The daughter of a Croatian immigrant, Laura Marenco grew up listening to her father’s stories of his family’s struggles while immigrating to the United States. These stories led Laura to a lifelong interest in the immigration process and its life-changing experience of moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar and adjusting to a completely different culture.
In 2012, while searching for a summer internship before her third year of graduate school, Laura originated the idea for Golden Beacon USA. During a discussion with Hogar Immigrant Services, an organization based in Manassas, Virginia, staff mentioned that their clients often ask about resources available to them in their newly adopted community. Combining her educational and professional background in the training and development field with her experiences from traveling to 48 states, Laura created and taught a resources workshop for the Hogar community. In her final year of graduate school, she wrote the business plan to turn these resource workshops into accessible and affordable e-learning videos covering the major metropolitan areas of the United States.
The Dekovich Family’s Immigration Story
In 1956, Laura’s grandparents Antonio and Nella, her father Alexander, and two uncles left on Antonio’s boat in the middle of the night to flee a Communist Yugoslavia. The trip was treacherous, with a storm threatening to capsize their tiny boat. The family was rescued by fishermen on a boat nearby and sent to a refugee camp in Italy. After spending a few years there, the Dekovich family finally traveled to the United States to start their American Dream. Antonio later recounted this story in the pages below entitled ‘It Happened to Me.’