Gideon Telahun

Gideon Telahun, El Segundo High School (ESHS) class of 2021, was recently selected as a 2021 Edison Scholar, one of only thirty high school seniors in Southern California to receive this honor.

The Edison Scholars Program recognizes “the makers of tomorrow,” students who want to advance their education in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) and dream of changing the world for the better. He will be recognized on May 21 during a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Edison International.

Each Edison Scholar is awarded a $40,000 college scholarship, given in increments of $10,000 per year for four years at a university. Edison International awarded a total of $1.2 million in scholarships to invest in the bright futures of the scholars and their communities. To qualify for the program, applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, show financial need, and plan to pursue studies in the STEM fields at a four-year accredited college or university.

Telahun was also awarded a $2,500 scholarship from Chick-fil-A, which he applied for as an employee of the company. He will use his scholarships to attend California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo this fall to pursue a degree in industrial engineering. 

“My future advancements in engineering will help tear down racial barriers and allow students of color who come after me to know they can achieve anything,” he said. As an industrial engineer, Telahun would find solutions to help eliminate wastefulness in production processes and devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy. He plans to do internships throughout college to get an idea of what kind of industrial engineering job he might like best.

The experience that can be gained from internships is irreplaceable, something Telahun knows well having participated in the Boeing internship program through ESHS. Interning at Boeing provided him with the opportunity to learn about different engineering fields and network with individuals throughout the company. He gained hands-on experience through online projects, including coding assignments, and he worked with multiple mentors along with his fellow interns. Only four ESHS students, including Telahun, were accepted into the Boeing internship program this year. 

Telahun also gained essential engineering experience through the ESHS Engineering Pathway. His capstone project involved attaching an engine to a bicycle to create a portable charger – his group received a 100% on their project report and documentation. “It taught me to think outside of the box to come up with different solutions,” he said. “The engineering pathway teaches you about critical thinking and a different way of thinking about things. I enjoy how students can express themselves through different types of engineering.”

Although writing was previously not one of Telahun’s strengths he credits his ESHS AP Language and Composition teacher Dr. Ray Gen with helping him develop and improve his writing skills. “It’s an important skill for engineering and business, and I’m grateful for Dr. Gen’s class.”

Telahun is also involved in a number of extracurricular activities. He is the captain of the ESHS varsity basketball team and a member of the ESHS Black Student Union. He said that some of his best memories at ESHS are when playing Eagles basketball. “Being on the court and making a shot during league home games with the crowd cheering was such a great feeling.” During this time of distance learning and social injustices, Telahun is thankful his fellow Black Student Union members were able to support each other and come together virtually to talk about common issues and share their experiences and ideas.

 Telahun volunteers his time as a youth activities director for the Little Ethiopia Culture and Resource Center in Los Angeles, where his aunt is director of operations. It’s a place close to his heart and where he and his sister spent a lot of time in their youth. He teaches and plays sports with the children there and helps the children get in touch with their cultural heritage. Many of the Ethiopian children served at the center have been adopted by American families.

His parents are from Ethiopia and during his past travels there, he noticed the difference the inequities in the accessibility of technology in different countries. Noticing the disconnect in access compared to the United States inspired him to plan on one day taking the skills he develops as an industrial engineer and traveling the world to bring advanced technologies to third-world countries.

In addition to his job at Chick-fil-A, Telahun also works as a park ambassador and a rover for the El Segundo Parks & Recreation Department. He visits the different parks in El Segundo to help out with activities and complete various assignments. 

Telahun says that the key to managing all his activities, work and academics is “time management.” He says he developed this skill over time with the assistance of his parents. “My parents are always encouraging me to prioritize,” he said. “Both of my parents inspire me. They are very supportive and their assistance has helped me get where I am today.”

View Telahun’s scholarship application video here: