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Mahilet Kasahun

Master's candidate, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Story originally published on Jul 2021
Ethiopia, my country, is endowed with precious gifts of nature: fertile soil, a favorable climate with thirteen months of sunshine, and abundant water.

But despite all our advantages, we have so many people without access to safe water – even in urban areas, it’s common to see brown water pouring out of the tap.

I’m coming to the School of Engineering for my master’s degree in environmental engineering so I can eventually establish my own environmental consulting firm. Until then, I want to work at the intersection of water and public health for organizations that are working to provide a safe and sustainable water supply for Ethiopia. It’s my aspiration to see my country provide clean water so children will no longer die from waterborne diseases and all girls – who are often tasked with finding water for their families – can attend school without obstacles.

My family takes the lion’s share of the credit for this goal, especially my mother and sister. My mom is a single mother who taught me to love my education, see beyond obstacles, and pursue my passion. My sister – my mentor – helped me realize I could choose my own path. If you’re a top student in high school, people here expect you to be a medical doctor – that’s the path that’s encouraged. But my sister really supported me, and as a result I explored what I wanted to learn: engineering. I also appreciated my wonderful high school teachers who saw something in me and bolstered my confidence to be an engineer. I am also deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Wade Scholarship Program; it’s an honor to be chosen and it’s how I am able to attend Stanford.

I’m excited to take this next step in this field. To me, engineering represents a profession where you can earn the skills and confidence to deal effectively with problems. It opens the door to developing creative thinking, inventing, and – ultimately – solving some of my country’s biggest problems.

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