Resilient is an adjective which has been abundantly used throughout the past two years to describe the dedication and hard work that many have shown in the face of challenging times. This word best describes Tsebaot Getachew and her 7,688-mile journey to the University of Minnesota Crookston. Getachew is an international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia studying health science. As a first-year student, she has shown an enthusiasm for learning and an eagerness to involve herself in the many activities this campus has to offer. While spending her time working, involved in clubs and organizations, and participating in research projects, Getachew gains hands-on experiences that will pave the way for her future and assist in her dream of helping others.

“I don’t think in other universities that internationals get to be involved as much as here.”

Choosing to attend UMN Crookston was not an easy decision for Getachew. She was first interested in attending a university five hours away from her home in Ethiopia. This university, however, was located in a city where a civil war was occurring which created a dangerous environment in the surrounding area. Getachew and her parents worried about her safety if she were to attend classes in this city, and they decided it would be best to find another school to attend. At this time, leaving her home country for college became her new focus. She was familiar with the Twin Cities campus because her cousin was a student there, so she began to search for other campuses in the area. Through her research, she discovered UMN Crookston and was intrigued by the research opportunities the campus offered. Although she did not want to leave her family at home, she decided after a year of contemplation that UMN Crookston was the right choice to begin her collegiate studies.

Getachew’s transition to living in Crookston has been smooth, and she credits the people at UMN Crookston for helping her feel welcomed. Getachew noted, “It’s really nice for people here to accept us.” On her second day on campus, she was introduced to other international students and attended the International Student Orientation to learn more about being a student at UMN Crookston. Furthermore, she remembers being taken to Walmart for the first time and how she felt being treated like she was a local resident the entire time she was there. During the holiday break this past winter, she was also invited to Rae French’s home who hosted all of the international students who were not able to make it home. Each of these experiences were impactful for her because she was able to make connections with new people who became her friends and support her throughout her time at UMN Crookston.

In Ethiopia, the snowy winters of Crookston are a rare sight for local residents due to the warm temperatures common to the African countries located just above the equator. After Getachew moved to Crookston, she excitedly waited for winter to draw closer so she could experience snow for the first time. She and another friend who had never seen snow before made a plan with one another: “If it snowed we were going to call each other; it didn't matter if it was midnight, and we were going to experience it together.” On Halloween, a small flurry of snow raised Getachew’s hopes up, but it was not enough snow for her to truly experience it. A few weeks later, Crookston received its first real snow storm and Getachew was ecstatic. That day, she and her friend made snow angels and enjoyed every moment of this new weather experience.

The snow was not the only new experience Getachew enjoyed during her first year. She also enjoyed joining many organizations and clubs on campus. To accompany her major and learn more about what to expect after graduation, she became a member of the Pre-Health Club. Getachew holds many leadership positions as well, including a board member of the Multicultural International Club, Social Affairs Senator for the Crookston Student Association, and Secretary for the Black Student Association. Even within her busy schedule, Getachew finds time to work two jobs on campus. As a Student Ambassador for the Office of Admissions and chemistry tutor in the Student Success Center, she is a positive role model by advocating and teaching the students of this campus.

In addition to the clubs and work experiences she is involved in on campus, Getachew jumped on the opportunity to conduct academic research last semester. In a biology class, her professor, Brian Dingmann, Ph.D, explained he would be conducting research and was looking for a student to accompany him with his project. Because of Getachew’s interest in health sciences, she immediately expressed her interest in the opportunity. For the next three years, Getachew and Dingmann will be studying the inhibition of bacteria in hopes to find a sample that will help attack other harmful bacteria. Getachew is thrilled that she was able to begin this process as a first-year student. “I don’t think anybody, like as a freshman, would get the opportunity that I got here in a bigger college,” Getachew stated.

All of the research Getachew has conducted at UMN Crookston will be beneficial for her major as well as her future. She was initially drawn to the health science field because of the healthcare she witnessed in Ethiopia. With the shortage of healthcare workers and the lack of access to healthcare in her home country, she finds many people often fail to get the adequate care they need. She wants to reverse this trend by focusing on minimizing medical mistakes and adding to the number of healthcare workers in her country. “I just want to do something to help,” she explained. Her future goals include attending medical school and ultimately working within the healthcare field in Ethiopia.

With three more years left in her UMN Crookston journey, Getachew hopes to continue involving herself in more opportunities. She stated, “I don’t think in other universities that internationals get to be involved as much as here.” This campus has provided her and many other international students the opportunities they desire to be successful in their areas of interest. Getachew exemplifies the idea that hard work and taking a risk in the pursuit of a passion will provide you with endless opportunities to achieve your goals. It may have taken one year to decide to come to this campus, but by viewing all of Getachew’s achievements during her time here, it is evident this campus is the perfect place for her.

Written for the Spring 2022 Torchlight e-Newsletter.

Story Contact: Shawn Smith