The Oracle

Oracle Person of the Year: Nathanael Mengistie

Nathnanael+Mengistie+holds+a+certificate+honoring+him+and+poses+for+a+photo+with+Oracle+advisor+Jenifer+Beach+at+the+Person+of+the+Year+ceremony.+
Nathnanael Mengistie holds a certificate honoring him and poses for a photo with Oracle advisor Jenifer Beach at the Person of the Year ceremony.

Nathnanael Mengistie holds a certificate honoring him and poses for a photo with Oracle advisor Jenifer Beach at the Person of the Year ceremony.

Helen Heaton

Helen Heaton

Nathnanael Mengistie holds a certificate honoring him and poses for a photo with Oracle advisor Jenifer Beach at the Person of the Year ceremony.

Helen Heaton, Managing Editor

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Every year, the staff of The Oracle votes: which senior should be named “Person of the Year”? The award is meant to acknowledge a Spartan who truly embodies the principles of service and community engagement. This year, the position goes to senior Nathnael Mengistie.
Mengistie moved to WS last year from Ethiopia. While he has only been a Spartan for two years, he is deeply involved in the community, participating in numerous extracurricular activities, including Science Olympiad, the academic quiz team, and four honor societies.
“I actually wanted to get involved in honor societies because I really wanted to tutor students…. I’ve had a lot of experience with tutoring, and I think it’s a great way to meet people, trying to make friends,” said Mengistie. “I think it was a great experience.”
His love of tutoring was established before he came to the US, at his school in Ethiopia.
“I used to volunteer in Ethiopia in terms of helping students in public schools. I had established a club called the Visionaries Program, which helps students with families who have financial difficulties to attend school, because most of them really drop out when they start high school, even middle school,” said Mengistie. “I tutored them and then I held [fundraisers] to give money to their parents so that they could stay in school.”
Mengistie’s actions are merely part of his bigger dream: to help uplift developing countries worldwide.
“[Ethiopia] is a less developed country, and it’s been my dream to really improve health and education in Ethiopia, but also in…other developing countries,” said Mengistie.
Mengistie has applied his belief in the power of education to his own life—although last year, he was forbidden to take AP classes as counselors wanted him to focus on his transition to a new school system.
“I was very mad because I knew that I could do it. I really wanted to challenge myself,” said Mengistie.
This year, he is in four AP classes, reflecting a passion for education that is matched only by his passion for public health.
“I really want to fight for health equity around the world and try to promote access to healthcare for…people around the world,” said Mengistie. He hopes to major in public health in college and already has plans to volunteer in that field.

“This year, I’m trying to volunteer at an organization in Washington DC called HIPS [Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive] that helps sex workers to help with health care issues and to go back to school….I’ll probably work at a call center in Washington,” said Mengistie.
This selfless volunteering is a prime example of why The Oracle members believe Mengistie is truly worthy of being called “Person of the Year.”
However, The Oracle is not the only organization that recognizes his dedication. Mengistie recently received a prestigious Gates Scholarship, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Twenty thousand, seven hundred students all over America applied for the scholarship, and only 300 students got it. It’s a full tuition scholarship, and they’re going to cover everything for four years. It’s a tremendous opportunity, not only in terms of financial aid and scholarships, but also in terms of providing me with internships and…job opportunities,” said Mengistie. “I think that it’s a tremendous idea, and in the future, hopefully I might be able to work with the Gates Foundation. It’s doing a lot of work in Africa trying to work with numerous hospitals and schools to improve education and health care. I think it’s a great opportunity, and I’m very grateful for that.”
Mengistie will put his scholarship good use, as he will attend Princeton University in the fall.
“I decided to attend Princeton [because] it’s been a dream of mine for a long time, but I always thought that it was a long shot,” said Mengistie, “but I am very happy that I got in.”
French teacher Rhonda Trupiano is one of the many Spartans pleased for Mengistie’s success. (Mengistie is also fluent in French, having attended French-language schools for thirteen years.)
“Nathnael is incredibly bright, he is personable, he is a critical thinker, he is passionate, and he is incredibly diligent,” said Trupiano. “He is by far one of the best students I have ever taught in my entire twelve-year career.”

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