Updated June 20, 2018
Zaklina Stojkoski knows how to take initiative and lead the charge. Considering herself an independent woman, she is not easily discouraged. Instead, she focuses on the positive and possibilities, both of which she uses as motivation for herself and others at Hodges University.
Born in New Jersey, she and her family moved to Ohio when Stojkoski was 2 years old. Growing up with parents who worked in the hospitality industry, she began strengthening her customer service, leadership and management skills at a young age. “When I was 16 years old, I was managing one of the restaurants my parents owned in Ohio,” she said.
However, Stojkoski’s determination to separate herself from working solely for her parents led her to take a job at Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as spend two years as a volunteer on the labor and delivery floor at The Cleveland Clinic.
“I wanted to prove to others that I didn’t want to just work for my family. While working at Dunkin’ Donuts, the stress of dealing with so many customers at one time helped me to build character,” she said.
As a hospital volunteer, she was exposed to what would become her passion, which is to help care for others, and although her work responsibilities did not include assisting or providing care to patients, she became involved with the administrative side of health care.
“When I entered college at the University of Akron in 2011, I knew I wanted to major in nursing,” she said. Finishing her prerequisites, she was accepted into the School of Health Sciences in 2013; however, she was placed on a waiting list for entry into nursing school. Fearful that her schooling could potentially be delayed due to a waiting list, she decided to join her parents who had since moved to Naples, Florida.
Arriving in November 2014, she enrolled at Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) for one semester in January 2015 and worked at the restaurant her parents opened in Naples. Unhappy with her experience at FSW, a co-worker told her about Hodges. Spending much of her time researching the school, she met with an admissions coordinator in May 2015 and enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in health services administration program, which she began in fall 2015.
“I spent so much time in the library,” she said. “In fact, during the All-Club Holiday Party in Fort Myers last year, I won the award for ‘Most likely to close the library.’”
Attending classes on campus and online, Stojkoski admits she prefers the on-campus instruction because of her visual learning style; however, the convenience and flexibility offered through online classes enable her to maintain her busy schedule of attending school full time, as well as serving as the manager of her parents’ restaurant, The All-American Sports Bar in Naples.
“From Thursday to Sunday during season, I work 15-17 hour days at the restaurant,” she said. In addition to her work at the restaurant, Stojkoski also works as a showroom assistant at BouTeak by Jackie Morelisse Inc., which is one of the showrooms inside Miromar Design Center in Estero, Florida. Stojkoski works with clients who “want to create something new,” and admits she enjoys the sales experience she receives.
While gaining various types of experiences and strengthening her skill sets in the professional world, Stojkoski transfers many of the same skills into her work at Hodges. Uncertain of how she balances it all, she makes time to get involved on campus. Stojkoski is not only the president of Naples Ambassadors, but she is also the vice president of the Allied Health Club.
“I was at New Student Orientation in fall 2015 when I met Lisa Perry, who I found out was in Naples Ambassadors and the Allied Health Club. She told me about them, so I ended up going to a few different meetings and joining,” she explained. It wasn’t long after joining that she accepted leadership roles in both clubs.
Attending as many events as possible, she works to stay positive even when attendance may discourage others, saying, “It’s all about putting yourself in a good mindset.” Influenced by Perry and Professor A.J. Fielding, Naples Ambassador club adviser, she finds enjoyment in giving back to the community and encourages others to get involved no matter how busy their schedule may seem.
“Joining a club or organization will change your entire experience in college. When I was in high school, I was involved in six clubs, so, when I enrolled at Hodges, I knew I wanted to get involved. It opens so many doors and opportunities, and enables you to make friends,” she said.
Throughout her involvement on campus, Stojkoski has created lasting relationships with various faculty and staff, many of whom have provided scholarship reference letters and networking opportunities, saying, “If I wasn’t as involved as I am, I probably would have never met Dr. Marcia Turner. She told me to apply for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) scholarship, which I received in April 2016.”
In addition to the scholarships she has received while at Hodges, she has made the dean’s list every semester but one; however, she doesn’t let it get her down, saying, “Getting good grades pushes me to finish, and the support group I have between my parents, friends, co-workers and the people at Hodges, motivates me to keep going.”