Daniel Geda, who graduates this year from St. Anselm’s Abbey School in Washington, came to America from his native Ethiopia when he was 15 years old. Although he changed continents and countries, one goal remained the same: getting a Catholic education.

“I was at a Catholic school back in Ethiopia, and my parents and I had seen the value of a Catholic education based on personal, spiritual, and academic growth,” Geda said. 

He added that when his father, who arrived in America before him, started looking for possible schools for Geda to attend, “one of his American friends who had looked at St. Anselm's for his own children told my father about it and as soon as he visited the school he felt like it was the right fit for me.”

Geda joined his father Wondimu here in America, but his mother Alemstehay and his brother Zaki remained behind in Ethiopia.  Sadly, his mother and brother will not be able to attend his graduation because their visa applications were rejected. 

Although challenged by not having his family together, Geda has succeeded academically at St. Anselm’s, and is among the highest ranking students there.

Geda said that “the monastic community, the teachers, staff, friends, and everybody else at St. Anselm's Abbey … have made my transition to the U.S. very smooth, (and) have welcomed me with an open arm, and have made my time at the school very valuable and memorable.”

Among the experiences for Geda was his participation in the Young Architect's Workshop program held at the Maryland-National Park and Planning Brentwood Arts Exchange Center.

“At the program, I got to learn the basics of architecture from a real-life architect with a few other students from the D.C. area,” Geda explained. “Although the program enabled me to see that the field of architecture was not for me, it was still a very valuable experience.”

Outside of the classroom at St. Anselm’s Geda has been a member of the school’s track and soccer teams. He was also a member of Cultural Student Organization, which he said “is a club that tries to promote social, political, cultural, and racial dialogue and awareness on our school campus.”

Geda also took part in the Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS). The seminar invites less than 100 rising junior high school students each year to participate in a six-week college level course on black and ethnic studies topics. The program is designed to spur interest in the history, culture and politics of people of African descent. The program is held at Cornell University and the University of Michigan.

“I was introduced to Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar by my college counselor who thought the program would be perfect for me, and it was,” Geda said.

He said that he enjoyed the seminar “that looked at African-American history and social movements through the lens of music and literature. Having immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia, I loved this discussion-based seminar, which introduced me to a very complex side of American history and life.”

In addition to what he learned by participating in the TASS seminar, Geda said he also benefited from the experience of living with 21 other students in the program. “It was really powerful and life-changing and I was able to make really good friends there that I still keep in touch with,” he said. “This is also when I fell in love with Cornell.”

In the fall, Geda will attend Cornell where “I plan on being on the pre-medicine track while majoring in biology and society, which is an interdisciplinary major.”