Class of 2019 Vice President: Helen Eshetu

For a timid freshman, her cheeky campaign slogan, “just bleep it and vote for me,” was an uncharacteristic departure from Helen Eshetu’s reserved nature. Though her platform encouraged her fellow classmates to throw caution to the wind and cast a ballot in her favor, Eshetu, who has acted as the Class of 2019’s vice president for all four years of high school, has proved to be a cautious, personable and attentive leader. 

Eshetu recognizes that class leadership and “being in the forefront of the class and making these key decisions really helped [her]” become a more uninhibited self. Though she had never been reserved or shy, leadership, and the socialization that came along with it, forced her to reach out to her classmates. 

Fellow class officer Santiago Portillo notes that Eshetu is “very outgoing in a not overwhelming way,” a quality that has been an asset to the leadership body as a whole during all four years. “She always has input that has meaning,” says Portillo, who has witnessed Eshetu’s growth first-hand through their close friendship and class leadership. 

Portillo and Eshetu are in agreement when they say that the dynamic of the class officers is very fluid. As vice president, Eshetu takes notes during meetings and assists President Matt Farias in making a number of decisions but, ultimately, officers “don’t really have designated roles, [they] just support one another,” a dynamic that is successful because “[they] are all friends,” she says. 

Her role within class leadership withstood the tests of Junior Varieties (JVs) in 2018 and prom planning, which was finalized just recently. JVs proved to be a “difficult but interesting” experience because the unforgiving nature of the two-month operation made her “really self conscious about what she could bring to the table.” During the weeks leading up to the event, the class officers stopped “having so much fun and went into business mode,” says Eshetu, who adds that “there was a lot of crying but it eventually paid off.” 

During the preparation stages of both events, Eshetu acknowledges that she relied heavily on class advisor Rebecca Corcoran, who also taught Eshetu in class both her freshman and junior years. Conceding that ““[she is] not prepared but [is] trying [her] hardest to prepare others,” Eshetu adds that “Corcoran has been pulling a heavy hand” and “is extremely reliable,” not only as a teacher, but as a friend. 

Eshetu states that Corcoran’s “openness is so admirable” and her “willing[ness] to create friendships with any student” reflects in her ability to be “not judgemental at all.” Corcoran, in turn, says that “watching [the officers] grow has been a privilege for [her] as an educator.” 

Other teachers, of course, have also affected Eshetu’s trajectory in high school, including history teacher Gregory Hurley and former history teacher Damian Aufiero. Despite Aufiero’s recent departure from Malden High, Eshetu remembers him as someone who “encouraged [her] to look into history” and gave her the “sense of direction [she] needed early on.” 

Both Hurley and Aufiero were “such impactful figures” says Eshetu, and her ultimate goal is “to be that to someone else.” 

Eshetu, who has been involved with Technovation, Feminism Club, National Honor Society and Speech and Debate, will be attending University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall, majoring in Afro Studies, the intersection between her interest in social justice and political science as well as her identity as a black woman. 

Eshetu, who attended a trip to Washington DC with the Malden Youth Civics Council and the Malden Teen Enrichment Center in April, says that civics and politics will always be “a part of [her]” because both are “riveting and controversial and fun.”

“Growing up in a household of women has made [her] more sensitive to women’s and minorities’ issues,” says Eshetu, adding that “learning more about [Afro studies] benefits [her] and [her] family.” Her fascination with film has also influenced her vocational decision as she aspires to write screenplays and produce movies that “give black people more visibility through the media.” 

Eshetu mentions that, ultimately, “[she] want[s] to exert [herself] academically but also want[s] to enjoy the college experience and make it enjoyable for the people around [her],” a goal that senior Sedrah Mashhour believes is feasible for Eshetu, who “took [Mashhour] under her wing” immediately after meeting her. 

Mashhour, a transfer student from Milton High School in Georgia, mentions that, on her first day of school, she was “terrified,” especially as she was “dropped off with [Eshetu] with no prior introduction” but found that she had, in fact, “struck gold.” Mashhour, who plans to dorm with Eshetu in college, is thankful that their “friendship blossomed from there.” 

As formative as Malden and her experience at Malden High School have been, Eshetu “looks forward to the future and anticipates great things to come.” 

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