‘Young Visionary’ receives national recognition

Bowling Green freshman Kenan Mujkanovic, holds the National Caring Award he received for creating the Young Visionaries Foundation on Saturday, Oct. 22. Out of 10 thousand nominees, Mujkanovic was one of five who won the award which is presented in Mother Teresa’s name. “I owe this city and it’s people a lot for molding me into the person I am today,” Mujkanovic said. “My people gave me this opportunity so I’m not going to take it for granted.” Brendan O’Hern/HERALD

Jamie Williams

After starting a nonprofit organization when he was 16-years-old, a WKU freshman has become the first person from Bowling Green to receive the National Caring Award.

Kenan Mujkanovic started the Young Visionaries Foundation in order to give back to the Bowling Green community, he said. The foundation has since then worked on various projects in Bowling Green including providing meals to those in need, supplying books to children and cleaning up Greenways trails.

On Saturday, Mujkanovic received the National Caring Award –– an award previously won by Pope Francis, Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou. In addition to being the first person from Bowling Green to be presented with the award, he is also the seventh Kentuckian and first Bosnian to receive the honor.

“I’m just beyond blessed,” Mujkanovic said. “Just thinking back on my journey and everything that I went through, it’s just heartwarming, and I’m just thankful.”

The National Caring Award is given to those who have made “a long-term commitment to social improvement” and who have “made an impact that will last their lifetime and beyond,” according to The Caring Institute’s website.

Zak Ahmed, co-founder of The Young Visionaries and Mujkanovic’s friend of 10 years, said he could not express how proud he is of Mujkanovic for winning the National Caring Award.

“I’m honestly really, really happy that he did,” Ahmed said. “He literally works so hard; I’ve never seen someone work as hard as he has.”

Mujkanovic, the son of two Bosnian immigrants, struggled during his childhood. In the third grade, he tutored his parents to pass the United States’ citizenship test, and he helped his father build the family’s first house by hand. He now strives to make a difference in the lives of children by inspiring them to take action and follow in his footsteps.

“Whenever they see my story they get inspired, and whenever they see what I do they get inspired,” Mujkanovic said. “That just encourages them to chase their dreams and make their dreams a reality. That’s the main thing of my foundation –– it’s just to help kids make their dreams come true.”

Mujkanovic also wants to show young visionaries they should always take the opportunity to chase their dreams, even if others don’t fully support them.

“Whenever you have an idea that’s so big and a dream that’s so big to you, and you try to tell other people, they can’t see what you see,” Mujkanovic said. “Most likely they will not support you, but that’s why you have to show them.”

Karen Foley, Mujkanovic’s mentor, has supported the foundation by connecting The Young Visionaries to other organizations and community leaders.

“The Young Visionaries Foundation has sort of taken the strategy of not just focusing on one particular cause,” Foley said. “They’re not just focusing on one particular issue. They start from the premise of ‘anyone can make a difference, so let’s go make a difference in as many different things as we can.’”

The Young Visionaries’ next event will be an annual turkey giveaway on Thanksgiving, which marks the foundation’s two year anniversary.

Mujkanovic will also be publishing a collection of stories from youth in Bowling Green, set to be released in the near future. He hopes that the stories will inspire visionaries from small towns and teach them to chase their dreams.

“Young Visionaries really changed my life, and Kenan changed my life,” Ahmed said. “I’ll be forever grateful for that.”

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].