The commencement speaker at Portland State University came to the United States only eight years ago as a 16-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia with a fifth-grade education. He could not speak a word of English.
But when Tamam Waritu stepped onto the dais to deliver the major address on this Oregon campus this summer, he was introduced by the college president and honored by his classmates for his outstanding achievements in education.
“The only reason I am here,” he told the Portland State audience at his graduation, “is that I was given the opportunity.”
He struggled in school, took two years of English as a second language and improved.
Tamam graduated from Portland State with a double major in international and black studies at the age of 24.
He is the first in his family to be admitted to a university.
He plans to earn a doctorate in order to teach in college, he told Jalene of the Afan Oromo service. Among his many volunteer activities while in college, he founded the Gadab Foundation that has in the last two years offered scholarships to 24 young men and women in his home town in Oromiya.