Selome Taddesse '88
(Ethiopian political leader)
When Selome Taddesse made her way across the Gettell Amphitheater stage in 1988, her Mount Holyoke diploma in hand, it was a moment of triumph. Through determination and drive, she had overcome numerous hardships.
Initially, Selome was a student at a commercial school in Addis Ababa, but she decided to accept a scholarship that allowed her to study journalism in Minsk (USSR). Even though she enjoyed the country and excelled at the University of Minsk, Selome was wrongfully accused by the Ethiopian Communist Youth Association of anti-revolutionary activities. Unsuccessful attempts at defending herself forced Selome to leave the USSR and make her way to West Germany. A difficult fifteen months of life as a refugee seeking asylum and the inability to communicate with family were finally over when a church refugee resettlement organization placed Selome with the family of Mary Jacob, former Dean of International Affairs at Mount Holyoke, and her family in South Hadley. With a scholarship she was able to enroll at the College.
Immediately after graduating from Mount Holyoke, Selome became active in a refugee resettlement organization in Boston and worked at Logan Airport at night in order to support herself and her family. The overthrow of the military regime in Ethiopia opened new opportunities for Selome at home. Since then, she has worked as First General Manager of the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency and as a spokesperson for the Ethiopian government in Washington DC. She is also a renowned “women in leadership” trainer and motivational speaker.