2017 Christensen & Hymas General Scholarship Recipient

Bethany Kassala is an amazing student from Washington State High School. Her passion and dedication to better the world is just as impressive as her accomplishments. Bethany is extremely deserving of this scholarship, and we are proud to offer $1000 towards her academic pursuit, helping pave the way for all the positive change she plans to achieve.

This young woman accomplishments are worth the spot light. Read Bethany’s outstanding story, in her own words:

“As a child of refugee parents fleeing from a communist regime, the importance of democracy is a concept I am more than familiar with. My family moved to America from Ethiopia when the Derg regime overthrew the Ethiopian government. It was gruesome; a family member of mine, abducted by soldiers when he was 13, was forced to watch his friends be murdered and then sing over their dead bodies. When the voices of citizens are silenced by their government, it puts innocent people in a dangerously vulnerable position to be oppressed and abused. My family’s horrific stories under the regime are what initially fueled my desire to positively impact humanity.

My strong drive is maintained by the Ethiopians who didn’t get a second chance at life like my family did. As a person blessed with freedom, I believe it is my responsibility to use my freedom to advocate for the liberation of oppressed peoples. Advocating for humanitarian rights on an international scale is largely connected with politics, which is why I want to study political science and law. Until I am in a position where I can directly aid in the termination of inhumane militant practices, I will use my platform to raise awareness. I hope to inspire others to educate themselves on world issues, and enlighten them on the necessity of their actions as privileged people. I’ve been labeled a “Social Justice Warrior” at my school due my vocal activism. My goal is to make philanthropy a popular pursuit. As Malala Yousafzai once said, “I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

I’ve worked hard to access opportunities and prepare for my future. I’ve maintained a 4.0 cumulative GPA while taking AP and Honors courses. I’ve also been a Young Executive of Color at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington for two years; it’s an educational program created to address every aspect of the business field through lectures, case competitions, and internships. Additionally, I’m a Girls Who Code alumni. For seven weeks of the summer, I spent weekdays learning how to code in HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Python.

My ultimate goal in life is to positively impact the world, but as a highschool student, I’m currently focused on my local community. I was the president of Health Educators Reaching Out (HERO’s) club and created workshops to address the issues of emotional and mental instability among students at my school, often related to drug use. I’m a member of the National Honor Society, which is a club for academically excellent students to serve their community in volunteer projects. I am also an officer of CHS Project Help, a club that does local fundraisers to support international relief efforts. The club that means the most to me is Bruins Against Cancer (BAC). It is a club that I founded myself and have been president of since its creation. Four years ago, a loved classmate passed away from cancer. The whole school was shaken. Students who feel powerless in front of cancer can volunteer and cope by contributing to the fight to end cancer. In 2016, BAC helped raise $82,626 at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k and over $268,000 at the Night of Hope Gala. I’ve also started an annual book drive at my school for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to gift to patients. I feel most accomplished in the amount of students who changed into people more devoted to community service after joining this club. Students who were never involved with school activities joined in a time of heartbreak, and were able to experience the fulfillment and warmth of helping others.

I believe that the privilege of my education and freedom comes with the responsibility of developing myself to my fullest potential in order to help others who aren’t given the same opportunities as me. This belief has been and will continue to be the basis of my life. Don’t be too surprised if one day you see me headlining CNN.”

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