As a second semester senior, Beza Tuga has a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Not only will she be graduating from Plattsburgh State with a degree in biochemistry, she will be visiting some of the most prestigious graduate schools in the country, deciding which offer of admittance she wants to accept.
As an international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuga knew she wanted to come to the U.S. for school and was recommended Plattsburgh State by recruiters that came to her school and stories from peers that had attended.
Despite this great geographical change, Tuga has had no trouble making herself an influential component of the PSUC community.
“She’s not just a classroom student she’s very engaged in the academic community,” Karina Ckless, Plattsburgh State chemistry professor, said.
After joining her sophomore year, she rose through the ranks of the Plattsburgh State chapter of the American Chemical Society, one of the largest chemical societies in the world, and is now president of the club.
Fuga is also active outside of her department, working as an resident assistant for Harrington Hall.
“She’s very relatable, her residents go to her quite often just to chat about anything and everything,” Ally Johnson, Harrington Hall resident director, said. “They’ll tell her about how their day is or any problem they’re having.”
In addition to her personable attitude, Fuga applies her excellent work ethic to this job as well, always turning in paperwork on time, for which Johnson is ever so grateful.
“She holds herself to a high standard and holds herself very accountable, and does her work proudly and does it well,” Johnson said.
Tuga is also there to lend a hand to those in her program, working in the learning center as a tutor for chemistry.
This past summer, Tuga was able to gain excellent experience in her field by interning at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as an undergraduate research fellow.
“I wanted to see if I could do it as a job in the future like can i actually do this on my own,” Tuga said. “It can go both ways but thankfully it went the way I wanted it to and I did enjoy my experience although it was a lot of pressure and dealing with high end people so there’s a lot of intimidation tied to it but you know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Definitely makes you a lot more persevering on the other end.”
Fuga continues to get involved in research on the PSUC campus, as the research assistant to her current advisor Rajesh Sunasee, for the past three years.
“She has accomplished a lot in research,” Sunasee said. “We are about to publish a paper, and for me that’s usually not easy for an undergraduate student. When they start research it’s not every time they can end up with a publication but she works hard. That why she stands out.”
Growing up, Tuga’s family was, and remains to be, an amazing support system. Her mother in particular always encouraged her to work hard and become educated.
“In terms of my work ethic and how I approach things, my mom is one of my great inspirations,” Tuga said. “Even though she wasn’t able to get a higher education at an established institution she’s always been for it. She’s never been like oh you need to work instead of school.”
Tuga is active in spreading awareness about social issues, many of them connected to her field of study. She recently organized an event for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
“We are kind of working together to try to educate people about women in science issues,” said Ckless. “It’s very inspiring to work with her because we are in very different stages of careers but we have a very common goal and that’s very interesting, I’m learning a lot actually.”
As she continues her education, Tuga hopes to earn her doctorate in chemistry to one day work in a academic setting, doing research that has an impact on our world.
“It’s rewarding to work with a student that inspires us to be better mentors,” Ckless said. “She is one of them.”