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Strategic Plan: Stories that Inspire

Lidya Wolde '21: The Third Time's a Charm

Lidya Wolde ’21 arrived in Denver on July 17, 2017—her 14th birthday—after a long journey. Four hours from Ethiopia to Qatar, 13 more to New York, and finally, another four hours to Denver. Back then, Wolde boarded three flights before she reached her destination. So, it’s no surprise she had the resilience to persist until she finally found her home at Regis Jesuit—her third high school in as many years.
Now, as Wolde takes her RJ diploma to Washington University in St. Louis on a full scholarship, she looks back with gratitude for the opportunities she received at Regis Jesuit, including financial aid from donors who believed she was a worthy investment. She’s also indebted to Alivian Jorgensen, Assistant Director of Admissions, who helped her twice navigate the application process and ultimately become a straight-A student with a passion for math and for service. 

“I love helping other people,” said Wolde, who emigrated to Denver with her mother, father and three siblings. “Being kind doesn’t cost any pennies.” Her younger sister, Christina '24, is also a Regis Jesuit student thanks to financial aid. 

Not long after the Wolde family settled in Aurora, Lidya’s father became extremely ill with Hepatitis B. This meant relocating to Denver, where health care would be more accessible but also meant Lidya would have to leave the Lotus School for Excellence, a small charter school serving a global population. At Lotus, she excelled in honors classes, but still, she was declined the first time she applied to Regis Jesuit. The official deadline had passed, and the class was already fully enrolled.

“But Ms. Jorgensen encouraged me to keep in touch and to try again the following year,” said Wolde. So as soon as she had her first-semester sophomore transcript from Denver East, she sent it in. It showed all As in Algebra II Honors, Honors Chemistry, AP World History and English II Honors. She also was taking Spanish III and a computer class.

Jorgensen recalls: “Lidya’s self-advocacy and maturity stood out in her first phone call to the Admissions Office. Over the course of several conversations, it was obvious Lidya was special and will be a force of good in our world. She was disappointed with the first decision, but she embraced it with grace and grit. She is just the perfect combination of those two words. Add in brilliance and you have quite the full package.” 

Wolde was thrilled to be accepted and become among the one in three students to receive financial aid. She said, “The mission is what drew me to Regis. I knew about the school from a neighbor who also was Ethiopian and had a son who had graduated. Plus, I was committed to doing service.”

A critical part of Inspire & Ignite 2025, Regis Jesuit’s Strategic Plan for Access, Innovation and Excellence, is increasing the number of students who receive aid and expanding the diversity of the student body.

Wolde’s first experience was the Kairos Retreat in September. “I can’t say exactly what we did there, but I experienced for the first time what it’s like to learn to love yourself and other people. I don’t usually talk about myself deeply, and I think it was new to others as well. It was lovely to get to know the girls.” 

Later, encouraged by her new friends, she joined Key Club, Girls Up and the Diversity Action Group (DAG), where she focused on service, empowering girls and issues of race that are “really important in the world and at Regis.” She spent her two-week junior Service Project at Samaritan House in Denver, where she served meals, accepted donations, did laundry, helped in the office and got to know residents by talking to them whenever she could. Senior year has gone quickly, and she’s now looking ahead to college, where she’ll major in math and computer science.

When Wolde looks back on her time at Regis Jesuit, she says she found a loving community where, even as a transfer student, she didn’t have to struggle to make friends. “My biggest struggle was after my dad got sick, but I’ve been lucky to make friends easily and do well in school. Kindness is the way to win the world. It’s what I’m living for.”
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