Meet a New Member: Rebecca Belay Kassa
Rebecca Belay Kassa is an Ethiopian national currently residing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has boundless love and admiration for her country. She is proud of being Ethiopian for so many reasons including the traditional and cultural values of the country. Ethiopians are very much attached to their cultures and religions. Although they are diverse people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, they all share a number of values. Ethiopians are polite and respectful to a great extent. They always have warm greetings to anyone who they meet.
Their hospitality is something that is proven true by a lot of foreigners. They are friendly people who are generous towards each other as well as outsiders. They believe in supporting and helping each other at times of need. There is always a sense of love in their gatherings. Education is valued amongst Ethiopians. An educated person instantly gains respect and honour from the community. These values are few among many that truly affirm the sense of nationality for Rebecca.
Rebecca attained her B.Sc. Degree in Civil Engineering from Addis Ababa University. Following that, she got a prestigious scholarship to study her Master’s Degree at the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Her passion for environmental sustainability and creating a safe, clean and healthy environment led her to do both her undergraduate and postgraduate research work on incorporating plastic waste in the construction industry. Her undergraduate research evaluated the outcomes of an attempt to reinforce and stabilize expansive clay soil with plastic bottle strips. Different sizes and mixing ratios of the plastic strips were added to the soil and the results were studied. Similarly, she did a research that evaluated the effects of using PET fibres and fly ash on the performance of concrete for her masters study. The fibres were added to concrete at different percentages and their effect on the improvement of the tensile strength of concrete were studied. Beyond the engineering properties, the research assessed the economic and environmental advantages of the addition of PET to concrete. She has published four scientific articles in international journals from her previous studies.
During her stay at the Pan African University, alongside her education, she was a member of the pioneering team of the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Innovation and Technology (PAUSTI) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club. As a pioneering General Secretary of the PAUSTI Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club, she has gained a significant experience in developing her leadership, communication, planning and organizing skills. By working and learning with a diverse group of people from over thirty-three different African countries, she established a skill to comfortably be part of a multi-cultural environment.
Rebecca is currently volunteering at the US Embassy in Ethiopia to train the Ethiopian youth on environmental issues, specifically plastic pollution. She is also the General Secretary of the team that is starting the Earth Charter Youth Initiative in Ethiopia. Apart from that she is working on starting a project that focuses on manufacturing roofing and pavement tiles from recycled plastic waste. Turning trash to treasure being the motivating principle for her, she puts all her efforts to add value to plastic waste and save the environment form its crucial effects. She believes there is still a lot to be done in her country and education is the major tool to tackle most of the problems that Ethiopia as a country is facing. She believes the cultural and traditional values in her country can and will be assets if they get intertwined with the education system. She works hard and strives to learn and expand her knowledge in all possible ways in order to be well experienced to give back to her community and country.