Tsegereda Esatu

Ph.D. Candidate, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Tsegereda Esatu left her home country of Ethiopia to pursue more opportunities to study engineering and secure her place in the semiconductor field. Following completion of her undergraduate degree, an internship opportunity at UC Berkeley led her to the University’s prestigious doctoral program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Along the way, dedicated faculty helped her find her research niche in micro and nano-sized semiconductor devices. Continue reading to learn about Tsegereda’s personal journey to Berkeley.

My name is Tsegereda Esatu, and I’m a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley. I’d love to tell you how the Berkeley community has supported me in my drive for excellence.

I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a child, I was interested in science and math, and developed an interest in engineering.

At 17, I moved to the U.S. to finish high school because there are more opportunities in engineering for me here. Moving to a new country as a teenager was really hard. I had to leave my family, my friends, and everything I knew. There was a language barrier and, of course, culture shock.

However, during my junior year at Jackson State University, I was accepted for an internship at Berkeley. I found myself surrounded by outstanding people who were smart and amazing. I was really interested in the research I was doing, and I received a scholarship to attend the University as a Ph.D. student.

When I started my graduate studies, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to work on. But a very supportive professor mentored my growth, not only as a researcher but as a woman in a field that’s mostly dominated by male researchers and engineers.

I found myself surrounded by outstanding people who were smart and amazing.

Tsegereda Esatu

I currently conduct research on micro and nano-sized semiconductor devices that are used for memory applications. I fabricate, design, and test them for applications like wearable electronics.

Whenever I‘ve felt discouraged, there have also been student organizations to support me. One of them is the Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS), and the other is the Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WICSE). We get together and share our experiences, talk about our challenges, and learn from one another.

After graduation, I plan to join the industry in the Bay Area, but I think I want to eventually go back home and support other students like me who would be interested in this field. Back home, the semiconductor field is not as well-known as it should be, so I want to introduce it to young students in Ethiopia.

I think coming to the U.S. and studying at Berkeley as a first generation college student was the right decision. Because of the experience, I’m stronger and more independent. I’m so glad I took the chance.

Thank you for reading my story, and I hope it inspires you to make Berkeley your community too.

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