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A Better Future for Ethiopia

January 4, 2018

Chemical engineering student Eleni Beshah is determined to bring the knowledge she acquires at UMD back to Addis Ababa.

When sophomore Eleni Beshah was 11 years old in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she took a book off her father's shelf. Following the diagrams, she lit up a light bulb by connecting it to a battery. Next, she made a simple circuit, a parallel circuit, and a parallel series... all by herself.

Eleni Beshah

Eleni Beshah

When Eleni came to UMD, she received the Elliott Scholarship for the Sciences, funded by Dick and Patty DeLano and Anne Lewis. The scholarship honors Elliott John Bayly, a Duluthian who founded an innovative wind generator company in Duluth. The goal of the award program is to provide opportunities to students from developing countries in which women are at a disadvantage, empowering them through education to better lives and circumstances for themselves and others.

Eleni's goals match the scholarship's purpose. If her dreams come true, Eleni will finish her chemical engineering undergrad and graduate programs and return home to Ethiopia. She'll visit her parents, and spend some time with her father in his workshop, where he still keeps his textbooks.

"I would like to create my own independent area of work that will provide opportunities for minorities and women in the engineering field," Eleni says. "I'm part of a new generation coming to make a change not only in Ethiopia but also the whole continent of Africa."

More than half of Ethiopia's population live below the poverty line and at the same time the economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Nevertheless, the country's leaders are taking a leading role with the United Nations in developing a climate resilient green economy. Eleni sees a future where many more people use solar energy for heat and light and where clean water is available to everyone.

She wants to join Ethiopia's efforts.

"I want to know everything, physics, chemistry, engineering, so I can join others who are making big changes. This scholarship is going to help me help others.”

Chemical Engineering Department

Photos by Alex Messenger

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