Erion Veliaj graduated from GVSU in 2002 with a major in Political Science. He has worked in many positions, including as a member of the Albanian Prime Minister's Cabinet as the Minister of Youth and Social Welfare. Currently, he is the mayor of Tirana, Albania’s capital city.
Veliaj said encouragement from his professors at Grand Valley helped him learn more about his chosen path and how he could use his talents for change. He said professor Polly Diven encouraged him to move to Kosovo for a year following NATO liberation efforts there to learn about international relations first-hand rather than via a textbook. Veliaj also said his experience with professor John Constantelos’ model-EU group was significant, as the students won a major tournament by running a mock government of Sweden. Constantelos also mentored Veliaj as he completed his capstone work in Rwanda following the proceedings of the genocide court in Kigali.
Veliaj's resume includes managing relief efforts for Kosovar refugees, participating in post-apartheid reconciliation initiatives in South Africa, and co-founding a leadership-training organization for Balkan youth. He has consulted with U.S. and European government agencies, traveled to more than 60 countries, and is fluent in at least four languages. A recent Ted Talk of his can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7IahTl6JdM
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