Menbere Assefa did not know where she would end up after high school.
Her family immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia when she was eight years old, and though her parents prioritized her education, she says she struggled with taking the SAT.
“I was not a good test-taker,” she says in the video below, describing the college rejection letters she received, her sense of uncertainty, and her determination to prove she was more than just a test score.
Thanks to the nonprofit Urban Alliance, Assefa didn’t have to worry about finding opportunities to be successful after high school. She received an internship with the Executive Office of the Mayor, where she learned about the legislative process and its impact on local residents.
In her time at Urban Alliance, she also formed a relationship that turned into a business partnership; in 2013, Assefa co-founded the nonprofit Project One Way.
“I wanted to give back to the community that built me,” she said.