Hometown Hero Desta Seifu

Written by Credit Union of Texas
Published April 24, 2019
students in classroom learning image of students in classroom

College is meant to be a road to a bright future. But that road can be strewn with obstacles that prevent students from succeeding, like: the need to work to support yourself or family members while you go to school; learning styles or language barriers that make comprehension of tough subjects difficult; poorly written textbooks or “meh” teachers. Desta Seifu understands all these challenges.

The Assistant Director of the Academic Bridge Program at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), Seifu dedicates his time, both on and off the clock, helping students navigate college. The Academic Bridge Program focuses on helping students transition from high school to college. He and his staff of about 15 individuals help students with supplemental tutoring, mentoring and guidance through their challenging courses. But in his spare time, he also works to help students at all levels understand their science and math classes. This alleviates a huge element of the struggle for the students in his program that might have jobs, help take care of family members, or are not prepared adequately for the college experience.

He started out helping students through tutoring. Having graduated UTD with a degree in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Seifu is well-versed in complex students and the challenges they may face while trying to succeed in these courses. He uses his many years of experience to help new students avoid pitfalls and pushes them to reach for their full potential. As demand for his help grew, he began developing short instructional videos that teach concepts in an easy-to-follow manner with examples. Over the years, Seifu has produced almost 1,000 of these videos that are free and accessible to any student with access to the Internet. They are watched in more than 160 countries across the world, and cover topics such as biology, physics, neuroscience and more.

Plus, Seifu uses technology to tutor students during early morning or late evening hours, or those that might be stuck away from campus due to illness or other obstacles.

Seifu also realized that many of the textbooks were poorly written and difficult to comprehend, so he started creating concise handouts that cover the pertinent information in a comprehensible way. They were so helpful, and so popular, the university asked Seifu to move them to its website.

Seifu has been teaching and helping students for more than 25 years. That means that countless doctors, scientists, mathematicians, and more are out in the world, solving problems and healing patients because he took his own time to go in front of them and help clear the path.

Desta Seify was nominated by the Ross Branch Location as a Hometown Hero. If you would like to support the students of the Academic Bridge Program, you can donate here. Find out more about the program here.