As the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s 54th midyear commencement approaches, Menna Tafesse Garedew, a master of public administration (MPA) candidate for graduation, is excited to receive her academic hood and go forth to make the world a better place.
Garedew hails from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and took many steps along her educational journey to find her way to UW Oshkosh. During her formative years, she attended an international school in the Netherlands and eventually got her undergraduate degree from Pittsburg State University in the U.S. As an international student and altogether global citizen, she knows her adventure doesn’t end here.
“I like being a part of something bigger than myself,” Garedew explained. “My desire to make a difference drives who I am and what I do. I want to share my ambitions and talents with the world.”
The MPA graduate has dreams of establishing her own nonprofit organization focusing on quality mental health services for the homeless population in her native country. Like much of the world, Ethiopia faces many challenges rooted in mental health, so it has been her mission to equip herself with the skills and knowledge needed to make an impact.
Garedew sports a unique academic combination of a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in developmental disabilities and an MPA with an emphasis in nonprofit management and leadership. However her academics are not the only experiences broadening her skills and shaping her outlook on life.
At UW Oshkosh she’s worked in several administrative programs on campus and also contributed to graduate research for the Department of Public Administration. Garedew says she’s always made an effort to get her foot in any door that might lead to opportunity.
Throughout her year-long study, she’s has been involved with the Office of Sponsored Programs as well as the Office of the Chancellor in areas of policy, research compliance and grants. In addition to these roles, she was a graduate research assistant helping Samantha Larson, assistant professor in the MPA program, conduct and assess the annual Oshkosh citizen survey.
“A passion for serving others emanated from Menna starting on day one,” Larson said. “She’ll continue to change the world for the better, wherever she goes next.”
Outside of school and work, Garedew volunteers at Fit Oshkosh to learn the inner mechanisms of a nonprofit organization. Additionally, her policy work through the Office of the Chancellor demonstrated to her the importance of well-thought-out principles to guide an organization. She also tailored many of her MPA assignments to fit her goals, such as developing a grant proposal for her future nonprofit.
“I take any card that is dealt to me and find a way to work it into my life,” she said. “Any job I work at, any class I take or any volunteer opportunity I’ve pursued has benefited me. Even if it’s not overtly related to my plans for the future, these opportunities have offered me important new skills and the ability to become a better leader.”
Garedew credits her faith and family as well as support from University colleagues to be where she is today. The MPA graduate doesn’t know exactly what the future holds, but she is confident and excited to pursue her dreams and begin her career.
“People are my passion and I believe that serving others is my true calling. I can’t wait to see what kind of positive change I can bring to the table.”
The 54th midyear commencement will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 15 at Kolf Sports Center.