Student Spotlight: Simegnish "Lily" Mengesha, MSFS '18

Simegnish “Lily” Mengesha, a political refugee and exiled journalist from Ethiopia, came to MSFS this past year seeking an environment of inclusivity and diversity, an opportunity for intellectual growth, and a path towards making the world a better place.

Lily’s story first begins in Ethiopia, where she worked as a prominent journalist in Sub-Saharan Africa for a variety of African-based news outlets. Lily covered diverse political topics, ranging from political unrest, parliamentary sessions, and human rights issues. Emboldened with a desire to uphold the truth and inspire justice in Africa’s government-media relations, Lily strove to publish a variety of controversial stories. As a result, she was forced into prison by Ethiopian Security Forces. Eventually, Lily was exiled from Ethiopia for reporting on protests carried out by Ethiopian Muslims against the Ethiopian government.

Describing her life as a political refugee Lily says, “Being forced to flee… the impacts are beyond words. It comes with a constant feeling of sadness, anger, and hopelessness. When I had to leave my family, friends, career and dream behind, I came to America hoping to start life all over again.”

Lily decided to join MSFS at Georgetown University in order to strengthen her understanding of the larger political and developmental issues in the global arena – an area with a highly practical and professional application in the field of international relations. Lily states that her desire to join MSFS was motivated by the fact that she wanted “to do more than report on the problems, but to be part of the solution as well.”

The majority of Lily’s coursework at Georgetown addresses some of the global challenges in today’s world, such as managing refugee crises and mitigating human rights violations in developing countries. She has also found professional support through her position as a research assistant for Professor Lahra Smith in the Africa Studies program – a position which allows her to enhance her understanding of migration and refugee issues in East Africa.

Lily considers working for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as one of her long-term goals, working to solve the current global refugee crisis. Following a career at the UNHCR, she hopes to spearhead campaigns in Africa to help make human rights a fundamental part of government policies and laws. Eventually, Lily plans on establishing her own independent Sub-Saharan media outlet that would promote public services, shape public morals and opinions, and openly contribute to community development in the region.

Lily’s story, goals, and career path exemplify the MSFS values of leadership, ethics, and service. She has endured hardships unbeknownst to most, and instead of running away from difficulties in life, she has faced them head on. Her desire to improve and mitigate refugee crises in Africa and contribute to the global good serves as an example for other MSFS students. Georgetown University is incredibly proud to have Lily as a student.