DISD Graduate Headed to West Point

West Point
Hamersen Bekele | Image by Bekele Family

A Dallas ISD student is receiving recognition after graduating from W.T. White High School and announcing he will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Hamersen Bekele, originally from a small village in Ethiopia, is headed to the prestigious military academy that has trained some of the most recognizable names in U.S. military history.

Nebyou Yonas, W.T. White High School senior Marine ROTC instructor, is from the same village as Bekele and spoke to NBC 5 DFW about the student.

“It’s one of those really remarkable things,” Yonas said. “[Bekele] grew up in the same exact village, learned how to swim in the same lake, decades apart. … I see myself in him.”

When Bekele first met Yonas, he was surprised when he spoke to him in his native language.

“The first word he said to me was in my language,” Bekele told NBC 5.

Bekele says he never thought he would find a mentor in North Texas from his village more than 8,000 miles away in Northeast Africa.

“That’s one of the most amazing things that ever happened,” Bekele said. “I literally found a very large connection between him and me.”

While still in Ethiopia, Bekele learned English by watching American television, specifically the TV show “Friends.”

He said Yonas inspires him to aim high and gives him hope for his own future.

“He literally came from the same background as me,” Bekele added. “So him achieving that makes me think I can achieve it, too.”

Yonas expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Yonas said. “That’s the beauty of this country; it’s a small world after all.”

Bekele’s achievement is especially remarkable in light of DISD’s historically poor performance, including an on-time graduation rate of just 81% for the class of 2021.

After he graduates from West Point, Bekele said he wants to attend medical school and become a surgeon.

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