Gemechu Mekonnen

University of Minnesota

Gemechu Mekonnen, a second year student at the University of Minnesota, is a student leader who actively bridges the gap between the social and biological sciences. A double major in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Political Science, Mekonnen helps facilitate campus-wide conversations about politics as an opportunity for civic engagement and voting as a civic responsibility. Within the College of Biological Sciences, Mekonnen developed the CBS Democracy project to encourage students of the biological sciences to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Now that the election has passed, he is working to delve into deeper discussions surrounding policy and legislation in order to expand the scope and depth of political conversations among his biological sciences peers and across the university. Through this innovative interdisciplinary approach, he hopes to mobilize students to take action on issues that matter to them.

Eric Kaler
University of Minnesota

Personal Statement

During the weeks leading up to the last presidential election, I had the distinct honor of working as a student representative for the CBS Democracy Project. The purpose of the project was to try increase civic participation of students in the College of Biological Science and also to try and explore what type of role students in the sciences could play in civil discourse. Whether that entails contributions to discussions on policy measures involving the Biology or simply going out to vote, the opportunities to take action are numerous. During my time in high school, I also had the opportunity to take part in the Youth in Government program organized by the YMCA and am returning as an adviser for this years session. These programs gave me the opportunity to simply listen and learn, and this is what I feel is missing from the country's national discourse now. There is far too often a jump to snap judgments and disdain for the experiences and potential expertise of others based on beliefs and outward appearances. By showing active and verbal appreciation for the viewpoints of others, innovative and inclusive policies can be created that can truly result in united progress.

Gemechu Mekonnen
Genetics, Cell Biology & Development and Political Science: Class of 2019
written 2017

2017 Fellows Alphabetical by Institution

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Erica Cherian, UNC Charlotte Morgan Sweere, University of Central Arkansas Andrew Aboujaoude, University of Central Florida Jaylon Thomas, University of Central Oklahoma Akshayaa Chittibabu, University of Connecticut Marie Spence, University of Denver Nicolette Duong, University of Florida Bobbie Alcanzo, University of Great Falls Eisha Khan, University of Houston-Downtown Alexis Smyser, University of Illinois at Chicago Rudy Amaya, University of La Verne Duane Belanger, University of Maine at Fort Kent Karla Casique, University of Maryland Axel Bayingana, University of Maryland Eastern Shore Sophia Lopresti, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Andrew King, University of Massachusetts Boston Callie Nunez, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Luiza Kinzerska-Martinez, University of Miami Nadine Jawad, University of Michigan Zachary Hayes, University of Michigan - Flint Gemechu Mekonnen, University of Minnesota Madison Bick, University of Missouri - St. Louis Isabel Langlois, University of Montana Shayla McGregor, University of Montana Western Sophie Ramsey, University of Mount Union Jimmy Nguyen, University of Nebraska at Omaha Shannon Bodeau, University of North Carolina Asheville Cristian Ramos, University of North Georgia Karina Judith Ortega, University of North Texas at Dallas Melanie Majeed, University of Northern Iowa Sarah Tomas Morgan, University of Notre Dame Anea Moore, University of Pennsylvania Hashaam Jamil, University of Pittsburgh Wila Matos, University of Rhode Island Edgar Chavarria, University of San Diego Emery Smith, University of South Carolina Isaac Miles, University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) Corinne Tucker, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Richard Lee, University of Utah Rena Newman, University of Wisconsin - Madison Bianca Ruffolo, University of Wisconsin - Parkside Joanna (Jo) Niswonger, University of Wisconsin Colleges Yessenia Santamaria, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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