Alumni Update: Olivia Thero LCHS '19

Alumni Update: Olivia Thero LCHS '19
Posted on 01/10/2020
Olivia TheroShe built her own dam, and gets to blow things up. College is exhilarating for Olivia Thero LCHS ’19 who’s now igniting her second semester at Colorado School of Mines. “I’m in love with Mines,” she declared.

The freshman civil-engineering major is also holding down a minor in explosives. “I like hard science. I like labs,” she explained. “You get to blow stuff up – put the lab goggles on and watch something blow up. It’s fun! It’s awesome!”

Eventually, Olivia wants to build bridges and tunnels. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was applying to college, but through that process, I figured it out,” she said. Thanks to the help of LCHS College Counselor Mrs. Diane Campbell, Olivia’s proud to say she believes she’s on the right academic path.

“(Mrs. Campbell) totally helped me find the right college, and the right major,” Olivia said. “I love it. I’m starting to really, really like what I’m doing. It’s just perfect.”

In her first semester on the Golden, Colorado campus, Olivia devoured courses in Earth & Environmental Sciences, Chemistry 1, calculus, and a design class where she got to build her own dam. Starting this week, she’s launching into the next phase of physics, Chemistry 2, Calculus 2, and engineering ethics.

She’s found the academic mother lode carrying a 3.8 GPA through first-year “washout” classes typical of highly selective engineering schools. “You can tell there are waves of students who are headed out just because they can’t keep up with the work,” she said. “Either the school’s just not a good fit, and they realized too late; or, it’s just really competitive.”

She’s humble, saying she’s grateful for some of the academic advantages acquired at her high-school alma mater. “Liberty did a really good job of teaching me how to study,” she explained. “I know how to keep my nose to the grindstone, go to the library, and just learn how to do things. That was really good.”

Knowing to hang out with the right people is a crucial advantage, too. “I’ve made really great friends (at Mines). Having support from the people I’ve met there helps,” she said. “My sorority has test banks, study resources, and tutors.”

It helps that the campus culture at Mines is invigorating. “There’s an atmosphere – it’s a community where we all realize we’re in this together,” she said. The new setting has a familiar feel.

“Ninth hour (at LCHS) really taught me how to go to teachers and ask them for help, how to be persistent. I think it’s just like college office hours. You learn how to go to teachers, how to talk to them, how to present yourself in a way that’s valuable. You become friends with them. It really helps you through the process of learning. You make friendships with faculty, and they’re really willing to help you. If you make relationships with them,” Olivia remarked, “you have the best support.”

Perhaps the most important thing learned at Liberty, she said, is “The grit – just learning to dig down deep and just…doing it; realizing you have deadlines coming up, and learning how to manage them.” So, what inspired such determination?

“I love Lovely,” Olivia said of LCHS principal and pre-calculus instructor Mr. Torgun Lovely. “I miss him. He taught me to love math.” Thinking back on her days in Lovely’s classroom, she reflected, “He loves math, and he exudes this positive energy. I remember just sitting in class and thinking ‘I should be like that.’ He’s a big part of why I chose what I want to do. He’s a great teacher.”

Olivia also misses LCHS Spanish instructor Mrs. Paulina Deitrick. “I love her; and I love Mrs. Campbell, too. I Snapchat with her all the time about how things are going in college.”

Hindsight supplies clarity, and Olivia wants current Liberty students to know what she now knows about both the value of our charter school, and the payoff of perseverance. She promises, the strenuous journey through high school is a liberating key to college success.

“I feel like I have a lot more free time in college. You do really have to put your nose to the grindstone,” Olivia advised. “I’ve seen some people who don’t show up for class, and you just need to show the persistence to go for your main thing. You have to show up. You get to figure out exactly what you want to do, and you meet some people who are doing the things you really love right along with you.”

For Olivia, fortitude is turning out to be a powerful virtue. “I look back and think fondly on my education at Liberty. It’s hard, but you come out stronger because of it. I feel really capable at Mines – capable of doing anything because I know that I know how to get through this.”

When it comes to all Liberty students, Olivia explodes with similar confidence: “You can do it!”

Go Orediggers!