Blog by LSSNCA volunteer, Jaclyn Goddette
Growing up in his home country of Ethiopia, Tefera Mengistie was interested in movement. He observed trucks and other vehicles transport people and wondered how they worked. He also saw that these machines held the solutions to big problems.
“I wanted to see the lives of those whom I grew up with in my community change,” said Tefera. “The change would happen if industrialization expanded across the country.”
He decided to study mechanical engineering, a broad field that studies moving systems. Then, after fleeing Ethiopia in 2017 for the hope of a better life, his career in mechanical engineering came to an abrupt halt. But a scholarship from the LSSNCA helped put Tefera’s dream back in motion.
The Bold Journey Scholarship — awarded each year to LSSNCA clients seeking to improve their lives through education — helped Tefera pursue his career in America. Like many immigrants who held professional experience prior to arriving America, Tefera discovered that re-credentialing can be an expensive yet necessary process.
“For an immigrant whose entire income is dependent on survival jobs that earn minimum wage,” said Tefera, “we can only cover daily expenses. The Bold Journey scholarship program helped me partially cover the expenses and eased my financial burden.”
The financial assistance Tefera received from the 2020 Bold Journey Scholarship allowed him to take courses at Montgomery College, familiarizing him with U.S. customary units and giving him advantage in a competitive job market.
In addition to the Bold Journey Scholarship, LSSNCA provided Tefera with job coaching, resume development, and resettlement services. The work of LSSNCA case managers and job developers was invaluable to Tefera as he acclimated to life in the United States.
“Understanding the rules, regulations, way of life, and language prevented me from integrating with the community. However, in a short period of time, with the help of some NGOs like TASSC and LSSNCA, I managed to know the community and familiarize myself with the U.S. culture.”
Tefera also took advantage of every opportunity to better himself. His resilient spirit distinguished his Bold Journey Scholarship application, as consideration is weighted towards applicants who have demonstrated the ability to achieve in the face of adversity.
Tefera plans to complete his studies this year and start work. Engineering uses math and science to solve problems, and Tefera is excited to apply his education to any of a wide range of technical fields.
“I would encourage any LSSNCA client in financial stress to apply for the scholarship and make their dreams come true,” he said.
In 2021, LSSNCA will award at least $10,000 in Bold Journey Scholarships, but you can help LSSNCA make an even bigger impact by donating to this fund.
LSSNCA is now accepting applications for the Bold Journey Scholarship from current and former LSSNCA clients. Additionally, clients of a Lutheran Social Ministry organization in the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod can apply to the Elizabeth Kreiser Weisburger Scholarship. Applications are due by Feb. 24. More information can be found here.