Hello! My name is Haimanot Tilahun, and I’m sure most of you have no idea how to pronounce that! It is a lot easier to say than it looks, I promise. Hey-ma-not. In the fourth grade, a friend of mine made my life a lot easier by nicknaming me “Ham.” I always wonder what people think when I tell them my name is Ham. My second sentence almost always goes as followed, “of course my name isn’t actually Ham.” They always laugh. It’s always a good conversation starter when someone asks you “like the lunch meat?” The best part is always when I sarcastically say “EXACTLY.”
I was born in in Washington D.C., but raised in Alexandria, Virginia by amazing Ethiopian-American parents. Growing up, I wanted nothing more but to blend right in. Living in Northern Virginia does that to you. Halfway through high school, my family and I visited Ethiopia and the trip was life changing for me. I fell in love with my culture and it made me so much happier to be me.
I sometimes wish I could tell some fantastic story of how my mother taught me to sew when I was younger, and how I always knew I’d study fashion, but fortunately that’s not my story. I’ve always been interested in fashion, but probably not in the way that most would expect. I remember being nine years old and refusing to take my favorite purple sweater off. I was sure that it brought me good luck, and more importantly, it made me feel good. Luckily, over the years, I’ve grown up and learned that no matter how much you love something, you shouldn’t wear it every day.
After graduating high school, I announced to all my friends and family that I’d be attending Virginia Commonwealth University, where I had been accepted into the Fashion Merchandising program. Time after time, I heard the same question, “What kind of job do you think you’ll land with a degree in fashion?” I continue to respond to that question with the same response, “Well, we all have to get dressed every morning, right?”
As a sophomore at VCU, I could not be any more excited to see what the future has in store for me. Richmond has a way of making me feel right at home, and there is no better feeling. Life has it’s way of playing out just how it is supposed to, and I know that me being right here, in Richmond, studying what I love is exactly how it should be. Having said that, I hope that this semester I am able to present Richmond as the true beauty that it is!