MSUM Couple Continues Education at Stanford University

By Danielle Rebel

It took traveling nearly 7,700 miles from Ethiopia to Minnesota for Iwnetim (Tim) Abate, 2015 (Physics), and Loza Tadesse, 2016 (Chemistry), to meet.

Abate and Tadesse met in 2013 at MSUM, both international students from Ethiopia. The pair connected through their mutual culture and love for research and scientific discoveries, and married in August 2015.

The couple is continuing their journey together at Stanford University this fall. Both were accepted into graduate programs — Abate into the Material Science and Engineering Ph.D. program, and Tadesse into the Bioengineering Ph.D. program.

With an acceptance rate of only around 10 percent for Stanford’s graduate programs, the couple is thankful they are able to continue their adventure together.

“It was very hard for both of us to get in together, but by the grace of God and our hard work it was possible,” Abate said.

Tadesse says continuing their education at Stanford University is the perfect opportunity for her and Abate.

“Mostly we were inspired because back home things are not always working very well for everybody, in terms of medicine, or energy, or other things that are taken for granted in a first-world country,” Tadesse said. “So we wanted to do something about it. That’s a passion that we share and we wanted to continue that.”

Abate intends to focus on finding methods to develop and create high performance materials for cheap, clean and abundant energy applications.

“Only 10 percent of Africans have access to electric power supply,” Abate said. “I have a dream of bringing cheap and renewable energy to my continent.”

Similarly, Tadesse hopes to create or modify existing diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices so they can be used where access to electricity or regular equipment isn’t an option.

Abate and Tadesse cite multiple internships at institutions including the California Institute of Technology, MIT and IBM for their success in landing spots at Stanford University. However, they say many of these opportunities would not have been possible without the experience they gained while attending MSUM.

“MSUM played a huge role in helping me get where I am now,” Abate said. “The great support from the professors in both helping me to understand my classes and carry out my research with great quality; the huge support from the school, which also provided me with all the resources I needed to perform my research and present at both international and national conferences; and the great sense of having impact in the world that the MSUM community helped me to grow.”

“My first summer (during college) I got into a summer research program at MIT. My research experience at MSUM was very helpful to make me more competitive,” Tadesse said. “The recommendation letter I got from here boosted my resume and enabled me to join that summer research program, which enabled me to join even more connections.”

Both students were also able to conduct research at MSUM through their Honors Apprenticeships. Dr. Ananda Shastri (Physics) was a research advisor for Abate and Tadesse, and says they were focused, diligent, and curious while conducting research.

“They’ve really helped themselves by seeking out every opportunity,” Shastri said. “They went to every conference they could, they presented at every conference they could, they got involved in summer research.”

Shastri says the opportunities Abate and Tadesse sought helped them stand out when applying to Stanford.

“Seeking out these opportunities to do research at different institutions and then present that is really something that can set a student apart,” Shastri said. “It’s something faculty have to continually remind students of, but we didn’t have to remind Tim and Loza. They were always looking for that.”

For students hoping to continue their education after MSUM, Tadesse says not to hesitate to take a chance.

“Sometimes students may feel intimidated, especially if they are dong science in a liberal arts school,” she said. “Since we’re not too popular in these terms students may feel like, ‘I’m not going to get it, I shouldn’t bother applying,’ but you never know. It’s better to apply and do whatever it takes.”

And the couple has proven time and time again that hard work and a solid foundation are key to success.

“My time at MSUM was a very enriching experience that opened several doors for my academic career,” Abate said. “I learned a lot from my professors and classmates. The MSUM community was very welcoming, which created an environment that nourished success.”