Video and Q & A with Salem Habte, who is inspired by her family’s business
Get to know our students, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about
Why did you choose UMKC?
I wanted to go to a college with a progressive, diverse student body. I was lucky enough to go to a high school (Olathe North) with every kind of student, and I didn’t want to go somewhere that lacked that. A family friend told me that this university was full of culturally diverse students who really thought outside of the box. I had the opportunity to meet with the chancellor before making a final decision on where to go. He was very welcoming, funny and such a bright guy. He advised that I join the entrepreneurship program and so I did.
What else inspired your field of study?
My father is a great influence on me. We have a family-owned coffee shop, Revocup Coffee Roasters, in Overland Park. He believes in attacking a problem in the world with a business model. He follows that belief with our coffee shop. We have been able to give back and fight the literary famine in Ethiopia— so far 25 libraries have been built.
What I’ve learned is that entrepreneurship is really a form of applied creativity and that the entrepreneurs who really flourish are passionate and willing to extend the limits of what is possible.
What are the challenges and benefits of the program?
From what I’ve seen, to lead a successful project or business, you have to be crazy. The amount of hard work is impossible unless you’re relentlessly driven by a cause or a vision. It can be challenging to stick to something even when the going gets tough, or to try an idea that doesn’t work. But those become learning experiences.
The benefits are the people you get to meet and work with. Most of these connections have happened through an incredible organization that I’ve been involved in since my first day here, called UMKC Enactus. I’ve only been in Enactus for a year and have gotten to work on projects with so many unique individuals on and off campus.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?
That what I do in class will get me a job, and what I accomplish outside of class will get me a promotion. My extracurricular activities have shaped me and have given me priceless experiences and knowledge, and I think those are what will really open doors for me when I graduate.
What motto do you live by?
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.” –Bill Nye
What do you admire most at UMKC?
I admire the enthusiasm of UMKC as a whole. My school supports and sees me. My efforts are visible here. UMKC has provided me a platform and there’s a lot of love to go around.
Are you a first-generation college student?
Yes! The authentic first-generation experience is different for everyone and is very personal, but I think that basically we all live with something to prove. The dream for first-generation Americans, whether that’s joining the workforce straight out of high school, going to college or embarking on a new mission, is to realize one day that we’ve used our beginnings as motivation to transcend anyone’s expectations.
What are your life goals?
Michelle Obama is a huge inspiration. I would like to start projects, nonprofit organizations on a business scale. I would like to have a heavy influence on making lives better and put effort into making this world a better place. I want to give a TED Talk.
What is one word that best describes you?
Joyous! I’m pretty responsible for the energy I bring into a space and I’ve found that when I put out positivity, I usually get positivity back.
From across the country and around the world, our students come together in Kansas City to study business, medicine, theatre and more than 100 other academic areas. Roos become leaders in their fields and give back to their communities.