Pharmacy School Helps Native Ethiopian Achieve American Dream

JUNE 18, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor
A story out of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) demonstrates the perseverance of a newly graduated pharmacy student whose education first began in northern Ethiopia.

Getahun Weldeselassie, now a United States citizen, currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and son. However, he grew up in a poor area in Ethiopia, wanting to go to college, even though he knew it would be a difficult trek.

“Opportunities were very, very narrow,” Weldeselassie told UCSF. “Only the top students could go to college, and the chances were very slim."

Weldeselassie said he was 1 of 2 students from his school chosen to go to Ethiopia’s best university for higher education, and he was assigned to study pharmacy. At the time, he was glad he had been chosen for the profession, because he was interested in the subject and thought he could a good living, he told UCSF.

Weldeselassie got lucky a second time when he was able to snag a green card from the US Diversity Visa Lottery, which allowed him to travel to San Francisco. In 2011, he started classes at UCSF and graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree about a month ago.

Now, Weldeselassie wants to pursue a job that will allow him to work with low-income families and others who have immigrated to the United States, UCSF reported.

“We can make service much better when we understand the patient,” he told UCSF, noting that he has experienced both living in poverty and transitioning to a new country. “I’ve been through it. I completely understand what those needs are.”