Aklesiya Dejene

Hi! My name is Aklesiya Dejene, and I am 17 years old.  I am originally from Ethiopia, but now I live in Chicago, Ill. I just started my senior year at Holy Trinity High School.

My favorite things to do are to go to the beach, read books and listen to music because they are peaceful and allow me to think without any disturbance.

I love learning so much. My favorite classes from school are math and science. I like to do things that challenge me.

I’m a junior intern with GirlForward, a non-profit organization for teenage refugee girls, and I am specifically working on a project called Safe Spaces. Most of the teenage refugee girls in the areas surrounding the GirlForward office in Chicago are new to the country. It can be difficult for them to navigate the neighborhood, so we ask local businesses to become Safe Spaces for the girls who might feel unsafe in their neighborhoods.

I desired to become a Girl Up Teen Advisor for multiple reasons, the first being that they work in my home country of Ethiopia. Girl Up also helps girls like me who want their voices to be heard and have their dreams come true. Every day, I imagine what it would be like to be a girl in a developing country. I would want people to help me if I did not have access to education, health services or leadership programs. I am proud to be a Teen Advisor because I will be able to help more girls in developing countries and spread the word about Girl Up.