Student Honored by Minnesota Campus Compact

Presidents’ Student Leadership Award: Dereje Lajebo

Dereje Lajebo, a 21-year-old sophomore at Inver Hills Community College, was recently recognized by Minnesota Campus Compact with the 2020 Presidents’ Student Leadership Award.

According to Minnesota Campus Compact: “This award is for an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.”

“Do not wait until you are ready,” Dereje said, “make today count and do not dwell on your past mistakes. I received this award because I followed my passion, and I didn’t wait until I was ready.”

A 2018 graduate of East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota, Dereje, or DJ, is an exceptionally active student at Inver Hills. DJ is Economics Club president, Basic Insecurity Prevention (BIP) Committee chair, Black Student Union (BSU) treasurer and DECA treasurer. He also serves as a student ambassador and an economics tutor.

DJ is earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills with plans to transfer to University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, or New York University (NYU) after he graduates from Inver in August 2020. He will be majoring in economics and his career goals are centered on becoming a social entrepreneur or working for a social enterprise.

More about DJ…

Originally from Newport, Minnesota, DJ is one of seven siblings in his family. He has three sisters: Genet, 25, works as a nursing assistant at Regions Hospital and she’ll be graduating from Metropolitan University with her bachelor’s degree in March 2020; Bereket, 17, attends Inver Hills as a PSEO student and she’ll be going to Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the fall; Mishame, 5, is a first grader.

DJ’s three brothers are Habtamu, 19, a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, Emanuel, 15, a junior at East Ridge High School, and Ephrem, 14, a sophomore at East Ridge.

In his free time, DJ stays fit by doing weight work, including bench presses as well as dumbbell presses and curls. He also enjoys playing soccer and going on long walks and runs along the Mississippi River.

“I lived right by the Mississippi River half my life—and I take advantage of it,” he said.

DJ resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

DJ at Inver gallery

Dereje Lajebo Q & A

Why did you choose your career path?
My career plans have changed quite a bit. I initially wanted to major in economics because I wanted to become an analyst, but that has changed. I would like to start a social enterprise or work for a social enterprise because I want to make a real difference in the world. Being part of a social enterprise will give me an opportunity to help entrepreneurs in less developed parts of the world.

What qualities and attributes do students need to be strong leaders?
To be a strong leader a student must:

  1. Be able to manage his/her time properly
  2. Have a purpose
  3. Be open minded and welcome criticism
  4. Make his/her voice heard
  5. Block out negativity and have as much fun as possible

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What is the greatest challenge facing your generation?
I believe that the greatest challenge facing our generation is getting accurate information. There are many profits-driven, irresponsible misinformation campaigns out there, and I think that can be dangerous if we are not careful.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
In 20 years, I see myself in leadership team of a successful social enterprise.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


DJ 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Soccer and running
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Lake Lugano in Switzerland
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I once jumped off a cliff
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Go on trips 2) Buy a house 3) Start a social enterprise
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Rick and Morty
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Bloodshot
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Start a company
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Eagle
  9. Dream occupation: Don’t have one
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Bernie Sanders
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Speak six different languages
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Greed
Learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center

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