Faculty of Health grad receives Murray G. Ross Award

Essete Tesfaye and Amir Asif

Essete Makonnen Tesfaye, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science and specialized in global eHealth, was given the prize in recognition of a catalogue of accomplishments over the course of her time at York.

“I am so honored to have received this award. I feel so grateful to have had such a wonderful community that has helped me achieve this award,” said Tesfaye. “The previous winners of this award all have extraordinary accomplishments and I am so excited to become a part of this outstanding group.”

In pursuit of a passion for a more holistic understanding of health and health care, Tesfaye has garnered several awards prior to receiving the Murray G. Ross prize.

Essete Makonnen Tesfaye
Essete Makonnen Tesfaye at her June 19 convocation ceremony

She has received the Faculty of Health Gold Medal for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Leadership, as well as awards for achieving the highest GPA in the Global Health program in her third and fourth years. She also earned the best collaborator award for the World Health Assembly Simulation, an experiential education project, and was a McCall MacBain Scholarship finalist.

In addition to being a President’s Ambassador, during her academic journey she was a research assistant to Lora Appel, an assistant professor of health informatics and adjunct researcher at Michael Garron Hospital. Tesfaye also counted Oghenowede Eyawo, an assistant professor specializing in global health epidemiology, among her mentors and is grateful for his continued encouragement and support.

“The quality of mentorship I have received from professors and other campus partners has been outstanding,” says Tesfaye. “Many global health professors are leaders in the field, and I have greatly benefited from both their teaching and all the wisdom they have shared with us.”

Among Tesfaye’s numerous favorite experiences at York was participating in the capstone Global Health Practicum, which she says gave her the opportunity to put into practice many of the skills she developed throughout her coursework. Similarly, she says a practicum at St. Michael’s Hospital in her final semester provided valuable experience with real-world applications of eHealth.

Tesfaye also pursued opportunities outside York, such as volunteering at a grassroots community organization named Art+Health, which provides culturally specific mental health programming for Ethiopian and Eritrean youth in the Greater Toronto Area. There she was able to learn more about health promotion and learned the importance of community work and empowering communities to create their own resource. That aligned as well with principles of her degree, such as engaging research participants and ensuring that findings are of value to the communities being researched.

Currently, Tesfaye’s future plans are to remain at York in the Residence Life department, where she has worked for several years, and earned two impact awards for contributions to residence life as a porter and as a senior don. “I am excited to continue my journey in residence life and improve the student experience at York,” she says.

Looking back at her time at York, Tesfaye is grateful for the opportunities it has provided her. “York is a space that encourages students’ personal and intellectual growth. York is a large school but really quite a tight-knit community where we get to engage with so many different ways of thinking and ways of life. It has truly been a place that has given me the safety to explore the world around me while pushing me to think critically about it and envision how I can be a changemaker within it.”

Watch a video on Tesfaye below.