Born in Kenya, Tesfa moved to the United States at age 4 when his parents wanted better opportunities for their children than they had growing up. Learning English was initially very challenging for Tesfa and his older brother.
“We weren’t able to make friends the first year in school,” Tesfa said. “The other kids would push us out of their groups because we couldn’t speak their language.”
Now in his third year at KIPP Academy Middle School, graduating in 2020, Tesfa serves as school President, plays soccer, and takes multiple Pre-AP classes.
“All of the subjects are my favorite,” Tesfa explains. “History is so interesting because of how it repeats itself and you interpret things in different ways. There is no right way. Reading is fun because when I read fiction, I let my imagination take over. Science is interesting because it is applied in everyday life, and I can see it being used. If I had to pick, math would be my favorite overall because my dad has had such an influence on me. He dropped out of college because he didn’t have the same opportunities as other social classes. Now he helps me learn and love math.”
Tesfa is pushing himself to learn Spanish (his third language) and wants to learn a fourth language by the end of college. He knows learning a language helps in many areas such as getting paid more in your job, exercising your brain, and communicating internationally easier. He currently speaks English and Somalian and wants to learn French or Arabic after Spanish.
While his dad helps with academics, Tesfa’s mom is teaching him life lessons like how to do his laundry and the dishes. Tesfa wants to go to boarding school for high school. His sights are set on Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Although having to overcome feelings of homesickness, after visiting for three weeks this summer as part of the KIPP STEP program, Tesfa loved the environment and the culture of the campus.
“I liked the smell of the trees and the way it felt after an afternoon rain,” Tesfa shared. “The students are so connected. They have lunch together and play sports together, the teachers are the coaches, and there is a Dean in the dorms at all times.”
After boarding school, Tesfa plans to pursue world government to make greater strides in our efforts for world peace.