WES Advisor Blog

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How a Credential Evaluation Changed My Life

Tuesday | July 23, 2019 | by Mekonnen Tesfaye

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Mekonnen Tesfaye came to the United States in 2014. He is now a PhD candidate at University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.

But his journey was not easy. When he first arrived, he struggled to find work and continue his education.

He believes that his life turned around thanks to a credential evaluation from WES. Read his immigrant success story below.


I am an Ethiopian. I was born and raised in Ethiopia, and I received my bachelor’s degree in public administration and development management from Addis Ababa University—the top university in the country.

After working five years for different nongovernmental organizations, I moved to Norway to pursue my master’s degree. I studied international community health at the University of Oslo Norway.

Immediately after I graduated, I got an offer from UNICEF as an international consultant and state lead for the polio eradication program based in Nigeria. I worked there for about two years before I moved to the U.S.

My Experience in the U.S.

When I first arrived in the United States, things did not go as expected. Despite the fact that I had a lot of professional experience, and a master’s degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, without a credential evaluation it was not easy for me to continue with my PhD or get a professional job.

Before I got my credential evaluation, I applied to universities and to agencies and employers in the Washington, D.C. area. Most of them were not interested enough to even invite me for an interview.

But once I could prove my education was equivalent to a U.S. education, things changed.

It was tremendous that WES changed my life in this way. WES is not only a credential evaluation agency—it’s really a bridge that connects skilled immigrants to opportunities.

One of the things that made my life easy was the digital badge that WES provided. It gave me a sense of empowerment and energy. I got it a few months ago. The day I got my badge, I immediately added it to my LinkedIn profile page. Afterwards, multiple recruiters reached out to me for interviews.

Future Goals

Once I finish my PhD, my long-term objective is to pursue broad-based research and continue developing my advocacy organization, which is called Jantilla. The name means “embracing & sharing ideas.” I started it with two of my friends to promote the idea that immigrants with relevant skills can contribute in a very meaningful way.

Immigrants should not have to work in low-level jobs because they lack information or because the system is hard to penetrate.

My Advice

I recommend internationally educated individuals start their job search, or graduate school applications, after getting their credentials evaluated. There is so much pride and dignity that comes with receiving a U.S. or Canadian [credential evaluation].

To read more about the impact of credential evaluations, check out the WES Annual Report.

Ready to start the credential evaluation process?

Begin the online application now!

Mekonnen Tesfaye

Mekonnen Tesfaye is a PhD student at University of the Cumberlands and cofounder of the advocacy organization Jantilla.