Determination and education prove unstoppable
Abygail Andebrhan graduated in 2022 from the College of Biological Sciences with a degree in genetics, cell biology and development. Originally from Eritrea, her story speaks to the power of education and the opportunity she found at the University of Minnesota.
Abygail Andebrhan graduated in 2022 from the College of Biological Sciences with a degree in genetics, cell biology and development. She currently works in the University of Minnesota System Regeneration Lab using stem cell engineering to replace damaged systems, and is an intern with Hennepin Healthcare’s Emergency Department. She volunteers with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota and is applying to medical school.
How education led her to the U.S.
I'm originally from Eritrea. We got our independence in the early ’90s after a 30-year war. As a result, many people did not have the opportunity to obtain higher education. My father was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to come study in the United States, right here in Minnesota.
A few years later, the rest of my family and I followed.
Andebrhan’s father enrolled at and graduated from the University of Minnesota.
"When I started at the U, I quickly found a community of my own here. I was able to focus on fields I found interesting and meet many like-minded individuals."
In Eritrea, I won an award for doing well in school, and I got a book. The book was my dad's favorite growing up: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
When we first got [to Minnesota] we were driving by the Mississippi, and I was like “Oh, my gosh! There is the river that I grew up reading about!”
On enrolling at the U
My dad had always talked of the University of Minnesota very highly, so growing up, I had a feeling that is where I would go as well. The amusing part is that my dad would provide us with all kinds of Gopher gear during his time as a student here, so I have been wearing U of M clothes ever since I was a baby.
When I started at the U, I quickly found a community of my own here. I was able to focus on fields I found interesting and meet many like-minded individuals.
Andebrhan graduated from the U of M in just two years, at age 19.
On her plans for the future
I have always been fascinated by why things are the way they are and what causes them. Genetics allows me to combine this passion with my desire to work in health care by allowing me to focus on the underlying and root causes of different diseases. It is especially an exciting field now with all of the different discoveries and advancements that are being made. I hope to one day be contributing to that. My end goal would be to work with patients and conduct research that would advance patient care.
Her thoughts on Black History Month
When I was in grade school, I really appreciated the emphasis on Black success stories during Black History Month. Seeing people who looked like me accomplish amazing things was really inspiring. As corny as it is, it allowed me to put some truth to sayings like, “If I set my mind to it, I can accomplish anything.”
"Never think you're not meant to do something or be somewhere just because you don't see people that look like you doing it."
Her advice to young people of color
Never assume you're not meant to do or be something because you don't see people who look like you doing it.
Maybe you could be that person for those that come after you—the person they look up to.
Starting points for change
College of Biological Sciences
Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota
Celebrate Black History Month with programs and events throughout February
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