Skip navigation

Building an Inclusive Community

Photo of Bemnet

Bemnet Tesfaye
MAIR '21

Q: What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 
A: From its reputation, I knew that going to Johns Hopkins SAIS would enable me to come out with a stronger grasp on economics, finance, and other quantitative topics, while also having the opportunity to explore other professional specializations. I felt encouraged to apply to the school because I found that I could identify and relate with the community as a group of people with a common goal to not only learn about international affairs, but to shape it. 
Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved with at the school? 

A: I am one of the co-leaders of the Black Student Union (BSU). This year, I am extremely proud of the work my co-leader and I have done to cultivate a stronger connection with the Black community at the school. This has included organizing professional development opportunities for students and BSU members through a Speaker Series featuring prominent Black leaders from different industries and expertise, a resume workshop series, and a Presidential Management Fellowship information session. Additionally, I have been working to bring these programs to include the wider Black community outside of the school through outreach to prospective Black students. Together with the Admissions Office, I helped organize a panel that helped prospective Black students to learn about life at the school, career outlooks after Johns Hopkins SAIS, and how to apply to graduate school. To me, service to my community, whether to the Johns Hopkins SAIS community or broader community, is essential. 

Q: People think of diversity in many ways. What does diversity mean to you? 

A: Diversity means listening to many different voices and involving people from different backgrounds. This diversity creates and further enriches a community that is shaped through integrity and mutual respect.

Q: What has been one of your favorite experiences at SAIS so far? 

A: My favorite experience comes from the relationships I have built at Johns Hopkins SAIS. To be honest, this usually involves food - whether that is sharing a cup of coffee on a cold day with a friend in the school’s common area during finals season or spending Valentine’s Day with a group of SAIS women to discuss how we hope to change the world. 

Q: Could you please tell us about your recent internship? 

A: As a USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Fellow this past summer, I worked at USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning as a Fellow on the Evaluation Team. I also had the opportunity to transition to USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force as a Pillar’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate? 

A: When I graduate from Johns Hopkins SAIS, I will begin an appointment to the USAID Foreign Service where I hope to work on the front lines addressing global challenges overseas. 

Back to Student Stories