As an immigrant and student, Carroll senior learned lasting lessons about helping others
May 14, 2017
At Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, Wanofe Mideksa of the class of 2017 is known for serving others.
“There is rarely an event at Carroll where Wanofe is not there helping out,” said Beth Blaufuss, the president of the Archdiocese of Washington-sponsored school.
About seven years ago, Mideksa’s family immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia, and she said that experience shaped her commitment to helping people whenever she can.
“When I first came to America, everything was new,” she said, noting that she had to learn English, which is much different than the Amharic language that she spoke. And in a new country, people welcomed her family, helping even with simple things, like giving them directions to places they needed to go.
“People were there to help me. I take that in my heart and try to help others,” she said.
Mideksa, who is 18, knows firsthand the immigrant experience of seeking a new and better life in another country, and the importance of working hard to get a good education and succeed in life, and also the everyday challenges faced by newcomers. Her family, who are Orthodox Christians, includes her father Dabesa, who works in maintenance at the Washington Hebrew Congregation; her mother Demekech who is a homemaker; and two younger sisters also attending Archbishop Carroll, Herani and Gifti.
As a Carroll student, Wanofe Mideksa has logged 300 service hours, including with the school’s Thanksgiving Food Drive, where she joined classmates in collecting, packing and delivering food to people’s homes.
“All of us are here to help one another,” she said, praising the kindness and giving spirit of the teachers and students. “…The Carroll community is like a family to me. Everybody is there to help you with anything,” she added, noting the personal attention that her English teachers have given her, helping her with essays in her new language.
Speaking of her fellow students, she said, “Each of us wants to be a leader, to help make the school better.”
Her volunteer activities include assisting students with homework at St. Augustine School in Washington, where she especially likes helping prekindergarten and first graders with their math work. She is a graduate of that school, and said, “I’m going back to help students because my teachers (there) used to help me.”
Mideksa also volunteers with the Thrive DC program, serving breakfast to the homeless. At Carroll, she has participated in the ambassador program, helping middle school students on days when they shadow at the high school, and she served as a peer minister at the school and helped with the readings at Masses there.
At Carroll, she is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and served as treasurer of the senior class. Mideksa also played volleyball at the school, and took part in its robotics club, where students build and code robots.
In the school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program, her classes included IB math and chemistry, and Internet technology in a global society. Her favorite classes there were chemistry and math, she said, adding, “I like solving problems.”
This fall, Mideksa will attend American University in Washington on a scholarship, and will be part of the first generation of her family to go to college. She praised the support and encouragement of her parents. “They want the best for me and also (for me) to be a better and better student. They like me helping the community,” she said.
At American University, Mideksa plans to major in biochemistry and minor in Internet technology. Inspired by the eye doctor who helped her with her vision when she came to the United States, she hopes to become an ophthalmologist some day and help others with their eyesight.
Blaufuss praised Mideksa for exemplifying the community spirit of Archbishop Carroll High School. “She has an unstoppable work ethic combined with relentless cheerfulness and an instinct to serve,” said the school’s president.
For Mideksa, what she learned about giving from the people who reached out to her as an immigrant and then at her schools will be lessons she will carry with her on to college and the working world. “I have a passion for helping others. I just like to help,” she said, smiling.
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