Seventeen years ago, Eaba Dechasa arrived in America from Ethiopia with his family. His father was a geologist. His mother a teacher. The Dechasas came to America through the Diversity Immigrant Visa program (also known as the visa lottery), which provides up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year. Drawn from random selection among all entries, the visas are awarded to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Distributed among six geographic regions, no single country can receive more than 7% of the available DVs in any one year.
Despite losing their prestigious jobs in Ethiopia, the Dechasas knew this was an opportunity and grabbed it with both fists. With ethnic war raging in their country, their future looked bleak. “My parents were dedicated to giving us an opportunity,” said Dechasa. So the family came to America – specifically Colorado – where approximately 30,000 Ethiopians live.
While in high school, Eaba enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. “It was very competitive. The expectation was that you’d attend an Ivy League school, but I knew that was not likely.” Disappointed, Dechasa “needed to mature enough to realize that there are other programs that can be just a great.”
One day, he received a brochure from the Community College of Aurora, where his parents earned their License Practical Nurse (LPN) degrees. The slogan “potential realized” caught his eye and resonated. “CCA was a fantastic starting point and I would recommend it to anyone,” said Dechasa.
His older sister, Bemnet, played a major role in his decision to pursue nursing through the Integrated Nursing Pathway (INP) program at CCA. Currently in medical school in Chicago, Bemnet received an undergraduate degree in sociology. Post bachelor’s, she and Eaba had many conversations about “how to make enough of an impact.” She felt she was not doing so, and realized that many of her friends who pursued nursing were. Guiding her brother, Dechasa said, “I knew I wanted to do something big and nursing just seemed right,” said Dechasa.
By partnering with local community colleges, the INP program facilitates a unique pathway for students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Offered only through the Community College of Aurora, the Community College of Denver and Red Rocks Community College Arvada, the program includes simultaneous application and admission to both the community college and CU College of Nursing. According to Dechasa, “The INP program was fantastic. If you don’t have resources or know how to navigate college it makes it manageable.”
Inspired to be a nurse and leader, Dechasa believes CU’s program is a gateway to that. “The College without me would be the same. But me without the College, I’d be nothing. It changed me in many ways. Once I got into the program I knew I was capable of doing anything.”