May 30 2023
Fitihawi Gebremeskel arrived in the U.S. in August of 2014 from Eritrea accompanied by his mother and younger brother. They landed in Columbus, Ohio, where they stayed for 2 months before moving to Harrisonburg. Fitihawi enrolled at Harrisonburg High School and graduated in 2018. Around the end of his high school career, he got a job in the production team at Shenandoah Valley Organics - Farmer Focus, an organic poultry plant. He worked at Farmer Focus throughout high school and while he took classes at Blue Ridge Community College, where Fitihawi studied mechanics. Although, at a point during college, he decided to pursue his career instead. “I just fell in love with the job... It's all about people. Pretty much, my job is to change people. They [new hires] come in, and they don't know anything. So I train them to do their job. And then all you have to do is just stay back and just watch them do it” Fitihawi said. After a while of working in production, Fitihawi decided to switch to the shipping department. In 2016 he became a Shipping Lead at Farmer Focus, and he was eventually promoted to Shipping and Receiving Supervisor in August of 2021, which is his current position.
This past May, Fitihawi and his family obtained their U.S. citizenship. Although Fitihawi has achieved so much in the years he’s been in the U.S., it didn’t come easy. He advised, “Always try to be consistent in everything you do. Just do it from your heart and enjoy it, believe it, and stand behind it.” In success, Fitihawi believes that determination is key. “There is one thing that I know, that if you keep trying, You may see [results] in seven years, maybe five years, maybe 10 years” he said.
Throughout his journey, one of the biggest adjustments for Fitihawi was the culture. “Culture is the biggest challenge…and culture is different everywhere. You just learn how to adjust to that culture, how to identify, and it takes some time to realize, ‘it’s okay, I have to change’…You have to accept that” Fitihawi said.
As for the future, Fitihawi has goals to reach the position of Plant Manager or Vice President of Operations at Farmer Focus. As a message “to the people that are coming in like ours, I know, they're going to feel like ‘Oh, I feel like I want to go back home.’ But there's no hope there, there's nothing you can do. I just want to send the message out there that if you work hard and you take the right path, I think you can be successful” Fitihawi said.
CWS Harrisonburg is so proud of Fitihawi and his accomplishments. We look forward to seeing what he achieves next.