People of SU / Science / Technology and Health

What Matters Most

Written by Beth Branchaw, College of Nursing

February 27, 2019

Seattle skyline

Image credit: Yosef Kalinko

Ridgway Scholar Belen Mesele, '22, is increasing health literacy among Seattle’s Ethiopian community.

As the 2019 recipient of the Dr. Eileen Ridgway Endowed Nursing Scholarship, nursing student Belen Mesele, ’22, is undertaking an outreach project that is near and dear to her heart. 

Pursuing a Doctorate in Nursing Practice in Advanced Community Public Health, Mesele is in the first year of the advanced practice nursing immersion program. In her project—“Pay Attention to What Matters Most,” Mesele is working to increase health literacy among patients in Seattle’s Ethiopian community. Working with EthnoMed, a website containing medical and cultural information about immigrant and refugee groups, Mesele is creating culturally appropriate brochures and a website about different diseases that often affect members of the Ethiopian community, whose primary language is Amharic.

For Mesele the project extends an established track record of leadership within Seattle’s Ethiopian community. A member of the Ethiopian Health Council, she organizes various activities to address health topics specific to educating the community, including a monthly health forum and an annual Ethiopian Health Fair. 

In 2011, Mesele founded the health segment of the Ethio Youth Media (EYM) community TV show to promote physical and social wellness in her community through interviews with experts on a wide range of topics, such as nutrition, mental health, tobacco use and obtaining health insurance. 

“Just like many of Seattle U’s graduates and faculty, I have a commitment to act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed,” says Mesele. “For me, obtaining a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is not simply a goal. It’s an opportunity to gain the knowledge I need to help patients access the resources they need…and use my ability to communicate in ways that are responsive to their cultural and socioeconomic circumstances.” 

Seattle University students, such as Mesele continue the legacy of Dr. Eileen Ridgway, who is remembered for her relentless dedication to nursing practice, education, caring and social justice. Created to inspire emulation of her work and vision, the Ridgway Scholarship fuels leadership development by empowering student involvement in community outreach, service and civic efforts.

Learn more about the scholarship at College of Nursing.