'I’ve learned from RISE to never say never'

Meet RISE Scholar Helen Girma.

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Helen Girma, a summer 2022 RISE scholar.
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Over the summer, Mayo Clinic and the Rochester branch of the NAACP held a first-of-its-kind collaboration with the RISE High and RISE Up programs to connect successful mentors with Black and underrepresented high school and college students with potential. More than 175 students vied for the 40 available spots. The four-week programs provided the RISE scholars opportunities to explore careers in healthcare and business, while also learning leadership and public speaking skills. Helen Girma earned one of the coveted spots in the RISE program and shared that experience.

Tell us about you and your family.

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I am the oldest of three children in my family. I have two younger brothers, ages 13 and 11. Both of my parents work for Mayo Clinic. We have lived in Rochester for most of my life. Our ethnicity is Ethiopian and we love celebrating our culture. I am a junior at Mayo High School. I am involved in many activities at Mayo High School including Key Club, Student Government, Honors Society, and Equity Team. I love being a part of the school community. I enjoy attending any Mayo games, playing sand volleyball, and taking Yoga classes in my free time.

How did you find out about the RISE program?

Mrs. Carrie Ekert at Mayo High School called me down to her office and told me about this opportunity that a teacher recommended me for. I’m extremely grateful to Senora Walters and Mrs. Alexander for writing me letters of recommendation.


What was most memorable about the RISE experience?

The most memorable thing about the RISE experience is Raw Talk with Rawhi and learning about Resiliency from Dr. Amit Sood. We were constantly asked to utilize the power of reflection throughout the program. Through Raw Talk with our beloved leader Rawhi, we learned to express our feelings and comments fully. Reflecting on our shared experiences brought us closer together. Another memorable experience of the RISE program was conversations with Dr. Amit Sood. He taught us how to practice resiliency with useful tools that I for one will continue to use.

RISE Up is a four-week program that provides employment preparation for post-secondary education students.

What does participating in the program mean to you?

Participating in the program was an incredible opportunity and I will forever cherish the connections I made with the people I met.

Would you recommend the program to others? Why or why not?

I would recommend this program to others who are looking to find opportunities for success. It’s a well-rounded program that allows you to experience incredible things.

What do you plan to pursue for a career?

I am very interested in psychology. Perhaps a career as a child psychiatrist.


What do you like most about Rochester? Least?

I like that Rochester is easy to travel around and filled with great people. The thing I like least is that it gets insanely cold here.

Do you plan to remain in Rochester after college? Why or why not?

One thing I’ve learned from RISE is to never say never. Although I don’t envision my life here after college right now, that might change later on.

What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? 

Most people are surprised to learn I went to private school from Kindergarten to 8th grade. My experience there along with my parents are both responsible for many of my characteristics in terms of work ethic and determination.


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