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Desta Lissanu

African Studies

Class of 2013

A native of Somerset, Kentucky, Desta is a rising senior in Pforzheimer House. Desta has devoted the majority of her scholarship at Harvard to studying the intersection of religion, second-generation immigrant identities and youth. This focus culminated in her junior thesis, “Sojourners in a Strange Land:  Intergenerational Narratives of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in the American Diaspora.” After a transformative summer working for the community health organization Uganda Village Project in rural Bunio village, Desta became particularly interested in the ways education and public health can reinforce one another. In addition, she spent the summer of 2012 working as a student teacher for the Breakthrough Collaborative, an educational non-profit that connects low-income students to rigorous summer enrichment classes. In addition to her work with Breakthrough, Desta serves as a W.E.B. DuBois teaching fellow, volunteers at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, acts as junior researcher at the Radcliffe Institute and serves as librarian for the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. After graduation, Desta plans to teach for several years before attending medical school.