As Kassim Abbanesha Hussein crosses the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota commencement stage on Saturday, June 3 to receive a Doctor of Business Administration diploma, part of his heart will remain in Oromia, Ethiopia.
Hussein fled his homeland 26 years ago—leaving behind an unspeakable level of danger and heartbreak.
At the tender age of 12, his beloved father was executed by the Ethiopian government because of his political beliefs. His oldest brother, his uncle, and two cousins were also killed for standing up against a corrupt dictatorial government. His youngest brother remains missing after 19 years.
“Ethiopia is in political crisis because of what the government is doing to our people,” he said. “People are simply demanding fairness and justice, and the government is responding with bloodshed. Although I came here 26 years ago, unfortunately people are still going through the same life and not knowing what will happen to them when they wake up the next day. As a child, we were suffering. I was afraid the government would come after us. Those who fight for justice and stand up are persecuted or killed. It is dangerous.”
Despite Ethiopia having one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it remains one of the world’s poorest countries due to a high level of corruption within its government.
When Hussein was determining the topic of his dissertation, his memories weighed heavily in his decision, as did his desire to determine whether or not the United Nations Convention against Corruption legislation, negotiated in 2003, has benefited countries like Ethiopia.
In “Analysis of the Effectiveness of Anticorruption Legislation in Developing Countries: The Impact on the National Well-Being of Adopting Nations,” Hussein closely examined 43 developing countries, using series of well-being indicators.
The results, unfortunately, have shown that there have been no significant improvements in the well-being of the countries he studied. “The intent of the United Nations Convention against Corruption was to improve the well-being of adopting nations by reducing poverty and income inequality through the reduction of corruption, but my research is not showing that has occurred,” he said. “I believe this should be further researched. I found six countries which have been ranked as ‘most improved’ and four countries as ‘least improved’. I would like to explore what these countries have in common in the fight against corruption. Future research may investigate what the under-performing countries have in common. Moreover, it would be interesting to investigate the differences these countries have with the countries that are ranked as ‘most improved’.”
Hussein feels a strong pull to social justice. It was his personal connection to Saint Mary’s mission and core values that brought him to the Twin Cities Campus 14 years ago to begin his studies in the M.B.A. program.
“Saint Mary’s core values are very emotionally appealing for me,” he said. “I saw myself there when I read about Saint Mary’s concern for the poor and for social justice and its respect for all persons. That is very important to me.”
After finishing his M.B.A., he returned to the university for his D.B.A. On June 3, he will become Saint Mary’s first graduate in the D.B.A. program. During his studies at Saint Mary’s, Hussein specialized in business economics and finance.
A compliance analyst for U.S. Bank, Hussein hopes to use his leadership skills in his career but also hopes to teach part-time to help share his passion for social justice.
“My greatest hope for the future is to see justice not only in Ethiopia, but justice everywhere,” he said.
This is an exciting year for Hussein’s family. On April 22, his wife received her doctoral degree, and his son will be graduating June 8 from Minnesota Math & Science Academy (with 49 college credits through Post Secondary Enrollment Options).
Hussein said during his own academic journey, he received support from individuals throughout the Saint Mary’s community—from staff members though administration. “How students are treated, the respect I received personally, and the support I received … I could not ask for more,” he said. “I can say that it was the best experience, and I recommend any student to check out Saint Mary’s.
“I know any program is not easy,” Hussein said. “but the doctoral program was my hardest and longest experience that was made easier by the support I received from my family and from the entire Saint Mary’s community. They really helped me to be where I am today and I am so grateful to all those who supported me.”
Saint Mary’s is hosting three commencement ceremonies on June 3 at its Twin Cities Campus.