Eden Mekonen (she/her/እሷ) is a dual-title Ph.D. student in geography and African studies. As a human geographer, her interests are broadly focused on inter- and intra-community identity formation and placemaking within/across Horn of Africa diasporas, specifically among communities that (im)migrated from/within Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Mekonen is further interested in engaging in participatory action research to reciprocally work with (trans)national (im)migrants on issues related to othering and belonging to understand how identity and perceptions of identity are informed by place and context. This passion for community-engaged scholarship stems from her time participating in service-learning coursework in which she conducted oral histories with Ethiopian (im)migrant women in Durban, South Africa; and conducted fieldwork on the socio-political significance of the Los Angeles Little Ethiopia ethnic enclave to the African Diaspora; and continues today through her work with the Black Alumni Organization (BAO) of Occidental College’s Critical Hope and Black Life at Occidental digital archive.
Prior to studying at Penn State, Mekonen worked at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service where she facilitated and supported students’ exploration of the intersections of leadership, ethics, and sustainable community-partnerships to deepen their knowledge of issues related to justice, equity, belonging, and public service locally, regionally, (trans)nationally, and internationally. Additionally, Mekonen has worked in the nonprofit sphere at women and youth serving organizations in Los Angeles, California, such as Las Fotos Project through AmeriCorps: Public Allies and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at Selamta Family Project through the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship.
Mekonen earned her bachelor's degree in critical theory and social justice with a postcolonial theory emphasis and minor in interdisciplinary writing from Occidental College.