Alumna profile: Beemnet Tilahun ’08, Wichita, Kan.

Beemnet TilahunMAJOR: Pre-Pharmacy
CAREER: Pharmacist and pharmacy manager

An academic path

I grew up in a Christian home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had become familiar with Hesston College and [international admissions counselor] Dave Osborne Ac64, ’66 through others in my church who had attended here, so when I decided to look at colleges in the United States, Hesston was on my list. Dave made the process to get here so fast and simple. Hesston was the first college to help me get all the documents I needed, so Hesston is where I started.

I was the first in my family of four children to leave the country. I remember Dave meeting me and my mom at the airport in Wichita. Once we arrived on campus, people already knew my name. I was surprised at how friendly everyone was, and they made me feel at home right away.

I studied pre-pharmacy at Hesston, and after graduating I transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) (Richmond) where I earned my bachelor’s degree in bio-chemistry and, most recently, a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in August 2015.

Career discovery

When I was 16-years-old, my father passed away after he was given the wrong medication. It was then that I knew I wanted to become a pharmacist. In Ethiopia, students don’t get to choose which career to pursue. The government decides what jobs have the most need and assign students to study in those fields. I had been assigned to study engineering. I suppose since my father was a chemical engineer and my mother is a civil engineer, the government thought that would be a good fit, but it was not for me. That’s when I decided to leave the country so I could pursue my dream of becoming a pharmacist.

Transforming experiences

Hesston College provided me with the best foundation on which to achieve my career goals, as well as grow spiritually and personally. All of my courses challenged me, from College Writing with Dave [Osborne] to Hugo Boschmann’s classes to Bib Lit. Because I was able to have one-on-one interactions with my Hesston instructors and ask questions, I knew how to study hard at VCU, and I graduated with honors from both my undergraduate and doctorate degree programs.

Serving as a RA gave me good leadership experience. Christine (Kaufman) ’94 Schweitzer [resident director] guided me in becoming a leader, dealing with different situations and understanding people who are different from me. That experience allowed me to be a RA for 120 coeds at VCU, where I was awarded RA of the Year. I still use my RA experiences on resumés and have been asked about it in interviews.