Name: Tsewone Melaku

University: University of Washington

Major: Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE)

Class: 5th year

High School: Ingraham High School and Chief Sealth International High School

Tsewone’s advice for fellow Scholars:

Tsewone is highly involved in clubs and organizations on her University of Washington (UW) campus. Her best advice to other Scholars is to find organizations that you enjoy being involved with, which will make it easier to prioritize your time and participate.
She also feels like learning time management skills is critical. She emphasized the importance of balancing extracurriculars with class work. Classes, of course, should always come first. She’s found that the work she does outside of the classroom merits the juggling act it requires to stay involved.

Receiving scholarship dollars has also helped Tsewone make time for extracurricular activities. In addition to being a WSOS Scholar she also received the Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship and Zesbaugh Scholarship, which meant she didn’t have to add a job on top of all of her other responsibilities.

Getting involved with organizations she cares about provided opportunities that she wouldn’t have received otherwise. She met lots of new people and built relationships through these connections.

Tsewone also found there was a lack of connection between on-campus communities, which is something she wanted to change. Her belief is that improving connections between campus organizations will produce better outcomes for both the organizations and people involved.

Can you tell us about one of the organizations you worked with outside of class?

Tsewone participated in the UW’s Dream Project. The Dream Project teaches UW students to mentor first-generation and low-income students in King County high schools as they navigate the complex college admissions process. Tsewone participated as a high schooler and decided to mentor as a college student.

Tsewone related to the students she met in the Dream Project, since she herself was in their shoes not long ago. As a leader in the program she felt like there were aspects of the Dream Project that weren’t best meeting the needs of the kids they intended to help; often because mentors couldn’t relate to their mentee’s culture or experiences.

Before leaving her role in the organization, she worked hard to make some critical changes. She helped change the mission statement. She also helped modify the curriculum to more directly address the social inequities many of the students face in the Dream Project while trying to navigate the path to higher education.

Through her connections to other organizations, Tsewone helped the Dream Project recruit student leadership and staff who can better reflect the diversity of the students they serve. She’s satisfied with the result.

“It makes me so happy to know that thousands of students will have better experiences with the Dream Project now and in the future,” said Tsewone.

Tsewone’s next step:

In November, she attended Afrotech in San Francisco. Afrotech is a conference for Black techies and entrepreneurs to come together and discuss the industry. She had this amazing opportunity thanks to the HCDE program and UW College of Engineering that generously supported her on this trip.

After Afrotech, she attended the National Society of Black Engineers Region VI Fall Regional Conference in Garden Grove, CA. Tsewone sits on the regional board and planned the pre-college conference.

Looking further into the future, Tsewone is considering graduate school and full-time employment opportunities. She also plans to get a PhD one day related to STEM education or learning technologies.

“I am trying not to put all my eggs in one basket and just take the best opportunity that’s given to me,” said Tsewone