Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mawi Asgedom  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1976 in Adi Wahla, Ethiopia

-- Mawi's Mental Karate Website --
-- Website --
-- Mawi Asgedom on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Asgedom grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mawi Asgedom was born Selamawi Haileab Asgedom. He is an author and a successful inspirational speaker for students, community groups, and businesses.Mawi was a refugee of Ethiopian. For about two years of his childhood, he was separated from his father and had to flee to Sudan to avoid the war in Ethiopia. Mawi was seven years old when he and his family arrived in the U.S. in 1983, sponsored by World Relief. They had spent the previous three years in a refugee camp in Sudan. He grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Illinois. He graduated with top honors from Harvard University, receiving a degree in American history and giving the commencement address at his graduation in 1999. Since graduating from Harvard, Mawi has dedicated himself to uplifting teenagers. He is the bestselling author of ''Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard'' and ''The Code: The 5 Secrets of Teen Success''.He is a very popular speaking guest at middle and high schools. He has spoken to over 500,000 students in more than thirty states. He has trained educators at The Harvard School of Education, The Midwest Principal's Center and many teaching conferences. Mawi is also the founder of ''Mental Karate'', an organization that helps youth take positive action.Oprah Winfrey named her interview of Mr. Asgedom as one of her 20 Unforgettable Moments in October 2005.He has developed a suite of online student courses to increase student efficacy and achievement.He has created a professional development program for educators to put Growth Mindset into action to inspire student achievement called Powerful Educator.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard
ISBN: 0316826200

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2002

Read the remarkable true story of a young boy's journey from civil war in east Africa to a refugee camp in Sudan, to a childhood on welfare in an affluent American suburb, and eventually to a full-tuition scholarship at Harvard University.

Following his father's advice to "treat all people-even the most unsightly beetles-as though they were angels sent from heaven," Mawi overcomes the challenges of language barriers, cultural differences, racial prejudice, and financial disadvantage to build a fulfilling, successful life for himself in his new home.

Of Beetles and Angels is at once a harrowing survival story and a compelling examination of the refugee experience. With hundreds of thousands of copies sold since its initial publication, and as a frequent selection as one book/one school/one community reads, this unforgettable memoir continues to touch and inspire readers. This special expanded fifteenth anniversary edition includes a new introduction and afterword from the author, a discussion guide, and more.

The Code: The Five Secrets of Teen Success
ISBN: 0316736899

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2003

Overcoming a childhood beset by civil war in East Africa and living on welfare in Chicago, the author grew up to attend Harvard on scholarship. Asgedom shares his experiences, insights, and five proven secrets that will help teens succeed in high school and beyond.

Win the Inner Battle, The Ultimate Teen Leadership Journal
ISBN: 0974390186

Mawi Asgedom. 2003

By journaling on a regular basis, students apply Mawi Asegdom's principles to their own lives as they learn to set a personal code to live by. With each journal entry, they measure their progress and growth.

Nothing Is Impossible: Dozens Of Inspiring Stories, The Best Strategies For Teen Success
ISBN: 0974390119

Mawi Inc. 2005

Uses inspiring stories to advise teenagers on how to achieve personal success and fulfillment.

The Success GPA: You are more than Your Grades and Test Scores
ISBN: 0974390151

Mawi, Incorporated. 2011

Drawing on Mawi’s work with more than a million students, The Success GPA depicts nine key success strategies to help high school students from all backgrounds transform their academic, career, and life opportunities. Students learn about key leadership skills ranging from time management and service to public speaking and personality types, as the book goes beyond test prep and grades to reveal hidden drivers of opportunity. The Success GPA serves as a great tool for any educator hoping to build character and leadership in their students.

The Third Harmony
ISBN: 0974390135

Mawi Books. 2011

A terrible accident nearly kills two orphans named Twid and Him Too. Within days, strange soldiers surround the orphans' village and start asking about the accident. To avoid certain death, Twid and Him Too flee their village, only to find themselves embroiled in a centuries-old battle between forces of unimagined power.

To save themselves, and the world, Twid and Him Too must unlock the mystery of the legendary powers known as The Harmonies.But their enemies pursue them at every turn, and the only place for answers is deep within an impregnable stronghold. The Third Harmony is a fast-paced, wild adventure story that will captivate you and challenge you to unlock your own power of heroism.

The 5 Powers of an Educator
ISBN: 0986077208

Mawi Learning. 2014

As an educator or parent, you have tremendous power to inspire students. In The Five Powers of an Educator, Mawi Asgedom reminds you of your power and gives you practical methods you can use immediately, based on his work with over 1,000,000 students at more than 1,000 schools. You will learn how to leverage the latest research on mindset, grit, executive function, and non-cognitive skills to profoundly impact the youth in your life.


Body of Work

  • Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 2006
  • Of Beetles and Angels

  • 2013 ILLINOIS READS Book

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    , contact via


    US Postal Service

    Mawi, Inc PO Box 679 Elmhurst, IL 60126