Dame Gamada, is a black man with a short beard and short, curly black hair. He is wearing a royal blue Under Armor zip up and is smiling at the camera. This photo is courtesy of DCTC
Dame Gamada is a student at Dakota County Technical College.

Dame Gamada grew up in Ethiopia, and immigrated to the United States in 2015, seeking greater opportunities and his own version of the American Dream. He had always been interested in obtaining a college education, but wasn’t able to do so in his home country. When he came to the United States, he moved to Minnesota to live near family. After beginning at an adult education center in Saint Paul to improve his language skills, he learned about the college process and decided to begin taking classes at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC). Because of his hard work and ambition, he is now in the business management program, and on track to transfer to a four-year institution to finish his Bachelor’s degree Fall 2022. 

Dame is not only a student, but also a husband and father who works full-time yet still manages to take on leadership positions and advocate for his peers. He is currently a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and is the treasurer in DCTC’s student senate.

Student senate gave Dame the opportunity to grow in his leadership skills and work on meaningful projects, like the campus food pantry. He was also able to gain more confidence and improve his communication skills. One goal of his is to build community for immigrant students and make sure they feel accepted and welcomed on campus. He noted that throughout college, adjusting to U.S. culture has been the biggest challenge.

“In a new country, it’s difficult to adapt, to be trusted and to trust others. We cannot improve our confidence or learn without trust. I don’t know if they accept me or not, I don’t know how they think, I don’t know what they are saying…I understand what they said, but I don’t know why they asked me. That was the very biggest challenge. If you asked me to do this interview one year ago, I would say no, because I don’t know the outcomes, or why you’re doing this. Maybe as a new person or as an immigrant, we don’t have that confidence like people who were born here and grew up here. We don’t know what is hurting us and who’s on our side. So yes, culture and building trust was the biggest barrier for me as an immigrant. But in the student senate, I found that trust and was able to build confidence.”

Dame Gamada

Dame Gamada poses for a photo with Joe Biden. Both men are wearing surgical masks and suits.
Dame says meeting Joe Biden has been a highlight of his college experience.

Dame says his experiences with student senate, and especially building a close bond with his advisor Anna, helped him to feel comfortable in the U.S. and confident in his abilities to graduate college. He also credits his involvement with LeadMN for his success and growth as a leader and advocate for others. Where at first he thought he would be coming to DCTC only for a certificate, he is now on track to obtain his Associate’s degree in Spring 2022 and after plans to transfer to a four-year institution to get his Bachelor’s degree. In the future, Dame hopes to continue in the business field as a project manager.