Betel W. Tenna

Hometown – Gaithersburg, MD
Undergrad – Princeton University
Major/Academic Interest – Computer Science

Caecilius Statius, a Roman playwright, once said “he plants trees to benefit another generation.” This value is at the core of all Betel does. As an Ethiopian immigrant, she has seen a lifetime of struggle, but has never allowed herself to give up in order to build an unprecedented future for herself and initiate the cycle of generational wealth in her communities. As a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership alumni and volunteer, Horatio Alger Scholar, and varsity tennis captain, Betel lives her life by the values of integrity, excellence, compassion, community, and service.

An empathic, and resilient student, Betel’s passion for service began in school. Growing up in the English Learner’s program, she saw the many inequities that disconnected immigrant families from their child’s experience. In her sophomore year of high school, she began to plan her own community service impact projects to enact the change she desired to see, in order to prevent the perpetuation of these inequities. With an objective to expand opportunities for immigrant students, Betel founded her school’s first test preparation service, which tutors and guides students in all SAT and ACT subjects in English, Amharic, and Spanish.

In the summer of 2019, Betel participated in the fifteenth cohort of the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute, spending seven weeks developing leadership skills, community values, and academic grit on Princeton University’s campus. Through this experience, Betel felt empowered as a young woman in academia and returned to her community with an eagerness to implement what she learned at LEDA in her community. Upon her return, she initiated an academic mentorship program where she offers guidance in all high school and college related topics, including essay revision, summer enrichment program application help, and college application help, again offering these in multiple languages.

In late 2019, she joined the non-profit organization My Project Exchange as the Director of Technology Innovation, leading a Digital Exchange initiative to make cultural exchange accessible for students globally by developing a text message curriculum to connect international students. As a US delegate for the High School Diplomats program at Princeton University, she began to study Japanese, broadening her affinity for multicultural literacy and global citizenship. In her free time, she writes for several student publications, including Generation Z, a student-founded international media outlet, and Afro Puff Chronicles, a global blog for girls of color to share their stories; As the non-fiction editor for her school’s literary magazine, she broadens students opportunities for expression and guides students to improve their creative work during workshops and revision sessions.

Now, in 2020, Betel plans to attend Princeton University to study Computer Science and African Studies to confront global challenges.