Ivy League bound Beruktawit Gebreamlak speaks on her experience immigrating to the U.S

“I just hope that one day I will be in a position where I am able to give back and help support my community”

Beruktawit tutoring her classmate in math.

When she first came to the United States, Beruktawit Gebreamlak struggled with the language barrier and culture shock. Like the majority of immigrants, her journey was a difficult one but she was eventually able to overcome the challenges that came her way and distinguish herself amongst her peers.

Beruktawit Gebreamlak
Wilde Lake High School ‘22

Her Journey to the U.S

Beruktawit was born in Ethiopia and says that the main reason her parents decided to come to
the United States was to pursue more educational opportunities for her and her older brother. Her journey was a difficult one, the process was long and financially draining. “My family and I had to actually sell our valuable items in order to purchase the tickets.”

Her Initial Struggles

“Once we got here, It did not get any easier, there was a culture shock and there was a language barrier that got in the way of my education,” she explains. “It was very hard to communicate my ideas and ask questions… when I got my first report card I was devastated because I went from being this number one top student to having one of the lowest grades.” She confesses, “at the time I felt like I was stupid, like I wasn’t good enough.”

What Motivates Her

“I always think about the sacrifices my family had to make in order for me to get here. When I think about my father, I always think about how hard it must have been for him to be here two years alone by himself without his family, and all the things he had to do for us to come here to get better opportunities.”

Beruktawit wants to become an astronaut, and her goal and passion for science is something that really pushes her. “I don’t see many Ethiopians as astronauts or big in the science field and I think it would be really inspiring to others who are in my shoes to chase after their dreams regardless of their circumstances.”

How she contributes to help her community

“I am part of many clubs and organizations such as the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, mostly like any honor societies you could think of,” she says. “The majority of responsibilities that come from being in an honor society is volunteering.” Beruktawit volunteers by tutoring her peers in math, helping with food drives in her community, and being heavily involved in the organization of school related activities. She is also involved with Luminus, where she is part of the citizenship tutoring program, which helps new Americans prepare for the citizenship test.

Her accomplishments so far

“When I first came here, I went from getting the lowest grades that I could have ever gotten to being a straight A student by the time I got to seventh grade and it stayed consistent,” she explains. Through the highly selective Questbridge program, Beruktawit was selected as a finalist and received a full scholarship to Columbia University; she will be attending the prestigious school next fall.

Her advice to other young immigrants

“Don’t underestimate yourself, don’t let your circumstances put you down, if anything, let them be the reason that you push forward. You have to learn how to stand up for yourself, stand your ground. Hard work really pays off, and you cant let your chances go by, because some things just come once and then they go, take as many opportunities as you can.”