Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: Meet an International Student from Ethiopia

Yonatan looks into NYC

By Fatimata Ndiaye & Halie Best

In this week's, Where in the World is Miami Wednesday, we meet Yonatan Lemma, a senior Mechanical Engineering major and Startup Entrepreneurship minor from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While adjusting to a different country and less urbanized setting was an initial challenge for Yonatan, he has grown to love the Oxford community and has made lifelong friends.

The focus on Liberal Arts at Miami University has proven to be valuable in Yonatan's ability to shape his education to fit his career goals. He describes Miami as a place where students "can sculpt their academics in their own way without compromising on rigor and quality." His ultimate dream is to move back to Ethiopia after graduation and help improve the nation's general infrastructure through engineering. He also plans on using his education to assume the leading position in his family's business — a candy factory.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Yonatan Lemma and I am an international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Startup Entrepreneurship here at Miami. Some fun facts about me: I have four sisters and I’m the youngest of my siblings, I learned to drive a stick shift when I was 9, and I have been to all continents, except South America and Australia.

How did you get to know about Miami University and what made you choose it?

I found about Miami University through a friend. What made me choose to go here was the fact that Miami is a liberal arts university. Miami is ranked highly in its academics, as well as in other areas like study abroad.

Yonatan Lemma with friends

What has been your most memorable experience at Miami?

My most memorable experience at Miami would be the first couple of weeks as a first year student. All new students and I, having just moved into our dorm rooms, would hang out in the hallways late at night and talk for hours with the intent to get to know each other. We shared experiences that brought us close together and made connections that will last for a lifetime.

What has been the biggest difference between your home country and the U.S.?

The biggest difference between home and the U.S. would be the food, no doubt.

What has been the biggest similarity between your home country and the U.S.?

The biggest similarity that I noticed between home and the U.S. is how major holidays (especially Christmas) are celebrated here and how the holidays of different ethnic groups are acknowledged throughout the country.

Yonatan on the beach

What organizations are you involved with on campus, and why?

I have been involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)/Baja racing team, the African Student Union, and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). I also have plans to start an Ethiopian-American Association, if we get more Ethiopians are attending Miami by next semester and would be willing to be part of the organization.

What does Love & Honor mean to you?

To me, Love & Honor is the code by which every student and faculty at Miami acknowledges each other. This is part of our identity. Love & Honor means treating people with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

What do you like to do for fun?

I like working out (resistance training), playing my guitar, and going on road trips with friends.

What is your favorite place to eat on campus?

My favorite place to eat on campus is Western Dining Commons.

How has Miami’s focus on a Liberal Arts-based education helped you?

Miami’s focus on liberal arts has enabled me to design my educational route in a way that is very fitting for my future career plans.

Yonatan Lemma

What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing their education at Miami University?

Coming from a city where millions of people live, adjusting to the less urbanized setting of Oxford was a bit difficult for me at first. One of the biggest things that helped me with this adjustment was socializing with people and exploring the town with them. Besides that, I would recommend Miami to anyone who is looking to further their education at a place where they can sculpt their academics in their own way without compromising on rigor and quality. I would also advise them to look through all the majors offered at Miami before making their decision.


Catch us next week as we continue to travel around the world to feature the amazing opportunities that Miami students are taking and the experiences our alumni have had since graduating!

Would you or someone you know want to be featured in a future Where in the World is Miami Wednesday?

Submit a Story