Rahel Geretsadik Geremikael

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, International Relations

College: Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

As a young girl, Rahel Geretsadik Geremikael fled religious persecution and war in the Eastern African country of Eritrea, walking with her family and dozens of others across the Sinai desert into Israel. The family survived incredible hardship – Rahel, only 12 at the time, carried her little sister on her back – but they found safety in Tel Aviv.

A natural talent for running led her to join a track and field team for refugees, the Alley Runners, where she excelled, winning many competitions and even qualifying for the 2014 Olympics. At 15, local media dubbed her the “fastest girl in Israel” but her immigration status barred her from representing her adopted country at any international events. 

Rahel continued to train and eventually earned a full scholarship for track and field to FIU. Though she spoke only limited English when she arrived, she quickly learned the language, made many friends and was accepted into the Honors College.

In 2018, she won a trip to Washington, D.C. through the Global Learning Transformation Contest, penning an essay about her personal journey. With a degree in international relations, she plans to pursue her master’s in psychology so she can help others like herself fulfill their dreams. She is grateful to FIU for giving her a chance – and her parents for their determination and sacrifice to give her family a better life.

By Amy Ellis
Communications Manager
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Nominated by Ari Sernik