Born in Kenya as a refugee, raised by her grandmother and then immigrating to the United States in first grade, Iftu holds her Ethiopian and Oromo tribe identity close to her heart while disrupting the traditional gender roles of her culture. Focusing on her academics and advocacy led Iftu to be awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. She has found an outlet of self-expression through poetry and photography that increases understanding of her own identity and culture while allowing others to as well.
As a student at DSST Stapleton, Iftu, along with fellow Scholar, Kristen Narona, found there to be a lack of understanding between the students and staff. This led them to create People of Color, Point of View (POC POV) a student-led program that enriches academic experiences by promoting self-expression and cultivating a safe space for advocacy. “I will stand for those who can’t stand for themselves by breaking down the walls created by stereotypes and hate,” says Iftu. Her high school’s college counselor stated: “Iftu’s footprint is all over our community and she has established a legacy for other students to follow.”