UHV nursing graduate student accustomed to breaking through barriers

MeKonnen Birru

There are those who are content with taking the path of least resistance, and there are those who prefer to keep it interesting.

University of Houston-Victoria graduate student MeKonnen Birru welcomes a challenge.

Birru left his home in Ethiopia 16 years ago for a college scholarship. The decision meant leaving behind family and friends, but also offered a bit of adventure.

“I came from a country where English is not native,” Birru said. “I remember when I came; I didn’t know the language that much. It was difficult and there were barriers, but I worked at it.”

That effort paid off, and Birru excelled in classes, earning his doctorate in clinical psychology from Walden University in Minneapolis.

But it didn’t end there.

Birru returned to the classroom for a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and he went on to enroll in UHV’s Master of Science of Nursing program. He takes classes at UH Sugar Land, where UHV offers many degree programs.

“I think I am addicted to school,” he said with a laugh. “I have always loved learning. I will always love it.”

Birru’s achievements aren’t limited to the university world. An accomplished writer, Birru has published three books – two in his native language, Amharic, and a third in English.

Deep In True Self: Where You Find Purpose and Joy In Life, by Dr. MeKonnen H. Birru

His latest work, “Deep In True Self: Where You Find Purpose and Joy In Life,” encourages people to stand up against struggles and face issues head on.

“Life is not always easy,” Birru explained. “You have to be strong. If you can face whatever challenge comes to you, you can be successful.”

In what little free time he has from his coursework and writing – he has a fourth book in the works – Birru enjoys reading and traveling.

“I like going places, taking road trips,” he said, noting recent adventures included trips to Dallas and Washington, D.C. “It’s very relaxing.”

Looking ahead, Birru said he expects to finish his master’s degree in the spring of 2013. After that, he plans to further feed that academic addiction, by going back for a second doctorate, this time in Epidemiology.

Eventually, however, he hopes to go home.

While Birru, 40, makes it to Ethiopia once every couple of years, he said he would like to return for good. And he hopes to take something special back with him: a new health-related school.

“I hope to see it standing there may be in the next 10 years,” he said, explaining he wanted to help others reach their goals. “That is my plan. I want to see it happen.”

I am a Jaguar is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342