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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Dzokerayi Minya, founder of TESE Foundation, wins 2022 Ruby Award

TESE foundation works to increase access to education

By SHRADDHA JHINGAN city@theaggie.org


Dzokerayi Minya, the founder of TESE Foundation, won the 2022 Ruby Award. The Ruby Award was given by the organization Soroptimist International Davis. 

According to its website, “Soroptimist International is a global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls.” Soroptimist International was founded by Violet Richardson in 1921 in Oakland, CA. Richardson also came up with the phrase “service club.”

Eda Chen, a board member of Soroptimist International Davis, explained in a video the goals of the organization. Chen also highlighted Soroptimist International’s core values. 

“We are Soroptimist International Davis and our mission is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading social and economic empowerment,” Chen said. “Our name Soroptimist means best for women and though we may be known locally for a beer booth at the Davis Farmers Market, our organization makes a big impact internationally.”

Chen highlighted that the organization has clubs in 120 countries across the world, and they have “the core values of gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.”

The Ruby Award acknowledges women who made significant contributions to the lives of girls and women, “through professional or personal efforts.” The nomination for the 2022 Ruby Award was due on Feb. 15 and consisted of a form and a statement of a maximum of 750 words describing the reasons why the nominee should get the award. 

This year’s winner, Dzokerayi Minya, who lives in Davis, is involved in the community in multiple ways. Alongside running an organization called TESE Foundation, participates in the Yolo Committee for Diverse and Inclusive Elections, and is the founder of Zim Cuisine, with her husband. 

According to its description, TESE Foundation is working to help increase access to education to communities that are underrepresented. Though outreach efforts generally occur in Yolo County, the organization has also collaborated with students in the Bay Area, African countries, Sacramento County and Solano County. 

“The TESE Foundation arose from the urgency to provide quality and relevant education to underrepresented communities while providing career opportunities that BIPOC teens were not privy to,” the description reads. “Every year, many students drop out of school because they do not have the mentorship and financial means to continue with their education.”

The description also highlights the effect of the pandemic on students from underrepresented communities, including the fact that students of color and students from lower-income families may be impacted by access to technology, classes and information. Food insecurity also poses a problem, and thus the description includes things such as food insecurity, and contains a list of items that can be donated or will be helpful.

“After a decade of working with underprivileged youth, we realize the path to their success is supporting the whole family so that the youth’s needs are met,” the description reads. “For example, we cannot provide a path to education when there is dire food insecurity. When tackling food insecurity, we must focus on the entire family.”

In an interview, Minya further described the TESE foundation, including the fact that it is volunteer-driven. 

“It’s 100% volunteer driven and the planning team takes hours and hours,” Minya said. “It’s just an amazing amazing thing to see and so my goal for five years from now — I want to see all these students in college. I don’t want them to end in high school because high school is just the beginning. What about college? What about post-grad?”

Minya added that she would like to see the students “enjoying the life and really making an impact,” instead of in places where they had limited access to water. 

Ultimately, the work that Minya and the organization are doing will help increase access to education and other opportunities for underrepresented communities.

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org


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