STAUNTON, Va. - Andrea Holman is graduating from Mary Baldwin College on Sunday, 14 years after her family fled Eastern Europe after a civil war.
"In 1991 there was a war against communism in former Yugoslavia, and Croatia broke off, and within Bosnia which is where I was born, I'm Croatian, from a Croatian territory within Bosnia, there was another small civil war going on at the time," says Holman.
Her dad, who was a high ranking military commander, was captured by militants.
"My father was a POW for five years and we didn't know if he was dead or alive."
She and her mother were held captive.
"For two years, my mom and I lived in a Muslim concentration camp for women, it was very rough."
Holman says that they were very close to losing their lives, but they eventually made it to the United States.
"We came with the bags on our back and we had to start all over, it was fight or flight from that point on," says Holman. "We were never suppose to survive."
Now, she walks in commencement to receive degrees in sociology and psychology. She is the first in her family to receive an American degree. She says she owes most of her gratitude to her mom.
"She took care of me, she kept me alive, and this is all is for her, we're doing this together," Holman says. "I feel as if today, I fulfilled a very big part of what is called the American dream, we moved here, we started with nothing."
Holman plans to go to law school and study international humanitarian law and is currently writing an autobiography about her life.
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