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Campus Celebrity: Addesse Haile

Addesse is a Laurier alumni with a heart of gold. Inspired to help students with their marks, he started up the program known to Laurier as Grade Up. Check out what this Laurier alumni has to say about his own organization, as well as advice he has for current students! 

Program: WLU/UW Math & Business Double-degreeGraduating Year: Graduated in 2015Hometown: Toronto

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I recently graduated from the Math/Business double-degree and I work for a strategy consulting company called Satov Consultants!

During your time at Laurier, what were you involved in?

I was an Icebreaker for my third year and I was a Residence Life Don during my fourth and fifth years. I was on the JDCC Entrepreneurship team for my fourth and fifth year (2X champions) and I was part of the Laurier Start-up Fund (the $1M+ student-managed fund that invests in local start-ups).

What is Grade Up?

Grade Up is a premium, peer-tutoring company. We match top-performing senior students with students who need help in a course. Grade Up is useful if you’re preparing for a test or want to brush up on difficult concepts, but our goal is to create an ongoing mentorship relationship so that our students build their study-skills and confidence. We don’t just want to teach course content; we want to improve the way our students learn. 

What inspired you to start Grade Up?

In third year I helped a student who was struggling in a finance course get an A on their final exam. I was a Residence Life Don at that point, and I would constantly see first year students struggling with their material. I wanted to refer them to a tutor, but there really wasn’t anywhere that I could direct them to. I decided to create Grade Up in order to meet that need.    

What has been the most fulfilling outcome so far that has come from Grade Up?

The most fulfilling thing about Grade Up is seeing students flourish. We’ve done over a thousand hours of tutoring now and it is incredibly powerful to see each student steadily improve and grow more confident with each session.

What was the biggest challenge in starting up your own business/organization?

Balancing school with starting your own business is difficult. University is a wonderful place to start a business because students have access to so many start-up resources (courses, mentorship, etc.) but there are only so many hours in the day. Entrepreneurship is a job that never ends and if you don’t set strong boundaries, it will seep into your other activities. I still struggle to compartmentalize things.

As a Laurier alumni, what two pieces of advice do you have for current students?

First, don’t let your peers dictate your path. When you look at your Facebook or LinkedIn it can feel like your friends are doing huge, and incredibly prestigious things. Allow that to be a motivator, but don’t try to emulate their path. Second, be ruthless about the way you spend your time. Ghandi said it best: “Actions express priorities.” I had a million different things on the go and all of them were interesting and valuable but it burnt me out to be running in so many different directions. I wish I had been thoughtful about choosing activities that best align with my priorities, and said no to the other stuff.   

Where are you at now? Where has Laurier taken you after graduation?

I work at a strategy consulting firm called Satov Consultants. We help big companies solve tough problems. We’ve worked with clients like Yogen Fruz, Sleeman Breweries, The Score Media. I’m still involved with Grade Up after graduation but we have a wonderful team in place lead by Pranav Bakaraju that are taking Grade Up to the next level. I hope I’ll be able to take my learnings from big business and apply it to Grade Up as we grow.

If you had the chance to go back to Laurier, is there anything you would change about your experience?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Going to Laurier was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The challenges made me who I am, and it was an honour to be in school with so many wonderful people.

We thank you for introducing Grade up to Laurier, and wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors, Addesse! 

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Veronica Puistonen

Wilfrid Laurier

Contributing Writer for the WLU Campus Chapter. Fourth year Honours Communication Studies student. 
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