Collegiate life at The University of Toledo is a family affair for senior Jalane Moti Jaleta and her younger brothers, Robera and Roba.
Jalane, who is scheduled to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, arrived at UToledo in the fall of 2018 and loved her experience so much that she encouraged her brothers to become Rockets too.
All now enrolled in the College of Engineering, the trio of siblings from Ethiopia credit their parents at home in Africa for encouraging them to pursue higher education and careers in the U.S. and thank the UToledo Center for International Studies and Programs (CISP) and fellow international students for helping them find their footing when they first arrived on campus.
“CISP provides so many resources starting with Orientation Week,” Jalane said. “It also felt so good to be welcomed into homes as part of the Toledo International Hospitality Program, which matches international students with families from the community. I was connected to two families and still stay in contact with them now four years later. One of the women had actually adopted a child from Ethiopia and cooked Ethiopian food for me.”
Active in the Ethiopian Student Organization, Jalane enjoys attending events to present her culture to the campus community.
She is particularly looking forward to the return of the International Dinner, known as I-Dinner, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 26, in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Hosted by the International Students Association, it’s a UToledo tradition spanning more than four decades featuring international culture, performances and food.
“We weren’t able to host International Dinner the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’re excited to bring back the global cultural experience that provides students from 83 different countries around the world the opportunity to showcase their culture, traditions and sense of community,” said Sara Clark, director of the UToledo Center for International Studies and Programs.
Jalane recalls it was cooking authentic cuisine with several international students in Parks Tower in March of 2020 that carried them through the beginning of the pandemic. She said campus was otherwise empty, but many international students did not travel home for fear of not being able to return to the U.S.
“My roommate was from India,” Jalane said, “and we learned about each other’s culture by making food together.”
Her dad was able to visit her in the summer of 2020 to help move her into an apartment, and she eventually flew home to Ethiopia in December that year to visit her family.
“We’ve all lived through a fascinating time,” said Jalane, who has since completed three in-person co-ops at Innovative Handling in Sylvania as paid, hands-on experience in the mechanical engineering industry.
Her 18-year-old brothers, who are twins, arrived at UToledo in fall 2021.
Robera studies bioengineering and Roba studies mechanical engineering.
“I always loved cars and knew I wanted to build cars,” Roba said. “After I graduate, I’ll either stay here in the U.S. or maybe move to Europe because that is where Formula 1 Racing is.”
“From syringes to MRI machines, bioengineering is more interactive with hospitals and medical devices,” Robera said. “Back home we see people who do not get the proper care they need. I want to travel the world and help people.”
Meanwhile, their sister has a big decision to make in the next few months: go to graduate school and pursue mechatronics or get a full-time job.
No matter what path she chooses, she says she plans to stay in Toledo near her brothers.
“Jalane embodies the heart of a true Rocket,” Clark said. “She is dedicated to ensuring all international students feel welcome on our campus. She volunteers her time during International Welcome Week and Orientation greeting all the new international Rockets. She helps new students — not only her brothers — get adjusted to life on campus when they first arrive. Jalane does all of this with a bright smile on her face and a warm heart, making each person she interacts with feel comfortable.”