The following article is from the University of Gondar’s Steering Committee and is disseminated by the University of Gondar’s Public and International Relations Directorate:
Dear University of Gondar Alumni and Friends,
On behalf of the University of Gondar’s (UoG) Alumni Steering Committee in the US, Professor Elias Siraj, representative of the committee, wrote of the ceremony that recognized Dr. Gebreselassie Okubagzi. The event on Sunday 24 September 2017 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area was conducted to recognize Dr. Gebreselassie for his lifelong service in coordination with the University of Gondar.
Dr. Gebreselassie is a well-known public health professional whose service in Gondar has spanned many generations and has crossed various historic eras of the University. His contributions were in the areas of teaching, research and community service. During the early days of the medical school (GCMS), many remember his dedication, discipline, enthusiasm and hard work in all the activities that he undertook. He was one of the pillars of the then new medical school during its early days as the institution struggled to create its identity. Through his dedication and effort, Dr. Gebreselassie became a role model for many who would pursue public health as career.
The ceremony was conducted at Dama restaurant in Annandale Virginia. Close to 40 people attended the ceremony, which included his former students from the early days of the Gondar College of Medical Sciences (GCMS), including many from the historic first batch of 1984. In addition, some of his colleagues from his days at the Public Health College were also present to take part in his day of recognition.
Dr. Gebreselassie arrived at the ceremony surrounded by his wife Dr. Dehab, who was a Biochemistry teacher at GCMS, his 2 kids including Dr. Petros, who himself is a 1989 graduate of GCMS as well as several of his grand kids.
The members of the Steering Committee welcomed Dr. Gebreselassie, his family and all the alumni who came in from near and far to attend this important ceremony. Representing the steering committee, Professor Elias Siraj read the life history of Dr. Gebreselassie and highlighted his key contributions not only to UoG but also to the country at large in all areas of public health. Professor Elias also highlighted his personal recollection of Dr. Gebreselassie when he was his former student.
Many other alumni as well as former colleagues took turns to describe their own recollections regarding Dr. Gebreselassie. The key themes were his excellent teaching skills, commitment, sense of purpose and work ethic, which he imparted onto his students and trainees. Along with this, congratulatory messages were read that were sent from Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, president of UoG, and Dr. Sisay Yifru, dean of the College of Medicine & Health Sciences. Both congratulated Dr. Gebreselassie for the recognition he received and thanked him for the various historic roles he played in the history of the University of Gondar.
What ensued afterwards were brief addresses and telling of personal stories by his kids and grandkids. They thanked Dr. Gebreselassie not only for his role at UoG but also for his direct influence in their lives. Finally, Dr. Gebreselassie himself gave a concise but powerful address thanking the Steering Committee for recognizing him and giving him such acknowledgment after so many years. He later mentioned that the idea of ‘recognizing worthy individuals’ should become a widespread culture and tradition in Ethiopia.
Finally a plaque of recognition was presented to him by the Steering Committee as a token of his decades of service to the University of Gondar.
The ceremony was conducted as a lunch ceremony, which gave an opportunity for all attendees to interact and socialize throughout the occasion. Some of the alumni have not seen one another for over 30 years and this gave them an opportunity to interact. There were also opportunities to discuss about possible future alumni activities and the need to work closely with the University of Gondar’s leadership for the betterment of the university and for increased engagement of alumni in supporting their Alma matter.
The ceremony was adjourned with the hope for the alumni to meet and to see each other more regularly in the future.
University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee, USA
Anteneh Habte, MD (1984)
Elias Said Siraj, MD (1988)
Mulugeta Z. Fissha, MD (1998)
Nuru Abseno Robi, MD (1988)
Yared Aytaged Gebreyesus, MD (1988)
Yared Wondimkun Endailalu, MD (1986)
Public and International Relations Directorate