Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I was born in Ethiopia where I grew up hearing the stories of my uncles and thousands of other Ethiopians who after being tortured by the communist government in the 80s, had fled the country and were taken in as refugees in countries such as the US. I moved to France as a hopeful 18-year-old to pursue a bachelor’s degree in law and political sciences. I arrived there at a time when France was facing a humanitarian crisis, with large numbers of refugees arriving on Europe’s shores, fleeing their homes for various reasons. In part due to my own family’s and my people’s history with migration, I knew I could not and would not stay silent and turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis that was unveiling in front of my eyes in one the richest countries in the World. I wanted to get involved any way that I could, I volunteered in refugee centers, I interpreted for refugees and asylum-seekers from all corners of the World, they all had different backgrounds; they all had one thing in common though, they were seeking refuge from different types of persecution they endured in their respective countries. I interpreted for them during psychologist appointments, where I listened to them pour their hearts out and talk about what they had endured and share their hopes and dreams for the future; I interpreted during lawyers’ appointments, where they had to dig deep and share their worst memories, time and time again, because it was required to have a solid asylum case. Yet I saw some of them, waiting years to be granted asylum, in a constant state of uncertainty, unable to go back and unable to settle down.
I believe that getting a master’s degree in migration studies will prepare me for a career in advocacy and policy making in the field of immigration. The courses offered in this specific master’s such as immigration policy and politics, migratory mobility, practicum, cultural manifestations will help me gain a better understanding of the history of migration and introduce me to different ways we can influence immigration reform.
Even though my different experiences working with refugees have been rewarding so far, I have at times felt helpless and felt like I am failing them when I tell them that their asylum has been denied, or that there aren’t enough spaces in refugee shelters and that they need to sleep outside once again. I don’t want to feel helpless anymore I want to be able to ignite change, by advocating for refugees and influencing policies. I believe that I am now ready to take things to the next step; I want to be able to influence policies that will positively affect the experiences of refugees and asylees, on a national and international level. A graduate degree, specifically one in migration, would provide me with the opportunity to do so.

Zefitret from Maryland
University of San Francisco