Success Story of Eden Belete
Compiled by International Relations & Communication Office, SMU
Eden Belete is one of the 2022 graduates of St. Mary’s University, who was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. She graduated with Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Department of Management, extension program, with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0. Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU had time with Eden to share her experiences and the factors that contributed to her success. We have compiled and presented her story as follows.
The first question we forwarded to Eden was how she chose SMU and what her stay at the University looked like. Eden said, “When I decided to pursue my study in the extension program at a private university, because I was simultaneously pursuing my study at regular program in another private university at the time, I consulted one of my friends and this friend suggested to me to study at either St. Mary’s or Addis Ababa University. Finally, I preferred St. Mary’s due to its proximity to my home”.
Her stay at St. Mary’s University was very jubilant: the Department head and the secretary; the instructors, equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills, as well as good relationship with students; the good relationship among students were all factors that have contributed to her pleasant stay at the University. She said, “I have enjoyed every bit of it”.
The second question we forwarded to Eden was about factors that contributed to her success at the University. To this end, she replied, “I praise the Almighty God above and beyond anything! All my accomplishments would have been nothing if God had not been involved”. “The instructors were awesome: knowledgeable, skillful and with good character,” Eden continued. The instructors, according to Eden, were very much friendly, even outside classroom/campus, and forthcoming to encourage students to work hard. “Ato Biniyam Ahmed was one of them and he is the best! His holistic knowledge about the subject matter, his teaching methods which were accompanied with sense of humor, his follow up of assignments, were all wonderful!” she said enthusiastically. All instructors were encouraging her to work even more after she had scored the GPA of 4.0 in the first semester of her first year of study. Particularly, Ato Abeje, one of her instructors then, was encouraging her very much. Another contributing factor to her success was the overall system at the Undergraduate Program of the University, which was very friendly, starting from the registration process, which made things easy for her.
We asked Eden about her personal qualities that contributed to her success, of which she gave much credit to her reading habit since her childhood. Her fast mind, together with her reading habit, according to Eden, had helped her to easily grasp whatever she reads, including her handouts and notes. Her parents, who give much attention to education and are very supportive, had huge role in her success; they spared nothing to see her become successful, including paying her school fee to pursue her study in better schools and universities, supplying her with educational materials, and covering her other expenses, Eden said. “Without their support, I could not make it to this level”, Eden added appreciating and thanking her parents.
We also asked Eden about her time management skills. To this, she replied that, “As I was pursuing my study both in the regular (Unity University) and the extension (St. Mary’s University) programs simultaneously, I was very busy. Therefore, I did not put any work aside; I did my assignments immediately after class; I read my notes ahead of time and revised them one day before exam (spending the whole day in library)”, Eden reiterated.
Finally, we asked Eden to forward her advice to students who are studying at SMU to become successful, and she suggested the following: “Read! enrich your mind by reading since it is food to our mind; have positive attitude towards yourself; tell your mind that you can do anything, because we become what we tell our mind; have self-confidence; finally manage your time well; give your study a priority, other things will follow when time comes.”
Success Story of Yidnekachew Ejigu
Yidnekachew Ejigu is one of the 2021 graduates from Undergraduate Program, St. Mary’s University, who was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. He graduated from the Department of Computer Science, regular program, with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0. Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU had time with Yidnekachew to share his experiences and the factors that contributed to his success. We have compiled his story as follows.
First, we asked Yidnekachew how he chose SMU and what his stay at the University looked like. In responding to our question, he told us the following. Yidnekachew, upon completion of his preparatory education, was assigned to the Applied Physics department of the Addis Ababa University in the Year 2007 E.C. But, he could not continue his study due to critical financial problem, his parents encountered at the time. Therefore, he withdrew from the University and started doing different jobs to support his parents. But through time, he realized the difference between working as an educated person and working without having any education. He discussed with his mother that he needed to continue his study soon or it would be difficult for him to get back to college if he stayed any longer, to which his mother agreed. He went back to Addis Ababa University to re-start his study but he was informed that they would not accept him in the regular program. Then he consulted his brother about which field of study he needed to pursue and at which university. He finally decided to study Computer Science at St. Mary’s University after learning that it has excellent reputation among employing organizations and in terms of the quality education it offers, besides its being located near his residential area. Hence, he joined St. Mary’s University in 2010E.C. after discontinuing his education for more than three years. Yidnekachew told us that, “My stay at SMU was awesome in every aspect, even more than what I had expected.” He also told us that he practically proved what he heard about SMU previously: good quality education, which he also learned while applying for jobs, where he saw employers’ preference for SMU graduates over other HEIs.
In responding to the contributing factors to his success, Yidnekachew attributes his success mostly to his instructors. The instructors, according to Yidnekachew, were highly qualified and committed. He told us that, “The majority of instructors had requisite knowledge and skills and they made me to study hard to make them happy by fulfilling their expectation about me”.
Asked about his personal qualities that contributed to his academic success, Yidnekachew owes the feelings he developed about the three years he spent working to support his parents financially by discontinuing his education, while his friends were studying at different HEIs. This was a driving force, Yidnekachew told us, for his academic success: “It made me become stronger, helped me to commit myself to compensate for the wasted time and energy”.
Besides, Yidnekachew attributes his success to his parents. Yidnekachew said that his parents always regret that their son lagged behind his friends, quitting from college to support them financially by doing different jobs. To compensate that, they put much effort by providing him with material and financial support he needed, after their financial problem was solved overtime. Yidnekachew on his part, as reward to what they did for him, surprised his parents at the graduation ceremony by making it secret from them that he was graduating with CGPA of 4.0 and was a Medal and Trophy winner.
We also asked Yidnekachew about his time management. He says, “Most students think that they become successful by studying for longer time. But, I study each subject immediately after each class instead of waiting for exam or test time. I use the few days before the exam only for revision purposes. I attend my classes attentively and consider it as part of studying by itself”.
Asked about his advice to students who are pursuing their study at SMU, Yidnekachew responded that, “Most students think that success is a gift from God, and do not understand that it requires their personal effort.” He suggested that, “Students learn in different ways: some learn by listening, some by reading, some by writing, yet others by taking notes, etc. Therefore, students need to identify their learning style and follow it, to become successful in their study”.
As the tradition at St. Mary’s University has it, Yidnekachew was given full scholarship to pursue his Master’s study at the University. Yidnekachew is currently an academic staff at the Department of Computer Science, from which he graduated, while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s Degree in Computer Science at the School of Graduate Studies of SMU.
Success Story of Elias Anteneh
Elias Anteneh is one of the 2021 graduates of St. Mary’s University, who was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. He graduated with Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Department of Management, regular program, with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0. Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU had time with Elias to share his experiences and the factors that contributed to his success. We have compiled and presented his story as follows.
The first question we forwarded to Elias was how he chose SMU and what his stay at the University looked like. Elias, before joining St. Mary’s University, was first assigned to the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, Addis Ababa University in the year 2004 E.C., after he had passed the National Higher Education Entrance Exam. While he was in the second year, he lost his father who was the bread winner for the family. That incident turned the whole family upside down and subsequently put Elias into depression that had forced him to alienate himself from friends and relatives for nearly two months. The depression, together with other diseases, made things worse and he ended up withdrawing from the University. Elias returned back to the university after a year but the problem recurred and he withdrew again. He withdrew from the university three times and finally gave up and went to a Monastery in Southern Ethiopia where nobody knew him and he stayed there.
While staying at the monastery for more than six months, he started meditating, to find himself, his passion, and his life purpose. Finally, he asked himself questions and decided to choose between two options: to surrender and extend his miserable life, or confront and defeat the challenges of life through education. Besides, from the whole process, he understood that Engineering was not his call. He returned from the monastery with a new mindset, to become a new person looking for his passion.
As of March, 2010 E.C. Elias started preparing himself to re-start his study and help himself by doing different manual jobs such as aluminum work, working in a bakery, etc..
Elias discontinued his study at the Addis Ababa University, decided to shift from natural sciences field to social sciences after finding his life passion. With financial support from one of his friends at the Engineering College of Addis Ababa University, he joined St. Mary’s University in 2011 E.C. after learning that it is one of the most reputable Private HEIs. Fortunately, while he was tutoring children to earn money, he met one of his relatives, the father of his tutorial students, whom he had not known before. The person and his family allowed him to live with them. That was a great relief for Elias to not worry about where to stay, and to focus on his studies to earn excellent grades. He has become part of that family and is still living with them. He extended his thanks to this loving and caring family.
The second question we forwarded to Elias was about factors that contributed to his success at the University. To this end, Elias replied that he appreciated the place quality is given at St. Mary’s University. The instructors, according to Elias, were very much friendly, even outside classroom/campus, excellent in encouraging students to work hard. Their dedication, Elias told us, had made him to say, “I have to work hard, not only for my own sake, but also to make my instructors happy, fulfilling their expectations.” That is why he committed himself towards the realization of this. Another contributing factor to his success was the availability of sufficient reading materials at the University, both at the libraries and online.
We asked Elias about his personal qualities that contributed to his success, of which he gave much credit to the behavioral change he exhibited after the challenges he went through following the devastating death of his father. He reached at setting a learning goal:” I have to learn not for the but to acquire knowledge, I have to become problem solver, first for myself and then for the society at large.” He went on telling us that he reads a lot, he reads to gain knowledge, never limits himself to handouts provided by instructors, but rather enriches them through additional readings. That helped him a lot to satisfy his craving for a better knowledge. He also attributed his success to his commitment towards his study, and doing assignments with quality and concentration. As he was pursuing his study through many challenges, he learned for survival; he learned to conquer the challenges and become a winner.
Besides his personal qualities, negative comments from some people who undermined him during his hard time energized him to work hard, Elias told us. Particularly, he never forgets an incident where a brother of one of his friends called him “A failure.” Concluding that all people who know him might think the same way, Elias swore to himself to proof to all that he is “not a failure”. That has become a strong motivation for him to work hard to the end. Completing his study as soon as possible and supporting his elderly mother was also another positive pushing factor for him. The support from his friends had a very positive impact on his success. Had it not been for four of his friends who paid his tuition fee regularly, it would have been very testing to complete his study on time. He owes so much to them and extends his gratitude
We also asked Elias about his time management skills. To this, he replied that, “Time is my life; I never spend my time on things that are not value-adding. I spend my time reading books, discussing issues with friends, participating in different entertaining events at the University, I am punctual for classes as well as for any appointment, I budget my time well. We have to exploit all opportunities that time brings.” He continued saying that, “As a still water stinks after sometime, unused time is a wasted time” During his stay at the University, he gave priority to his study. “I am at the University to study, period! Therefore, I have to focus on my learning, I do not put any work aside. I revise after class what I learned in the morning. I finish studying a week ahead of exam time and use the week for revision”, Elias reiterated.
Finally, we asked Elias to forward his advice to students who are studying at SMU to be/become successful and he suggested the following: be aware of and adjust oneself towards the frequently changing international trends; be aware about what the job market needs ahead of time and work hard towards that; avoid shortcut in acquiring the requisite knowledge and skills, rather exert the required effort to achieve it; set a goal and commit oneself towards achieving that goal; manage your time; be disciplined, Develop reading habit, etc.
As the tradition at St. Mary’s University has it, Elias was given a full scholarship to pursue his Master’s study at the University. Elias is currently an academic staff at the Department of Management, from which he graduated, while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s degree in Business Management at the School of Graduate Studies of SMU.
Success Story of Sara Juhar
Sara Juhar is one of the 2020 graduates of St. Mary’s University who was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. She graduated from the Department of Accounting & Finance, regular program, with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0. Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU had time with Sara to share her experiences and the factors that contributed to her success. We have compiled her story as follows.
First, we asked Sara how she chose SMU and her stay at the University to which she replied as follows. Sara, upon completion of her preparatory education, joined Africa College, a Private College in Addis Ababa, as her parents like many other parents, were concerned for their daughter’s safety and did not want her to go out of Addis. She started studying Medicine at the College but was forced to discontinue her study due to health problem. After one year, she took her time to figure out what and where to study in consultation with her parents and by contacting different students who had studied in private universities in Addis Ababa, focusing particularly on two fully fledged private universities. Majority of the students recommended SMU to her and she joined St. Mary’s University in 2010E.C. At the beginning, Sara told us that, she had a problem in selecting a field of study but as she is good at Mathematics, she decided to join the Department of Accounting and Finance. Sara told us that her stay at SMU in general and the Department of Accounting and Finance was amazing and “everything, the instructors, the instruction, the environment, the library…were awesome even more than what I had expected.”
The second question we forwarded to Sara was the contributing factors to her success. In responding to the question, she started with the conducive environment of the University: the Library was very good, equipped with relevant learning materials, working extra hours including weekends. This was very suitable for her who mostly prefers to study in quiet places and the Library was very good in this respect.
Sara also attributes her success to her instructors. The instructors, according to Sara, were highly qualified and committed. The instructor of the course “Advanced Accounting”, in particular, was her favorite, Sara added. Sara went on that, students of her batch were also very good in many aspects: they collected various workout questions and solved it in groups, discussed among themselves, etc., which had a huge positive impact on her achievement.
Asked about her personal qualities that contributed to her academic success, her personal quality of setting target whenever she takes on something was another contributing factor to her success, Sara affirmed. The very first day she started her class, she had set a target to achieve a CGPA 4.0, and from that day on she worked to score A+ or A in each course.
In addition, Sara attributes her success to her parents. Her parents, Sara told us, are always very supportive. She is brought up among a family where reading is a culture and this has helped her so much in her study since childhood. Rewarding achievement is also a common practice in their household, which had contributed a lot to her success. Her parents give priority to her study and make her free of household chores which are mostly considered as the responsibility of girls in our society. They also provided her with material and financial support.
We also asked Sara about her time management. She is serious when it comes to using her time. She budgets her time among her courses and other personal chores including her recreation time. She also prioritizes and allocates time among her daily tasks by maintaining balance.
All of these cumulative factors finally helped Sara to meet her set target by scoring A and A+ in all courses and securing a CGPA of 4.0.
Asked about her advice to students who are pursuing their study at SMU, Sara told us that students, to succeed in their learning, should always set a target, a big target and work hard, be ready to pay what it takes to achieve it.
Success Story of Takele Getinet
Takele Getinet is one of the 2020 graduates of St. Mary’s University, who was awarded a Trophy. He graduated from the Department of Marketing Management, extension program, with a Cumulative GPA of 3.99. Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU had time with Takele to share his experiences and the factors that contributed to his success. We have compiled and presented his story as follows.
The first question we forwarded to Takele was how he chose SMU and what his stay at the University looked like. Takele, before joining St. Mary’s University, was first assigned to the Department of Statistics of Addis Ababa University in the year 2007 E.C., after he had passed the national higher education entrance exam. He had earned a CGPA of 3.9 during first semester, but he made up his mind and changed his field of study to Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Technology, during the second semester of the same year and earned excellent grades. After he realized that he was scoring highest grades and things were becoming easy for him, he decided to study a different field in extension program parallel to the regular program he was attending. He consulted his instructors on selection of fields of study and they recommended to him that he would better study marketing management. The challenge after that was choosing among private universities. First, he visited one of the private universities in Addis Ababa and the staff at that particular private university told him that he could complete his study in three years by attending classes only on weekends. But, he challenged the university’s staff asking how that could be materialized where it takes three years even in regular program in other universities. That also made him question the quality of instruction/education at the university and with that he cancelled his plan to study at the university and continued searching for a better private university. To do so, he consulted his friends and one of his friends told him that, “St. Mary’s University is very good and very strict in offering quality education, but they relatively are expensive”, Takele told us. He decided on the spot, went to St. Mary’s and registered at the Department of Marketing Management. It was a registration deadline!
When it comes to what his stay at SMU looked like, Takele told us that it was awesome in every aspect, “I loved and still love the University’s environment: the instructors, the instruction, the students, the family-like social connection among students and instructors, everything!” After I joined St. Mary’s, I loved and enjoyed it very much!
The second question we asked Takele was about factors that contributed to his success at the University. To this, Takele gave a lion’s share to the instructors. The instructors, according to Takele, were loving and caring, well-organized, excellent at motivating students to work hard. Their dedication, Takele told us, had made him to say, “I have to make my instructors happy by scoring excellent results” and he committed himself towards making this happen. Another contributing factor to his success was the well-organized handouts provided by the instructors, Takele added. He went on to say that the handouts covered pertinent topics and were adequate enough to equip students with relevant knowledge. He witnessed, this had a huge positive impact on his academic success.
Asked about his personal qualities that contributed to his success, Takele gave much credit to his time management skills. In telling us about how much he is firm on time management, he told us that, “For me, time was Gold, there was no single minute that I waste in vain, I do all my tasks on schedule: 13 hours for my study, 8 hours for rest and 3 hours for other routines”. Besides, he told us he does not have a problem of procrastination that he does his assignments on time. He also assisted other students with workouts and tutoring.
We asked Takele about what is behind all these personal qualities of his, that is, preparing and following schedule in doing tasks, his time management skills, and dedication to his study. He was firm when replying to our question. “It is my Father! My father brought me up to become a responsible person. I never forget what my father had been telling me since I was a child. “I don’t need your money; all I need is to see your name among the list of educated persons! I want to hear people saying that I have an educated child! That is enough!” This is a driving force behind all my efforts and successes, Takele reiterated.
Finally, we asked Takele to forward his advice to students who are studying at SMU to be successful and he suggested the following: be committed to what one is doing, love and work hard towards achieving one’s goal; utilize time properly and effectively and abide by the rules and regulations of the University.
As the tradition at St. Mary’s University has it, Takele was given a full scholarship to pursue his Master’s study at the University. Takele is currently an academic staff at the Department of Marketing Management, from which he graduated, while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s Degree in Marketing Management at the School of Graduate Studies of SMU.
Talent Search: a key to Success
Prince Dereje – one of the 2019 graduates of St. Mary’s University – was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. He graduated from the Department of Accounting and Finance with Cumulative GPA of 4.0. Following his graduation, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU, aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their study at SMU and beyond, asked Prince how his stay at St. Mary’s was and the factors that contributed to his success.
Prince, before joining SMU, was assigned at Hawassa University to study Medicine. But, he was frustrated very much due to lack of adequate experience of the world outside home. Since he had to deal with a wide range of challenges caused by the new environment that was entirely strange to him, he was unable to give full attention to his studies although the field of Medicine strongly required him to work hard. He informed his parents the situation but they pushed him to stay and continue his study.
After more than two years of stress, frustrations and missing classes, his life direction was changed when his childhood friend, who was involved in the activities of a certain social marketing company, facilitated for him to attend some training sessions, meetings, and watching motivational videos, while still studying at Hawassa University. Prince told us that although he did not join the social marketing company, the different sessions of the company that he had attended, the motivational videos he had watched and the inspiring books he had read, especially the book “The Science of Being Great” by Wallace D. Wattles, woke him up. But, as he had already missed many classes and lectures, he decided to discontinue his study.
In 2007 E.C., he came back to Addis Ababa interrupting his schooling without formal withdrawal. With his passion and interest for literature, he published two books in 2007 E.C. & 2008E.C., respectively and he told us that selling those books helped him to connect with different people, even though the income was not as he had previously expected. At the same time, he had planned to start his own business. Despite all these, his mother persistently pushed him to continue his education.
Subsequently, he joined St. Mary’s University in 2009 E.C. to study Accounting and Finance following the suggestion of one of his friends. He told us that he was easily convinced as he had learned that SMU has good reputation. He dedicated himself to study hard and registered excellent results. During our interview, he appreciated the instructors, their well-organized instruction, their assessment techniques, and the well-organized handouts.
Prince attributes his achievement to many factors – mainly his instructors. After he joined SMU, he was highly impressed, particularly, by the strict behaviour and commitment of the instructors. According to him, the instructors, particularly, Ato Meseret, the instructor of a course titled, Principles of Accounting, he told us, was great. Secondly, the well-organized handouts, which provide the highlight and allow students to expand their knowledge and skills based on the highlights, coupled with the refined teaching methods the instructors had employed, were highly impressive. Thirdly, the assessment techniques the instructors used to monitor the progress of their students were also of high importance. Fourthly, the presence of a very clever student called Lealem in his class made him work extra hard. The student, according to Prince, was very strong and the competition between the two was not like that of the rivalry, but it had “a good sense of competition”, as he put it. They both actively participated in class activities and supported each other very well.
On top of all these, the support from his parents, particularly his mother, was amazing. Prince also added that, “My Mom, acknowledged how much I changed, understood me well, and gave me a freedom to lead my own life and follow my own path. She advised me like a friend. That was a key to my success”.
Another contributing factor to his success, mentioned by Prince, was his personal quality, strict time management. He always tells himself why he is there at the University i.e. “I am there to learn, period!” He plans his time ahead and acts accordingly.
To draw lessons for those who are pursuing their study at SMU and beyond, we paused a question to Prince about his personal qualities that contributed to his academic success and he responded as follows.
Prince told us that students, to succeed in their learning, should know the following. First of all, they should know their dream, what they intend to achieve. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time. Second, they need to attach their dream to their learning. Third, they need to stop leaning if they are simply looking for a degree, but rather they need to study to acquire the required knowledge and skills. Once they are convinced that learning is mandatory and they are there to learn, they have to accept that and work hard to achieve.
Following the tradition, at St. Mary’s, of awarding graduates with Very Great Distinction employment and graduate study scholarship opportunities at the University, Prince is currently a Graduate Assistant in the Faculty of Accounting and Finance, from which he graduated while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance at Graduate School of the University.
Bitanya Kassu, a graduate of SMU, was awarded a Trophy and a Medal at the 2018 graduation ceremony. Bitanya graduated from the Department of Marketing Management, regular program, with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0.
The International Relations and Communication Office of SMU, aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their study, asked Bitanya about her stay at St. Mary’s and the factors that contributed to her success. Accordingly, she shared her story.
Before joining SMU, Bitanya had pursued her study at the University of Gondar with major in Medicine. She studied at the University only for one year but discontinued her study because she learned that the field required extreme hard work which according to her, was beyond her capability and subsequently put her under stress. After leaving the University, she decided to pursue her study in a different field at a private university in Addis Ababa. She together with her mother looked into the options to choose a field of study and the university to join. Marketing Management was a field she felt appealing to her interest and St. Mary’s University, they felt, stands “first among the private universities”. “A friend who had studied at St. Mary’s also confirmed the same truth to us”, she said. Therefore, she joined St. Mary’s to study Marketing Management.
While reasoning out that her personal qualities and commitment were key factors for her remarkable achievements, Bitanya attributes her success to cumulative efforts of different parties - the University’s teachers, academic environment and the support from her parents. The instructors at her department were very good at pushing students to read a lot by giving students various individual and group assignments. Particularly, those assignments which required students to conduct interview and compile findings in an organized manner, had helped her acquire skills to organize herself in general and build a sense of self-esteem and self-confidence in particular. The abundant reference materials made available to us in hard and soft copies were also instrumental.
The practical components of the teaching-learning process played vital role to my success, said Bitanya. Salesmanship in Action is the event Bitanya appreciated most and witnessed saying, “this is where SMU excels”. She added, it has helped her most to turn the concepts she learned in the classrooms into practice. Salesman in Action is an annual exhibition which is organized by the Department of Marketing Management in order to allow students demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired through action. Students exercise from A to Z of sales and marketing.
Shifting our attention to the center of our discussion, to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their study at SMU and beyond, we paused a question to Bitanya about her personal qualities that contributed to the academic success she exhibited in her career to which she responded as follows.
Bitaniya attended her classes regularly, followed lectures attentively, did her assignments with utmost care, managed her time properly and sought clarifications for unclear ideas. If she missed a class due to a reason/s beyond her control, she would compensate it by joining another section where the topic she missed was taught. She was very serious on time management. She budgeted her time among her schooling, recreation and others tasks. She did her assignments on time and did not procrastinate. She applied the same for group assignments and pushed her group members to work hard to meet deadlines without compromising quality. She also believes in what she calls “Knowledge sharing”. Helping her classmates in group assignments and during preparation for exams was her favorite thing she always did as she strongly believes that she learns a lot while helping others. Bitanya did not hesitate to ask questions, to go to instructors’ offices when she needed clarification to which, she told us, the instructors were happy to respond and provide support.
Determination Pays Off
Compiled by the IRC Office,
Kaleb Bekure is one of the 2019 graduates of St. Mary’s University, who was awarded a Trophy and a Medal. He graduated from the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, regular program with a Cumulative GPA of 4.0.
Aiming to draw lessons for those who are pursuing their studies at SMU and beyond, the International Relations and Communication Office of SMU interviewed Kaleb to share his experiences and the factors that contributed to his success.
Kaleb, before reaching this level, had gone through many challenges. Upon completion of preparatory education, he was assigned at Gondar University to study Engineering although his interest was to study either Medicine or Public Health. Kaleb got into depression right after he had started his study and as a result discontinued his education and returned home. He then took a break for a year.
After discussing with his parents, he joined Bethel Teaching Hospital’s Medical School, hoping to enjoy his passion of studying Medicine. However, he relapsed into depression and discontinued his study again. With this, Kaleb reached the extent of thinking that “He doesn’t have the capacity to learn; neither was he created for education, nor education for him”.
Losing hope of continuing his education, he trained and got a driving license to become a driver. At this juncture, his sister intervened to assist and suggested that Tourism and Hospitality Management would be good for him and he could get training through special personal class (by a personal tutor) and would earn a certificate afterwards. Accepting his sister’s advice, Kaleb joined Ibex Hotel and Tourism College in Addis Ababa and earned a certificate after completing the three month’s special personal class by scoring excellent grades. Besides, parallel to attending the three month’s training, he, along with second year students, visited the well-known tourist destinations and historical sites in the country, which had helped him develop passion for tourism and hospitality. Considering his outstanding performance, the College encouraged him to pursue his Diploma. Working extremely hard, he completed his Diploma with outstanding performance winning a trophy award.
When he planned to do his first degree, he heard that St. Mary’s University offers a Bachelor’s Degree program in Tourism & Hospitality Management. He then joined the University. While studying, he dedicated all his might and graduated with very great distinction.
We had asked Kaleb about factors that contributed to his academic success, to which he responded as follows.
He attributes his success to God and his parents who take the lion’s share in many respects. They had supported him throughout all the ups and downs he went through until he finally knew his right choice and passion. “They did not give up on me; they encouraged me throughout all my journeys to help me become myself. Even at those times of absolute depression when I felt hopeless, they were there for me to help me live my passion”, he applauded their contributions to his being.
He also attributes his achievements to SMU. He said that the manageable class size (they were only thirty students in class) at the Department had helped him and his classmates to develop a family-like intimacy with the instructors. Most of the instructors were very good and supportive, according to him.
Asked about his personal qualities that contributed to his academic success, he responded as follows.
Kaleb told us that students, to succeed in their learning, should “firstly, search for their talents, follow their passion persistently, never give up, push forward, try again and again, and work hard until they get there.” Secondly, he said, students should “study hard and make effective use of their time and might.” They should also avoid being satisfied easily, he added.
As the tradition at St. Mary’s University has it, Kaleb was given a full scholarship to pursue his Master’s study at the University. Kaleb is currently an academic staff at the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, from which he graduated, while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s Degree in Marketing Management at the School of Graduate Studies of SMU.
Looking back to the 10th Anniversary
ZewduWondim, B.A., Amharic (Gold medalist and double scholarship winner of SMU)
2007 Distance Graduate, DebreMarkos (had also earned diploma from SMU in 2001)
When I was all alone with no one to turn to, St. Mary's University listened to my woes, and to many other people in similar situation, with all the hope one would need: magnificent opportunity to pursue higher education. Having completed my diploma with flying colors, I was granted full scholarship to continue my degree program. The institution never ceases to amaze all; it once again provided me with a scholarship for graduate studies. Currently, I am a Sociology student of the renowned Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), India, which is offering its post graduate programs in partnership with St. Mary's University in Ethiopia.
Thanks to the quality education I have obtained from SMU, I have come out to be victorious in this world of fierce competition. What can I say? Words are too weak to express what SMU has done for me.
Thank you from the depth of my heart.
Solomon Ketsela, Diploma, Accounting,
2004 Extension Programme Graduate
I graduated with a diploma in Accounting from SMU in 2004. I congratulate the University College on its 10th anniversary. Your highly qualified and disciplined instructors have given me quality training and I have been the better for it.
Tsehay H/Michael, B.A., Management
2006 Distance Graduate, Addis Ababa
I am very much pleased to have this opportunity to say few words about St. Mary’s University. For me SMU is notably known for high quality education, qualified and dedicated professionals (editors, tutors and others), standard self-instructional materials and its considerable contribution in producing skilled manpower for the overall development of the country. No doubt, the University is the first to take credit for my efficiency in my current job and my confidence in my Master’s level education in Public Administration I am currently pursuing at SMU-IGNOU.
Congrats on your achievements so far!
ErmiasGobebo, LLB, Law
2007 Distance Graduate (had also earned diploma from SMU in 2001 E.C.), Awassa
St. Mary’s has brought a glimmer of hope for working people, like me, by availing opportunity for higher education at their doorsteps. Having earned my diploma and degree from this esteemed institution, I am now practicing law with high degree of confidence not to mention the fact that I have become a well-respected figure in the society.
Thank you for the glorious opportunity you have offered us.
Dr. Nicholas Dima
Formerly a Higher Diploma Leader in SMU from IFESH, Arizona
Geography is the kingdom of Terra, and History is the Prince that reigns over the kingdom. To know our larger “home,” the planet, we have to travel widely. To know its history we only have to read. And what we learn is how much we have changed the world, and how little we have changed ourselves. Yet by traveling, we change ourselves, too, and this is what I did by teaching in Ethiopia. If Ethiopia is now a republic centered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia St. Mary's University College is Ethiopia’s princess. And the older Ethiopia gets, the more knowledge it acquires, and the more beautiful its princess.
Modern man is some 50 thousand years old and it all started in Ethiopia. The diminutive and beautiful Lucy, Dinkenesh in Amharic, is proof that humanity began in Ethiopia. If settled life is about 10,000 years and recorded history is 6,500 years, Ethiopia has a known history of 3,000 years. By comparison, Addis Ababa is rather young and St. Mary's University College is only ten years old, but they have thousands of years of history and culture behind them and many more ahead of them.
I spent two years in Addis Ababa teaching at St. Mary's University College where I was assigned by the U.S. International Foundation for Education and Self Help (IFESH). I do not know how much I enriched these two institutions, but I know that they enriched me a lot. I taught my students new pedagogical and international knowledge, and they taught me old world wisdom, tolerance and patience. St. Mary’s was both family and home for me. Teaching and touching others, I continued to learn and to improve myself. I learned a little humility and a lot of love. I fell in love with Lucy and with Ethiopia and I left my heart in Addis. For all this past experience I am grateful to the leaders and administrators of the University College, to my colleagues, and to the students.
Thinking retroactively, it seems like a dream. Have I ever been there or I dreamt of it? And if it was all real, could I have done anything differently and better? Yes, I could, but God took me to Ethiopia too late. Maybe one day I will go back and convince myself that it wasn’t a dream.
AT THE FOREFRONT OF CHANGES
Prof Kate Ashcroft
Director, Ashcroft and Rayner Consulting Ltd.
Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.
VSO Management Adviser & Acting Director Higher Education Strategy Centre in Ethiopia (2003 -5).
I was delighted to write this article when I was approached by St. Mary's University College senior management to write about St. Mary’s development and contribution. I have known and worked closely with St. Mary’s since I was appointed as Higher Education Management Adviser to the Ministry of Education in 2003 and later as the first Acting Director of the Higher Education Strategy Centre (HESC) when it was located in the Ministry of Education.
St. Mary’s is the private institution that has influenced Ethiopia’s Higher Education system and contributed to top policy formulation perhaps more than any other private institution and certainly more than most public sector universities. This influence has been entirely positive.
An early contribution was to advise and lobby the government on the 2003 Higher Education Proclamation. The management of St Mary’s University College was an enthusiastic supporter of the Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) and lobbied for it to be set up and discussed its terms of reference with the Minster when the Proclamation was being written. It was not surprising that the President of St. Mary’s was then made a member of the HERQA Board and has championed its independence and its right to fearless auditing and the publication of results ever since.
I first became aware of St. Mary’s positive influence when the President was invited to be a member of a small, select and well respected team that developed the Higher EducationSystems Overhaul (HESO) report into Governance, Leadership and Management across Ethiopia’s higher education system. This document became the basis of a reform agenda within the public and private sectors of higher education and within the Ministry itself. Many of the positive developments and the agenda for reforms in higher education in the country, including public sector higher education, can be traced to ideas in this document: the importance of institutional autonomy in a context of accountability to stakeholders, reform of the functioning and membership of university boards, reform of university funding, process of reengineering as a way of increasing efficiency and effectiveness and so on. It is a tribute to the generosity of St Mary’s management to the system as a whole that so much time and energy was put into improving the system in the country.
Another major contribution of St. Mary's University College has been to the development of the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions.
St Mary’s, along with few other private institutions, was a main driver for the development of this Association, which was far ahead of the equivalent body for the public sector. The Association has been a force for good within the sector, enabling the sharing of good practice and the development of positive policies that could be shared with the government. My colleagues and I were regularly asked by St. Mary’s to speak to the Association so that they could be fully informed of the latest ideas and techniques in higher education.
One of the principal ways that St Mary’s University College influences the system as a whole and contributes to policy is by ensuring it is at the forefront of developments itself. St. Mary’s commitment to the staff development of its employees is second to none. It has also pioneered training in modern, employment focused skills development through practical teaching and active learning techniques. It has been interested in and experimented with newer assessment methods that promote more effective student learning.
Another way that St. Mary's University College has influenced the sector as a whole is in the establishment of standards for facilities. It is a tribute to St. Mary’s that short term profits and cost savings have never been the priority. St Mary’s realies that, to remain a destination of choice for higher education students, it must invest in its plant, facilities and staff. Other private higher education institutions that seek to be in the higher echelons of the sector rather than degree mills, have to compete with St. Mary’s investment. This will create a positive cycle of quality and investment that will lead to some select private higher education institutions, including St. Mary , constitutes the country’s higher education elite.
Of course, one of the features of an elite higher education institution is its research profile. St. Mary’s has shown how this may be achieved. Staffs have been encouraged to undertake research and to publish it, annual conferences are now seen as prestige events with national and international academics of high repute happy to contribute their research papers. St. Mary’s staff showcases their research at these events and demonstrates that the quality produced is as good as the best institutions in the country.
Finally, as well as excellence in teaching and research, a prestige institution must demonstrate its commitment to the world of work and its partnership with public and private organiations that will employ its graduates. St. Mary's University College has achieved this by lobbying for and contributing to a task force aimed at developing public/private partnership and policy in higher education under the leadership of HESC. It has also demonstrated its commitment through a range of partnerships with employers and developing work placements for its students.
St. Mary's University College has invested for the future in its infrastructure and its quality. It has contributed greatly to the country through the quality of its thinking and its willingness to devote its resources to the common good. It has remained utterly focused on giving its students the best quality education possible, and has understood this is not possible in an institution that fails to invest in its research profile and the teaching skills of its staff. It has developed excellent academic links with institutions and individuals around the world, with employers, with other higher education institutions in Ethiopia and with the government. As a consequence of this, St. Mary‘s is recognied by the government, other institutions, employers, parents and students as an elite institution that deserves and receives respect. Thus, St Mary’s is well placed to continue to develop over the next decade and indeed over many decades as a beacon of excellence that will influence policy and development in Ethiopian higher education for the better.
* The testimonywas given before St. Mary's earned tne status of a University