Philanthropy, Family and Fashion


November 3, 2020

Words by: Erin Slobodian

Photography by: Tatyana Semenova

Getting To Know Jelena Bojic.

This statuesque powerhouse of a woman spends her days looking for ways to support students in Edmonton and her nights enjoying her family and friends. The Concordia University of Edmonton’s Director of Community Relations is passionate about building solid relationships and about choosing the right words to convey her message. We are especially pleased to find out a little bit more about Jelena Bojic who is also a cornerstone member of the Modern Luxuria team.

We think it would be fascinating to learn about your earliest memory. What is it?
Being in my grandparents’ house. I grew up in Tivat, Montenegro, but I would spend winter holidays at their place in a small town called Leposavic in Serbia. One of my earliest memories is being wrapped in a bath towel by my grandmother Angelina. Her soft hands and loving eyes made me always feel safe, loved and cared for. Definitely a memory that I will treasure forever. I was fortunate to have my son experience her loving and caring personality as well, as they met year after year there, until she passed in 2019. It’s not easy to keep these connections going when you live on one continent and most of your family on another, but we try.

Who has had the largest impact on you becoming the person you are today and why?
I have to say that would be my son Filip. I think your world changes forever when you start caring for another human being. Someone is there ready to learn, think, experience things and you’re there to guide them, so it definitely changes you along the way. He’s almost 16 and I still can’t believe where the time has gone. But every day I learn something from him, and that’s the beauty of being around kids. They are pure, genuine, honest and will tell you when you’re doing something right and when you’re not. We have the best conversations. I’m fortunate that he’s a chatty and open teenager who loves to talk, so every day we talk about school, friends, work, colleagues, world politics, deep topics, and everyday stuff. And I know way more about soccer than I ever thought I would. If I am preparing a presentation, he’s my panelist the night before. I’m very grateful for having him in our lives.

This has been a difficult year for most. What is one lesson – major or minor — that you have learned in 2020?
Oh yeah, it’s been tough. I’ll give you one of each! Minor — and maybe not so minor — I learned that I need to be more active. It’s an important part of my life now, and I’m happy I’ve created this habit. This year, I’ve done more walking than ever before. I’ve walked some wonderful paths around the city, including Millcreek Ravine, Cloverdale, Rossdale, Highlands, and many other areas in my spring/summer walks, and found that it was such a great way to connect with friends. We laughed, cried, we were sad about having to cancel travel plans and happy to be healthy and living in a safe place. Now I’ve made it into a ‘thing’ and I want to keep it going forever. My plan is to still walk during the winter months, but we’ll see. After living in Edmonton for 21 years, maybe it’s time to embrace the winter city and start doing more outdoor activities. Major thing I learned…is that we are so connected as a human race, and how things can impact all of us on a global scale, how dependent on each other we are, and how we should learn from this pandemic that we need to work together, remove barriers and support each other better.

How did you spend your time during the COVID-19 quarantine and lockdown this spring?
I’m fortunate to have the ability to work from home, and for that I am very grateful. My job is to connect with community and corporate leaders who support higher education, and to organize various philanthropic activities at Concordia University of Edmonton. So, I planned virtual fundraising events, connected with various people and organizations, had a lot of Zoom meetings and raised funds to support students. The best part of my job is getting to know community builders and philanthropists who spend countless hours volunteering and supporting various causes in the city. It’s admirable and so inspiring – being around them makes me constantly look for ways to improve myself. I spent a lot of time with my family. My husband runs a business in Wainwright, so we make a lot of short, one or two-day trips there. It’s a wonderful community there that we love being a part of. I also got to write for Modern Luxuria, which was a treat. I’ve been able to interview some incredible women and share their stories.

This statuesque powerhouse of a woman spends her days looking for ways to support students in Edmonton and her nights enjoying her family and friends. 

What is your pet peeve?
Being late. I am always worried that I’m going to be late, so I usually end up being super early with time to fill. But that’s what podcasts are for.

If you could go back in time, what message would you tell your 20 year-old self?
Trust yourself. I wish I could say that to the 20 year-old me, but I know all these important life lessons you have to learn on your own. I’ve always questioned myself and over-analyzed. Now I’d say: go for it, your instinct is on point and you’ve got it! And don’t be so afraid to fail. My fashion choices are inspired by where I came from — Montenegro is well known for women always being fashionable, trendy and stylish so I think it’s something that started years ago when I was very young. Over the years my style has become a lot more relaxed but I still love the classic, elegant and sophisticated looks. It’s always fun to find a current trend that works for you and add that to the season’s look.

What brings you joy?
My family, my friends. Food, espresso, wine, travel. Fashion. Books, podcasts, cooking, good conversations. My work. How many things can I fit here? I try to find joy in everyday life. Going for coffee on a beautiful patio at Café Bicyclette. Meeting new people and hearing their stories. Going to a live music performance. Another thing that brings me joy is seeing more women in leadership positions. I follow the incredible Jacinda Ardern and feel so much joy that she’s performing so great in her prime minister role, along with being a family woman and many other things in between. She’s a sign to all of us that it is possible. We have to take more chances, we have to be more active in helping each other get there. Women that mentor and support other women bring me a lot of joy.

How do you define the concept of “luxury”?
I think that concept changes in various stages of your life. Right this moment, I’d say the concept of luxury is a state of complete well being: mental, emotional and physical. Once you have all those, you are strong, resilient and can take the ups and downs of life. And that is absolute luxury, because wherever you are in that cycle of ups or downs, the other one is right around the corner.

If you asked me this a few years ago, my answer would likely be different. But we learn and grow all the time.

What does “luxuria” mean to you?
Luxuria to me means to achieve a lifestyle that we love. Or in other words, to love what we have.

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