June 1, 2016 The Skanner CAREERS EDITION Page 5 CAREERS Kaiser Scholarship Winner Looks Ahead Roosevelt graduate Chaltu Ahmed plans to pursue a career in medicine By Arashi Young Of The Skanner News W hen Chaltu Ahmed arrived in the Unit- ed States, as a 16-year-old from Ethi- opia, she didn’t know the language or the cul- ture. Ahmed was a nat- urally curious and sci- ence-minded teen who knew she wanted to pur- sue health. She enrolled in Roos- evelt High School, stud- ied hard and ended up graduating in three and a half years while she was still learning English as a second language. Ahmed is the oldest sibling of four children and the irst person in her family to graduate high school. She plans to attend a col- lege in Oregon and study medicine. Ahmed recently re- ceived a $10,000 Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Care Career scholarship -- the largest scholarship amount in their health care career program. The scholar- ship is part of an efort to improve community health by helping diverse students become health care professionals. “When the health care workforce relects the patients it serves, more people have access to better quality care, so it’s a no-brainer for us to invest in this amaz- ing group of young, di- verse scholars who wish to enter health care ca- reer,” said Tracy Dan- nen-Grace, the director of community partner- ships and philanthropy at Kaiser Permanente. The Skanner News met with Ahmed to talk about her life as a new immigrant in the United States, the scholarship and her hopes to im- prove community health here and in Ethiopia. The interview has been edit- ed for space and clarity. For more information on the Kaiser Permanen- te Health Care Career scholarship, visit: https:// share.kaiserpermanen- t e . o r g /a r t i c l e /n o r th - w e s t - h e a l t h - c a re - c a - reer-scholarship-pro- gram/ The Skanner News: What was the experience like for you coming from Ethiopia to the United States? Chaltu Ahmed: When I irst moved here it was Jan. 26, around midnight in 2012. So I moved here, not knowing the weath- er changes and I don’t know about the lifestyle here and I didn’t speak any English at all. It was a very life-changing ex- perience. TSN: What was it like for you to come to the United States without knowing the language? CA: It was hard work. A lot of students end up not attending high school or college because the fear of the language barriers might keep them from pursuing their dream. I used to think outside of the box. It’s doable and if you work hard, then lan- guage barriers should not stop you from attend- ing college. That is how I am going to change my family’s life and the lives we are living now. I am totally sure that I am not going to work for the minimum wage and a job that I don’t like. My goal was to be a health care professional and you need a lot of sci- ence and math and a lot of technical skills also, so I did work hard. TSN: Why do you want to pursue a career in health care? CA: In Ethiopia there are a lot of diferent class- es. So, in one community you can ind someone that is very rich and you can ind someone who doesn’t have anything to eat for the night tonight. I used to observe difer- ent careers and saw the people that worked in the health care careers used to help their communi- ties and used to do good for others. And I looked up to them and said this is what I want to do with my life. I want to dedicate my time to helping the community with health which is something es- sential in life. Also, I love science and chemistry and math. TSN: What does your family think of your Chaltu Ahmed goal? CA: My mom is abso- lutely supportive to my goals because she’s dia- betic. She has cholester- ol and blood pressure problems. She has a lot of health problems, so pur- suing health care will actually support her per- sonally and support her with her health. TSN: What are your hopes for the future? CA: One of my hopes is to change the lifestyle that my family is lead- ing, because my parents, none of them graduated from high school and they didn’t pursue their college careers. Graduat- ing as a irst generation from my family, I will be changing the lifestyle of my family. My siblings will be pursuing college careers and I will be a professional. Also, I would like to change the way that the students in Ethiopia are pursuing their educa- tion in general. They don’t have proper tech- nology, they don’t get proper education, they don’t get proper medical treatments. I feel, as an Ethiopian, we are very behind. My hope is to help the children back home because they are the future generation. TSN: Is there anything you want to say? CA: Now I can focus on my studies and I can be reassured that I am a Kai- ser scholar now.