It was an eventful day at Grand Valley State University last month, thanks to Jeff Crawford’s delivery of a $1,000 scholarship check to first-place LewerMark scholarship winner, Kibrom Gebre-Egziabher. Kibrom was sponsored by Kate Stoetzner, Director of International Student and Scholar Services at Grand Valley, in Allendale, Michigan.
Kate’s nomination, submitted with Kibrom’s essay, is published below:
I am happy to write a letter of recommendation for Mr. Kibrom Gebre-Egziabher. He is an excellent student and will work hard for every opportunity that comes his way. It has been his dream to pursue a career somehow related to the medical field.
He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. He excels in the classroom. This past summer, a faculty member told him that it was unrealistic to take the courses that Kibrom was registered for, because the work load would be too much. Kibrom received all A's in the courses. He is hard working, smart, and capable.
Kibrom's story is amazing. His drive and the reason for his drive, I have not seen equaled in my years working with international students. He was orphaned at birth in Ethiopia. SOS - Children's Village in Mekelle, Ethiopia is where he was raised. He excelled there as a boy and went on to SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College (High School) in Tema, Ghana. He was training to be an auto mechanic, because that was the best opportunity for him. He was offered a scholarship and attended Calvin College, and performed well there. He has been enrolled taking additional science courses at GVSU, primarily because his advising at Calvin didn't have him taking all of the necessary courses for a career in medicine.
If ever there was a student that deserved a hand up, he should surely be considered. He lives day-to-day not knowing what his future holds, but knowing that if he works hard, opportunities may open. I have been working with him since he started at GVSU and have recently helped him to secure food, housing, and other needs.
He doesn't let his personal life control his academic life. He doesn't have a home to go to in Ethiopia and is trying to make a future for himself here, in the United States. I've been working with him to try to secure funding for the future semesters, and although that is difficult, we are both hopeful that the stars will align.
I hope that you will see that this student has a very bright future. He is excellent in the classroom and out of the classroom. He has made a future for himself by valuing education and working hard to make connections with people that can help him to pursue his dreams.
I enthusiastically and without reservation recommend Kibrom to the LewerMark Scholarship program. He is a deserving recipient.
In Kibrom's winning essay, he writes about his experiences with growing-up in an orphanage in Ethiopia, watching his best friend, Abebe, die of HIV-Aids, and why he wants to be a doctor. The following are exerpts from Kibrom's essay:
"In the summer of 2006, a visit to my home-country, Ethiopia, inspired me to be a medical doctor. My best friend from childhood, Abebe, had contracted HIV-Aids. I visited him in the local hospital and he told me he only saw a doctor once in the last five months. I did not ask why; I knew the answer: there were only two or three doctors available for the nearly 80,000 citizens. Two months later Abebe died.
I knew many other untold stories were out there. Many families were left without mother, father, sister or brother. In some cases, even children were born with the disease and many others left without anybody to care for them. My late friend's wife was fortunate to be HIV-negative, but her and their two children did not have any means of support. These stories echo from all corners of Ethiopia and Africa."
Please click here to visit the LewerMark website where you can read Kibrom's moving essay in its entirety.
According to Jeff Crawford, the presentation at Grand Valley State was a meaningful occasion. “This is the second time that Grand Valley has had a student place first in the LewerMark scholarship program. It was great to get to know Kibrom and to learn more about his goals. Obtaining financial assistance for education and medical school is a challenge for international students, and it is expensive.
“Kate commented that we awarded a very deserving student,” continued Jeff. “Selecting the final winners of our annual scholarships is always a challenge and, after meeting Kibrom, I am confident that our panel of judges at Lewer made an excellent choice.”