am grateful to work in a company that celebrates and leverages my diversity.”
Belma now works at Travelers in PI as a Data Engineer on the Machine Learning Operations team within Data and Analytics and says she loves it. She reiterates how low the odds are for first-generation refugees to make it as far as she did. She often thinks about how different her life would have been if she had stayed in Bosnia, or if she had not been introduced to Travelers EDGE. This realization has shaped what success looks like to her.
“I didn’t have professional role models to look up to – now I have little cousins, ages five and eight, who follow everything I do,” she said. “Now, I measure my success in and outside of work by how good of an example I can set for them. You have to believe in yourself, trust your abilities, and set the tone for generations to come.”
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