UNIVERSITY PARK — At an SMU commencement ceremony this weekend, Roza Essaw looked and sounded like a typical graduate.
"I just graduated. It’s exciting! It’s a wonderful feeling!" she said.
But her story is pretty remarkable. Essaw picked up bachelor’s degrees in political science, human rights and communications.
Three degrees. That’s impressive on its own. But it’s just half the story, as told by the announcer on the graduation stage.
"Her mother and father are both graduating with MBAs from Amberton University, and her sister is graduating today with a BS in nursing from Midwestern State University."
One family. Six degrees. In one week.
Higher education is clearly a family affair in Essaw's household.
"This shows anybody who has a dream and works hard can achieve a goal in the United States," said Roza’s father, Essaw Jagiso.
Roza said her family left their native Ethiopia for this land of opportunity when she was eight years old.
"I think my family is the true example of living the American dream," she said. "I realize every day just how blessed I am because of the life I have seen in Ethiopia. But with that blessing comes a requirement: You’ve got to do your part."
Roza Essaw's part — eventually — will be a life devoted to human rights.
First, though, she and her family celebrated their accomplishments with friends. Soon, Roza plans to get to work on her master’s degree and go to law school.
And yes, her parents are also thinking of becoming students again to pursue doctorate degrees.