Desta Bume is a 2010 Haslam Scholar who is a senior in the College Scholars Program. He grew up on a farm in the small village of Wotera in Southern Ethiopia. After completing 8th grade in his home village, he went to high school in Hawassa, the capital city of the Southern State of Ethiopia. When Desta was a Junior in high school, he had an opportunity to go Signal Mountain High School in Chattanooga as an exchange student through the Cherokee Gives Back Education program, being one of 21 students selected from Ethiopian high schools to participate in the program. He also co-founded a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) in Ethiopia that supports high school students from poor families by offering tutorial classes, collaborates with other local and International NGOs to empower women, creates job opportunities for youth and creates awareness about HIV/AIDS in a rural Ethiopia. The organization also works with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to protect environmental degradation by planting trees. In addition, with his former host High School and family, he raises money to build water wells, classrooms and buy books for schools in his home village through 'Walk for Wotera' and 'Water for Wotera' events.
Under the College Scholars Program, Desta is combining courses from the Chemistry, Biochemistry and Microbiology Departments to study the molecular nature of diseases for future career as a medicinal Chemist. For the past two years, Desta has been working with Dr. Craig Barnes in Chemistry Department to study "Controlled Formation of Silicate Monolayers on Silicon Wafers." He also started working with Dr. Nitin Jain on the project titled " Preparation, Purification and Characterization of Cytochrome P450 Proteins" this Spring in Biochemistry Department. In addition, Desta works as a resident assistant, participated as a teaching assistant for Governors School of Sciences and Engineering in Chemistry and involved in various organizations on campus. He is cofounder and President of Ethiopian and Eritrean Students Association at the University of Tennessee.