“When I came here, I was on my own and I had to start from scratch.”  That’s how Feven, a refugee from Ethiopia, felt when she arrived in the United States after fleeing persecution in her country. Alone in an unfamiliar place, Feven would say to herself, “Give yourself time,” a reminder that she had the power to choose how she will live her life.

While in Ethiopia, Feven attended law school and then worked as a flight attendant for Ethiopian Airlines. In 2020, violence broke out between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray people, one of Ethiopia’s main ethnic groups. Feven, who is Tigrayan, fled Ethiopia fearing for her safety.  

In 2022, Feven resettled in Silver Spring. Without the close-knit network of support of her husband and family who are still in Ethiopia, Feven sought assistance from the International Rescue Committee. The IRC helped Feven apply for cash assistance, update her resume, and prepare for interviews, leading to a job at a jewelry store.  

Having secured an entry-level job, Feven turned her attention to more long-term goals. She considered returning to law, but her degree isn’t recognized in the U.S. As a flight attendant, Feven was responsible for medical emergencies on the plane and was trained in CPR and first aid, describing her role as a “nurse of the sky”. Because of this background of skills and experience, Feven decided to pursue a career in healthcare.  

Feven advises other refugee women coming to the United States on their own to be patient with themselves and believe that they control their future. “There are many opportunities in the United States, but it is challenging to figure it out when you first move here. It is important to listen to yourself, gather information, and then start on your way.”  

Through the IRC, Feven received a scholarship to Montgomery College to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She started her courses this spring. Reflecting on her experience, Feven said, “I’ve learned that I am capable of handling anything on my own. I can stand by myself. Being a woman, we can do anything.”