Dr. Chaltu Gifawesen was born in a rural area of Shewa, Ethiopia in the summer of 1948. After the untimely death of her father when Chaltu was just eight years old, her family relocated to Sandafa where there were better opportunities for her now single mother to provide for her family.
From a very young age Chaltu showed promise. Her teachers in the small town of Sandafa noticed her natural talent and eagerness to learn and suggested to her mother that she pursue her secondary school education in the nation’s capital of Addis Ababa. Soon after Chaltu was enrolled in a female boarding school, Etige Menen, in Addis Ababa. She excelled and was later accepted at Addis Ababa University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1970.
After completing her undergraduate studies, she taught high school science for two years in Nekemte and Addis Ababa. Eager to continue her studies, she applied for a masters program however this time she looked abroad. She was accepted at the North Dakota State University where she earned a Masters of Science degree in Bacteriology in 1974.
Upon graduation, she returned to Ethiopia and joined the Biology Department at Addis Ababa University as a lecturer and a research associate at the Institute of Pathobiology.
After marrying and bearing two children she once again sought the next step in her academic pursuits. Her husband, a civil servant, remained in Ethiopia while Chaltu temporarily moved her young family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she would pursue and receive her Ph.D. in Immunology and Parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania.
After being joined by her husband and receiving her Ph.D. the family moved to suburban Washington D.C. where Chaltu would become a research associate at the George Washington University. While at George Washington, she was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer that ultimately led to her death in 1995.
In her short life, Chaltu authored several scientific publications and participated in various international and national conferences and seminars. She was a respected intellectual with a natural gift for teaching and research.
Personally, she impacted many with her contagious optimism, caring nature and deep faith in Jesus Christ. At her passing in 1995 she left behind countless friends and family members including her husband, Goshu; children, Lensi and Admas; mother, Mrs. Belinesh; sisters, Mulumebet, Birtukan, and Hirut; and brothers, Negash, Debebe and Wondwosen.