Ethiopia’s Equity and Merit Scholars celebrate at winter graduation
This year’s Winter Graduation saw the first five Equity and Merit Scholarships students from Ethiopia receive their awards and celebrate their academic achievements.
These were Aida Bayissa (MSc International Development), Binyam Andargie (MSc International Fashion Marketing), Brook Makonnen (MSc Environmental Governance)
Ruth Bezu (MSc International Development: Poverty, Inequality and Development) and
Yacob Tsegaye (MSc Communications and Signal Processing).
The Equity and Merit Scholarships are for academically excellent students who have the potential to make a significant contribution to sustainable development in their home countries.
Aida, who was attending the ceremony with her mother, said: “The graduation itself was great, oh yes. My mum was very proud. This was her first time in the UK and it was a great occasion to celebrate that.”
Now in its eleventh year, the Equity and Merit Scholarship has been awarded to nearly 300 students from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, with Ethiopia being the latest country to benefit.
Whilst the positive aspects of the scholarship are apparent, it still leaves the recipients with a lot of sacrifices to make. For example, prior to gaining her scholarship, Aida had a successful career in policy at the Tony Blair Institute in Ethiopia, as well as already having a master’s in Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
She adds: “It was a really a big decision. I left a successful job and career in my home country. It took a lot of sacrifice, but I knew it was what I wanted to do. I had no hesitation once I knew my application had been successful. So, yes, it was a big decision but it was also an easy one in the end.”
It was a really a big decision. I left a successful job and career in my home country. It took a lot of sacrifice, but I knew it was what I wanted to do. I had no hesitation once I knew my application had been successful. So, yes, it was a big decision but it was also an easy one in the end.
Plus adapting to a new culture and country can also be challenge, but Aida says the friendly nature of the University and city itself helped her settle in: “Manchester is a very welcoming place. Of course there were some adjustments.
“The weather for example, I came in August when it was meant to be summer and it was raining, but that’s true Manchester, right? But overall it was a very positive experience from the day I arrived. I’m very happy I chose to come here and have no regrets at all.”
However, had it not have been for a tweet on social media by a high profile member of university staff, Aida may have never applied to Manchester at all: “I saw the Equity and Merit Scholarship in a tweet by the Chancellor, Lemy Sissay. I follow him on social media due to his connections with Ethiopia and a charity I have worked with. Once I saw that it peaked my interest and the rest is history as they say.”
Aida now aims to use her extensive knowledge and varied skillset to set up her own policy-based consultancy that will work with governments and international agencies.
Joanne Jacobs, from the University’s International Office, oversees the Equity and Merit Scholarships, said: “Having the full cohort of Equity and Merit scholarships from Ethiopia attend our Winter Graduation is a really special occasion.
“Graduations are always a time of celebration and our Equity and Merit scholars really do change lives but that’s only because of the calibre of the recipients and the amount of hard work and effort they put in. That’s why it was such an honour to welcome them back.”