• enp“You are the best there is. You are the activists and the successes,” said UJA-Federation of New York’s Ilan Halperin at a festive ceremony held on June 7th, 2009, attended by a group of Ethiopian-Israeli young men and women who gathered to receive Ethiopian National Project (ENP) higher education scholarships to attend colleges and universities throughout Israel. Halperin expressed his confidence that those gathered will succeed: “I see the spark in your eyes,” he said. Halperin encouraged the students to use what they were learning to help the Ethiopian community in Israel and the Israeli community at large. He also encouraged them to give back and volunteer in their community to help others to succeed.

    The Ethiopian National Project awarded a total of 108 scholarships, including 63 elite “Trendsetter” Scholars funded by UJA-Federation of New York in partnership with the ENP. Trendsetters study a wide array of subjects in elite faculties such as biology or engineering. In addition to the Trendsetters, ENP awarded special scholarships to Israel’s six Ethiopian-Israeli Medical Students and the remaining scholarships to students who are otherwise ineligible for Government-sponsored scholarships due to age or study of a second degree.

    Tegist Abebe and Yisraela Almah are two students receiving the Trendsetters scholarship, studying at the School of Nursing in Safed. They are in their second year of a four year degree and as part of their studies, are already practicing at the hospital connected to the university. They are looking forward to when they finish their degree, and will be able to work at any hospital in Israel. Ronit Asara from Afula is studying biology. “I didn’t know I liked biology until my preparation year at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. Now I’m the only Ethiopian-Israeli in my college studying biology.” Ronit heard about the scholarship from a friend; her cousin is now also a recipient. “I’m going to get a master’s degree and then work in the field,” she states with pride.

    Roni Akale, the Director-General of FIDEL and the chair of Representatives of the Ethiopian Jewish Community Organizations in Israel, acknowledged that the Ethiopian-community in Israel needs a helping hand and told the recipients “we need to help our brothers and sisters.” He called on them to volunteer in ENP’s Youth Outreach Centers, as well as in their neighborhoods and cultural centers. Hanoch Tzamir, the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption encouraged them to reach their full potential and to help others do so as well. Tzamir pushed them to study elite faculties and aim for second degrees and doctorates. He told them “you all need to be an example to your brothers, sisters, neighborhoods, community and your children.”

    With 3,000 Ethiopians-Israelis pursuing higher education, it is important that each and every one of those students set an example and encourage others to aim for university as well. Stories like Ronit’s, Tegist’s and Yisraela’s make it clear that these scholarships are truly having an impact on people’s lives.

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