Leadership, competition, a love of puzzles and her family drive WHS student to excel
After graduating from both WHS and Minnesota West, Gebremedhin will head to the University of San Francisco in California, where she intends to major in computer science.
WORTHINGTON — Fuelled by a competitive spirit and a love of puzzles, Worthington High School senior Adiyam Gebremedhin has a history of student leadership and a future full of opportunities ahead of her.
After graduating from both WHS and Minnesota West Community & Technical College, she will head to the University of San Francisco in California, where she intends to major in computer science.
Gebremedhin isn’t certain where that will lead her as far as careers go, as there are so many different fields computer science funnels into, such as game design, but the school’s brochure for its internship program grabbed her attention. The University of San Francisco sends many of its computer science students to intern at companies like Apple and Tesla.
The desire to be near family also informed Gebremedhin’s choice of schools. She was born and raised in Worthington, and her parents, Helen Araya and Tewelde Gebremedhin, live in town, but her extended family is out west. She went there during Christmas break, liked it, quickly applied and earned a good scholarship.
“I feel like the whole area has just a bunch of opportunity — you can’t lose, really, out there,” she said.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy decision for Gebremedhin, as so many subjects came naturally to her that she had a very wide range of interests and abilities. She tried to force herself to be more interested in medical fields, which didn’t really work, and then decided that since numbers, math and computers seemed simple to her, she’d start out as a computer science major.
“I’m open to switching,” she said. “That’s pretty normal for students to do, so I’m just going to kind of see what it’s like.”
She’s taking a computer applications course at Minnesota West, but her favorite class in high school was likely video game design, in which students got to create their own games at the end of the course.
Gebremedhin loves puzzles, especially logic and word games such as Sudoku and Wordle, and said that if she ends up going into video game design, she’d probably focus on puzzle games.
Extracurriculars and extra curriculum
Avid readers of the Globe have seen Gebremedhin before, as she is involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, often in leadership roles. For example, she’s been in the student council since her freshman year, and currently serves as a student representative for the senior class.
She’s been in the National Honor Society since her junior year and now serves as its vice president. She’s the vice president of the senior class and has helped plan graduation events and ceremonies, including the car parade.
She’s also been involved in sports, and played basketball in her freshman and sophomore years, as well as volleyball and track throughout her high school career.
Track is the sport she’s most passionate about, but after COVID-19 wreaked havoc on school activities, Gebremedhin has found she’s not the same runner that she used to be and her times have increased.
Rather than viewing that as an obstacle, though, it’s given her a concrete goal to strive toward, and now Gebremedhin finds track even more fun than it used to be.
She has also been in band since fifth grade, and plays the alto saxophone. This year, she’s a section leader.
“Band is the best part of high school, I think,” Gebremedhin said.
Outside of school, she works at Walmart, where her love of competition has helped her enjoy her job in the online grocery pickup division. When online orders come in, her team picks them out and brings them out to cars, using a tool that times each picker, meaning that each assignment is a little like a race.
She’s a member of the Orthodox Christian church and has spent significant time volunteering in many different community roles, helping people register to vote, phone banking, door-knocking and encouraging people to vote for a recent school referendum.
“We were so happy to see it pass,” Gebremedhin recalled.
She is a member of Dynamic, through the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, and has volunteered through that group too. She has especially enjoyed serving at The Banquet, a nonprofit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, because the students get to sit with and listen to the homeless people who go there for food.
Gebremedhin is a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option student, and has found the flexibility of that schedule preferable to being in regular high school. Because she has band every day at school and participates in so many extracurriculars, she hasn’t missed out on too many social opportunities, either.
The workload for the college courses is higher, and they also require significant self-motivation in comparison to high school classes, Gebremedhin said, and as a senior, finding that motivation can be challenging.
This year, she’s been doing her homework in the morning, goes to band and eats lunch at WHS and then stays there to study and do homework with other PSEO students.
As a PSEO student, Gebremedhin will graduate from Minnesota West on Friday, and from Worthington High School on May 27.
It will be a major event for her and her family, as people with an Eritrean cultural background place a high value on graduation and avidly celebrate the achievements of their graduates.
“It might be more important than your wedding day,” Gebremedhin explained. “They take it very seriously.”
All of her family members will fly in for her graduation party in July, which will be especially important because COVID-19 derailed the celebrations for Gebremedhin’s older brother, Abel Tewelde, who graduated in 2020.
“I just want everyone in my family to be happy like they were going to be for my brother’s graduation,” Gebremedhin said. “I’m excited to make all my friends dance. If they’re coming, they have to dance.”
Her two little sisters have some lengths to go before they graduate — Abigail Gebremedhin is in seventh grade and Azaher Tewelde is in kindergarten.