Thomas Edison once said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” Health Sciences District Admin Senior Sanay Emnetu has worked hard as a building and grounds worker since coming to the United States in 2006, and continually advanced his skills and responsibilities as a result.
Six months after emigrating from Kenya, Emnetu started as a third shift B&G on the West Bank in May 2007. One of the things he likes about working here at the U is the opportunities available for those who work hard.
Emnetu was selected as a member of a project team in the Health Sciences District in April 2008. After two years working projects, he applied for a Senior B&G opening upon the recommendation of his supervisor Haile Redda.
The seniors that he worked with in Health Sciences were very encouraging. They even helped him prepare for the interview process by testing him on all of the equipment that he would need to operate as a senior and telling him they thought he was ready for the job. Emnetu was promoted Senior B&G in June 2009 and said that his experience as both a B&G and project worker helped him learn the skills to become a Senior. He received a Gold Standard Award after his first year as a Senior.
Born in Eritrea, Emnetu’s family moved to Sudan in the 1980’s to avoid the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict. When he was 16 years-old, a German non-profit organization came to Sudan to help Eritrean refugees gain skills for their eventual return home. He dropped out of highs school for a year to complete his electrician’s training.
His family went back to Eritrea in 1996 after Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia. Emnetu completed high school while working as an electrician, and then worked full-time for three years in Eritrea before returning to Sudan when the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict resumed.
After a year and a half he decided to move to Kenya in hopes of eventually moving abroad to Europe or the United States. During his four years in Kenya, Emnetu was able to work as a bus driver and then an electrician in Nairobi’s Eritrean and Ethiopian neighborhoods. His skills in repairing traditional Ethiopian ovens made him popular in Nairobi’s refugee community. The ovens were used both in restaurants and homes, so there were lots of customers to service. Emnetu would like to eventually become a maintenance electrician at the U.
A resident of Falcon Heights, Emnetu has a few relatives here but has not seen his immediate family in 11 years. His mother and brother live in Eritrea, another brother and sister are in Switzerland, and he has a third brother in Israel.
Since he became a citizen in 2011, Emnetu would now like to go back to Eritrea and visit his mother. With a little hard work, there’s no doubt he will make it home soon.