From a small town in Ethiopia to Fairfield, Connecticut, Binyam Tsegaye has traveled a long way to arrive at his position here as the Graduate Resident Coordinator who oversees Kostka and Claver Halls at Fairfield.
Since he arrived here in July 2015, Tsegaye has been acclimating to the environment
“So far so good. It’s different you know, I went to Providence College and I was an RA for two years. Now having a supervising role, it’s much different,” Tsegaye said.
Tsegaye did not just come to Fairfield randomly, however. It was a long series of life changing events that brought Tsegaye to a position he says was “meant to be.”
“I was born and raised in Ethiopia and I came to the U.S. when I was 11, so in 2002. I was born in Dilla, Ethiopia, a very small village. It’s about four or five hours away from the capital.”
He further explained why he and his family departed Ethiopia for the United States. “My father noticed the struggles we were going through were not what he wanted for his family. He applied for a diversity visa. The criterion says you have to be married and have kids and most importantly a high school diploma. The first time he put his family name in, he didn’t get it. The second year he applied, we got it. We sold all our possessions to people so we could buy our plane tickets. Ever since I have been living in Boston.”
After living in Massachusetts for many years, Tsegaye attended Providence College in Rhode Island, receiving a bachelor’s in sociology and a minor in theology. Currently, he is in a graduate program at the University of Bridgeport to obtain a Master’s in Global Development and Peace.
However, Tsegaye still carries Ethiopia with him in his heart. “Every single day, it’s a part of me. I’m not a fan of LeBron. I hate LeBron. But when he won his second championship, the thing that stuck with me is when he said ‘I’m just a kid from Akron, Ohio’… I’m just a kid from Ethiopia. The fact that I’m in this country is mind blowing for me. I represent my country. Obviously I’m an individual, but my country is in my heart. Everything I do goes back to my country.”
Tsegaye was led to Fairfield primarily due to his studies at the UB. “So initially my thoughts were, I could live in my car for a year and see what comes after, but I wasn’t thinking winter is going to come. I applied for housing positions at UB but everything was filled up.”
After Tsegaye found out that there were no resident positions at the UB, he turned his attention elsewhere. “I started looking at nearby universities where I could obtain free housing. That’s how I found Fairfield.”
Tsegaye explained how he submitted his résumé and interviewed at Fairfield, but did not expect to get a call back. “I never expected to get my position. Even from the phone call I could sense that Fairfield was the place to be. Even through the phone call I could sense community and values. When I came for my personal interview, you know one-on-one, I was greeted and taken care of well. I was sold.”
After being here at Fairfield for about half a year, Tsegaye explained all the things he loves about Fairfield. “People love to be here and they have so many passions. Trying to apply it to clubs or organizations. I love how people are so passionate. They know what they want to do. That is definitely something I love about Fairfield. That culture of seeking and going after your passion. You don’t see that in other colleges.”
Tsegaye still manages to enjoy his own time, however. In his free time Tsegaye, better known by his nickname Bini, enjoys bowling, eating and listening to reggae and Christian hip hop music. Tsegaye also enjoys his favorite television shows, “The Office” and “Seinfeld,” and his favorite sport, soccer.
Overall, however, Tsegaye’s most important mission is to be a positive influence on students and help them whenever he can. He offered a final piece of advice for seniors.
“I have advice for seniors who are graduating as to enjoy the moment. The real world sucks. Everything you can do to enjoy your friendships and the Fairfield community, do it. Have good times, enjoy the moment and appreciate life because time is going to vanish.”