People tend to gravitate to Nesuwo Mavindidze. His quiet, humble demeanor makes him approachable, and his big smile lets you know right away that he's the kind of friend you want on your side.
"Nesuwo is one of the most caring and friendly students I have ever taught," said English Educator Mike Sheehan. "His welcoming attitude and support for other students always made him a welcomed presence in the room."
Not only does Nesuwo have a great personality, Sheehan said he's known for his attention to detail, impeccable work ethic, and relentless determination.
Nesuwo has shown that determination over and over again. In middle school, when he started feeling extreme fatigue, he knew something wasn't right. An unexpected trip to the hospital revealed he has type 1 diabetes.
"They said I should have been in a coma; they figured it out just in time before things got too bad," he said.
The diagnosis was shocking at first.
"I was confused because I was pretty healthy and had good eating habits, but the nurse explained that type 1 diabetes is more about genetics."
While Nesuwo got used to checking his blood sugar levels and injecting himself with insulin, his parents began looking for a new school with a full-time nurse.He transitioned to St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School for eighth grade, and that's where he first learned about Cardinal Gibbons.
"There have been a lot of changes, but I'm grateful for the way it all worked out," Nesuwo said.
Nesuwo has an insulin pump now, so the days of frequent injections are behind him, but the grit he showed while learning to deal with his diagnosis has served him well.
This year, he helped lead the soccer team to a state championship title after near wins his sophomore and junior years.
"It was really emotional and exciting to finally win as a senior," he said. "We didn't even know if we would have a season for a while."
With the soccer season shifting to spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nesuwo also had to juggle his basketball schedule — a first since the two sports are typically played during different seasons.
"It has been great watching him develop in both his academic work and athletic endeavors the last few years; he will be missed in the hallways of Cardinal Gibbons," Sheehan said.
Nesuwo spent most of his senior year Zoom, so he's looking forward to returning to in-person classes at Methodist University, where he'll follow in his father's footsteps and study information technology. A scholarship recipient, he'll play both soccer and basketball at the university.
Looking back, English Educator Nicole Herche said she can't help but smile when she remembers Nesuwo's time in her class freshman year.
"He is one of those students who always showed up with the intention to learn and get the most out of each day," she said. "It's not just that Nesuwo is motivated, joy-filled, and humble, but that those around him feed off of his positive energy and are encouraged to bring their best as well."