Success Story: Ruhama “Excels” at Computer CORE
October 11, 2021
by Jane Hess Collins
Growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ruhama Getachew dreamed of being a nurse. She remembered how nice the nurses were when her grandmother would take her for hospital visits. “There was one nurse who worked there who I really loved. She even let me spend time with her before my appointments. So, I think that’s really the reason I wanted to be a nurse,” she recalled.
Fate had other plans for Ruhama. She chose nursing as her first choice of study at a local university after passing her national exams in twelfth grade. However, the Ethiopian government thought she would make a better engineer.
“You don’t have a chance to choose what your major is,” she explained. “They will tell you to choose your major but technically you don’t. I was a science major, and I was assigned to engineering. Engineering was my sixth choice.” Ruhama was also assigned to Bahir Dar University, her fourteenth choice, which was a ten-hour drive from home.
Finding Her Path
In the fall of 2011, seventeen-year-old Ruhama left her family for the first time and began her engineering classes in the city of Bahir Dar. Less than a year later, the family moved to the United States and settled in Lorton, Virginia.
Life in the United States was not what she envisioned. “I expected more because of what I have seen in movies,” she explained. “In my mind I expected to see all white people. I told my cousin I didn’t really think I was in America, so he took me to DC and drove me around and showed me the White House. Then he said, ‘you are really in America now.’”
Ruhama enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College and received her associate degree in Natural Science in 2016. Finally, she was ready to attend nursing school when she made a startling discovery. “I don’t like working with sick people,” she realized. “It makes me too sad. If I see you sick, I’ll be sick too.” Instead, she continued her work as a client care supervisor with a local healthcare organization.
Navigating the Pathway
Life changed again when the pandemic began in the spring of 2020. When COVID concerns led Ruhama to resign from her job, a friend told her about Computer CORE. Ruhama enrolled in two classes in the spring of 2020 to learn Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access.
After completing her classes, Ruhama challenged herself to obtain a bachelor’s degree. She enrolled in Liberty University’s online program in the spring of 2021. The low cost and acceptance of her associate degree credits appealed to her, and schedule flexibility allowed her to care for her seven-year-old daughter.
Her Intermediate Excel class proved challenging, as did the complexities of attending college online. “I was so stressed out when I started Liberty. With the Intermediate Excel class, I was a beginner, and I knew I needed help,” she said.
Ruhama contacted her Computer CORE Basic Excel volunteer teacher, John Tschetter, who helped her with her studies. “I’m thankful, really thankful, for him,” she said. “Sometimes I’d email him at night, and he’d call me and help me. Without him and his help I would not have done well.”
On Her Way
“I’m so grateful for Computer CORE,” Ruhama said. She’s looking forward to earning her associate degree in business and her bachelor’s degree in healthcare management in 2023, saying, “I can stay in healthcare without getting sick.”
In her short video, Ruhama tells us how CORE provided a pathway to reach her career goals.
We had three questions for Ruhama, and she had three answers. Do you agree?
Author Jane Hess Collins is a communications consultant and coach, and the founder and executive director of Heard, a nonprofit that brings creativity and life skills to people in need. www.heardnova.org