From Rural Ethiopia to UC Berkeley

Lelisa Bera is graduating on Wednesday, May 22, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. (Photo: UC Berkeley)

UC Berkeley

From Farming in Rural Ethiopia to Graduating from UC Berkeley

Growing up in rural Ethiopia, Lelisa Bera knew that getting an education wasn’t a given. It was a privilege that many parents couldn’t afford to give their children.

He was born in a village in the Oromia Region called Dawo Saden, where his mom and dad worked as farmers. They spent long hours in the fields harvesting vegetables and grains, and tending to cattle and goats. By age 5, Lelisa began to help his parents with the labor.

“There was not much to inspire you to go to school,” he says. “I would see one student going to school from one area, another from a different area. But for most kids, their families needed them to stay home and help at the farm. There’s a very high illiteracy rate.”

When Lelisa turned 7, his mom decided that he would go to school. It was a long walk — three hours, round trip — and Lelisa didn’t own a pair of shoes. But his mom hoped education would be a worthwhile investment, so she pushed her son to make the daily trek.

On Wednesday, May 22, Bera, now 32, will receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley. It’s an accomplishment that he sees not as an ending, but as a launching-off point for sharing what he’s learned at Berkeley with the world.

And without a teacher who gently encouraged him to think bigger, he might never have made it to where he is today.

Read more »

Watch: UC Berkeley students long journey to graduation started in Ethiopia (abc7news)


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.



 

 

 

 

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.