Eden Ayaso, 25, was born in Israel after her parents made aliyah from Ethiopia. She grew up in a difficult neighborhood in Hadera. Her father bought her and her three siblings a computer so that they would stay inside and play. Eden was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was in fifth grade, but this did not stop her from excelling in school and fighting to be accepted into the army. Her iron will and determination to succeed were nurtured by Atidim as she rose to excellence as a Technion computer science major.
Eden’s parents went from a rural village in Ethiopia, where her father was a shepherd, to the city streets of Hadera in the span of a few weeks. Her father found work as a gardener at Israel’s exclusive Caesarea Golf Club and her mother worked as a seamstress, until she decided to stay at home to care for her four children.
“My parents always encouraged us to study hard,” says Eden. “My father worked at the Golf Club where he met Israel’s wealthiest people. He always told us that if we wanted to be like them we needed to invest in our education. There were no short cuts.”
Eden loved learning, especially subjects like math and logic and computers. In high school she was an honors student in physics and computers and she knew that she wanted to major in computer science.
When it came time for Eden to do her mandatory army service, the army rejected her because she had diabetes. Eden fought hard to get accepted, and she was finally given a position in Air Force Intelligence, working on simulation development.
“We all learned resilience from my father,” says Eden. “He worked as a gardener for 27 years, but he loved to play golf. This year, at the age of 50, he decided to enter the Masters tournament for the first time, competing against the best players. Miraculously, he won; the only Ethiopian-Israeli to ever reach the pinnacle of Israel’s golf world.”
Eden heard about Atidim from her older brother Avraham, who is now an Atidim graduate and was featured in the newsletter two years ago when he began working at Apple Computers. With the program’s support she excelled in the Technion’s Pre-Academic Preparatory Program (Mechina) and was accepted to the Technion’s prestigious and demanding computer science major.
“I am so grateful to Atidim for giving me everything I needed to focus on my studies,” says Eden. “I don’t think I would have been able to sustain this intensity if I had to work to put myself through university. This program opens doors for so many young people like me and my brother and now for my younger sister. It is paving the way for us to succeed. There is no other program like it.”
This story originally appeared on atidim.org.
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