Confetti flies over students during the 2018 Graduate Commencement ceremony in O'Shaughnessy Stadium on May 18, 2018 in St. Paul.

Class of 2019 in the Spotlight

Congratulations to all 2019 graduates, including undergraduates, graduates, and those from Dougherty Family College! In honor of these graduates and their accomplishments, let's look back at all of the remarkable things they did while they were Tommies.


Murad Abduselam, Hannah Brodersen, and Annabelle Hamilton were named University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. They were the first St. Thomas students to become UI Fellows. 

Jenna Abrahamson, Elliott Allen, Ben Linke, Sydney Mueller, Emily Sweeney, Jessica Thomas, and Chris Razidlo described their experiences participating in a Living Learning Communities their first year, the first year LLCs were established.

Students laugh with Tommie during Homecoming Purple on the Plaza.

Students laugh with Tommie during Homecoming Purple on the Plaza.

As part of an entrepreneurship course, Jacob Mischke and Amari Ziton teamed up with engineering student Kyle Schneider to create a universal water bottle holder that can fit on beds in residence halls. Mitch Roers and Saif Ahmed also set out to solve a space problem: They created a ledge that is anchored underneath the mattress to create an easy and convenient nightstand without taking up valuable residence hall room space.

Duncan Anderson, Sunita Dharod, Abby Gieseke, Abby Heller, Rio Hindami and John Lucke shared some of their favorite things to do on the weekends, both on campus and off.

Duncan Anderson participated in the One University One Breath program, describing it as an "eye-opening experience because it allowed me to realize how simple it is to experience a sense of calm, a sense of ease, peace, and happiness, all of those positive things, just in the current moment."

Rachel Armstrong, Maggie Ericson, and David Danhauer shared their excitement for Homecoming 2017.

Connor Bair added 23 points and 10 blocked shots for St. Thomas during the first-ever basketball game at U.S. Bank Stadium. He also made the first basket in U.S. Bank Stadium history. Michael Hannon sank the first 3-pointer.

St. Thomas and UW-River Falls compete in the first-ever basketball game played at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Bisrat Bayou was awarded the 2019 Tommie Award, which recognizes achievements in scholarship, leadership and campus involvement, and represents the highest ideals of the university. He is also very involved on campus, including being the Undergraduate Student Government President; a member of the Reaching Excellence in Academics and Leadership (REAL) Program; a Student Diversity and Inclusion Services linkages mentor; a resident adviser; part of the Summit Singers; and a member of both the Black Empowerment Student Alliance and the African Nations’ Student Association.

The following students were presented with Student Leadership Scholarship Awards in 2018: Bisrat Bayou, Ashley Borland, Sadie Buckel, Sunita Dharod, Jamie Gruber, Abigail Heller, Brianna Herdering, Michelle Hirani, Fatoumata Jaiteh, Lydia Lockwood, Margaret Miller, Katherine Nickoloff, Sylvester Nwosuji, Nicholas Simek, Tim Trautman, Michelle Wise, Mark Schuweiler and Eshan Varma.

Seniors Bisrat Bayou, Maggee Becker, Aaron Cornelius, Micaela Flores, Maddie Giesen, Abby Heller, Fatoumata Jaiteh, Shonni Krengel, Anne LoCoco, Jason Ortiz, McKenna Peplinski, Jayda Pounds, Elizabeth Rubbelke, Sue Truong, Amira E. Warren-Yearby, Taylor Weeks, and Michelle Wise reflected on their time at St. Thomas and offered advice for first-year students.

A team of St. Thomas Accounting and Business students, including Francesca Bergin and Emily Rose, won the PwC Challenge case competition in 2016.

Jalen Betsinger entered the Fowler Business Concept Challenge in 2017 and won second place in the business concept division, along with a $7,500 scholarship.

Noah Brown and Solveig Rennan reflected on winning awards for Tommie Media.

Sadie Buckel and Claire Gulseth were semifinalist Fullbright Scholars this year. Both Gulseth and Buckel applied to teach English abroad in Argentina and Spain, respectively.

Simone Cazares and Maya Shelton-Davis finished third and second place, respectively, in the Social Issues Story category of the 2014-2015 Minnesota Newspaper’s Better Newspaper Contest.

Gretchen Chatt and Allie Phillips commented on their excitement during the first-ever Tommie-Johnnie game at Target Field in 2017.

A team of eight St. Thomas math students took first place at the sixth annual Math Jeopardy! competition in 2015, including Dana Connelly, Carol Mikhael and Connor Skidmore.

Mackenzie Davidge, Alli Getz, Krista Kronlokken, Alexis McHale, and Haley Foucault were part of the University of St. Thomas Dance Team winning a National Hip Hop Title in 2016 and 2017.

The Damus Board, a St. Thomas philanthropic organization that annually works with students to award donations to local nonprofits, included seniors Matthew Deakin, Kate Gallagher, Abbie Levang, Lauren Moll and Ali Sauer.

Business major Jacob DeMille poses for a portrait on a snowy day in front of the Anderson Student Center on February 20, 2019 in St. Paul. DeMille was photographed for the Humans of St. Thomas series.

Business major Jacob DeMille in front of the Anderson Student Center.

Jacob DeMille’s Blue Cross Blue Shield summer internship started out as an opportunity to gain experience in the medical field, but soon turned into dedicating part of his summer to Habitat for Humanity and the Chainbreaker ride, a bike tour that raises research funds for the Masonic Children’s Center.

Logan Felbab and John Thurner participated in the 2015 inaugural Freshman Innovation Immersion program, which brought incoming students together before the academic year began to learn what it takes to think like an entrepreneur.

The following seniors were Excel! Scholars for the year 2018-2019: Samuel Figueroa, Bontu Gemeda, Abigail Heller, Linda Nzabamwita and Mary Yeboah.

Ethan Finger was a part of a team that researched mental health on campus for a design-thinking entrepreneurship course.

Bontu Gemeda found her passion for history while spending the summer working on a research project under the guidance of associate professor David Williard.

Andrew Grabowski reflected on Kyle Reid's impact on the St. Thomas diving team, saying "he really does show us that nothing is impossible."

Tommie engineers Cooper Gray, Darya Klimok, Janelle Mueller and Josh Niemeyer won second place in the annual Basic Utility Vehicle competition, and received the Most Innovative Design Medal.

Seniors Nick Hayes, Katie Swift, Billy Lemire, and Briana Johnson talked about what scholarships mean to them and their St. Thomas education.

Both Autumn Heiderscheit and Kateri Schmidt were in a Wonderlust Theater Residency course that involved using theater to extend what they have learned in the classroom.

Rachael Heier, with biology associate professor Simon Emms, spent a summer researching how annual climate change may affect native trees. 

Alex Heimerman immersed himself in the music world by snagging a coveted summer internship at Red Light Management in Nashville. He worked on everything from graphic design projects to VIP events for some of the biggest names in country music including Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton, Jake Owen and Jon Pardi. 

Nicole Herrli and Christina Utz commented on the importance of BrightSide, a community partnership that provides fresh, affordable produce to corner stores in food deserts.

St. Thomas student Nicole Herrli packs up a Brightside Produce stand August 31, 2017 in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Brightside, a project conceived at St. Thomas and run with the help of students, operates produce stands throughout the summer. The stands bring healthy food (some of which comes from the St. Thomas stewardship garden) to underserved communities.

St. Thomas student Nicole Herrli packs up a Brightside Produce stand August 31, 2017 in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Garrison Hoffbeck focused on marketing and strategy for the Playful Learning Lab, a research group focused on creating fun, unique and engaging hands-on experiences for PK-12 students and educators. 

Alexandra Howard spent a summer networking in New York, eventually landing a Fashion Week internship.

Savannah Hufendick won the Fowler Business Concept Challenge Business Concept Track in 2017 with her Safe in Sound product.

Fatoumata Jaiteh changemaking

Fatoumata Jaiteh

Fatoumata Jaiteh started the nonprofit From Mother to You, which is dedicated to pulling together the resources Gambian mothers need in their children’s early months of life. Jaiteh was also the winner of the Changemaker Film Festival in 2018, was one of 11 St. Thomas students to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2018, and was nominated for the 2019 Tommie Award.

Noah Larson expressed his love of the World Eats station at the View, noting the Cubano station.

Herbie Lee explained how the Anderson Student Center "can really help expand your college experience in a lot of different ways."

Sarah Lynch, a North Dakota native who found her way to St. Thomas, expressed her love for music.

Kelly Mallon joined four other mechanical engineering seniors – Joseph Lee, Brett Marshall-Cieciuch, Nick Turch, and Derek Van – for seven weeks in Amman, Jordan, as part of the School of Engineering’s inaugural Global Summers Senior Design program.


Left to right, mechanical engineering students Brett Marshall-Cieciuch, Derek Van, Kelly Mallon, Joe Lee and Nick Turch pose for a team portrait.

Marcella Mandarino and Jayda Pounds attended a discussion by Kristi Hemmer, founder and CEO of the Academy for Women’s Empowerment, who spoke about how women can make a living by putting their passions into action through business.

Gino Marchio commented on the Thx Campaign, saying "philanthropy is about helping each other … it’s about generosity and gratitude. A culture of both generosity and gratitude creates a place where everyone can succeed. This is what it means to be a Tommie.” 

Matt Michalski was one of 20 mentors that contributed their entrepreneurial experience and perspectives at the two-day Freshman Innovation Immersion program. 

Carol Mikhael has done research on renewable energy and the environment, thanks to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power & Energy Society Scholarship she received, and her current internship at Xcel Energy.

Andrew Mohama spent 70 days over the summer of 2017 riding a bike from Maryland to California to raise awareness and funds for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Mohama himself raised nearly $7,000.

As a board member of the Muslim Student Association, Yusuf Mohamoud has worked hard to create opportunities for himself and fellow students to live out their faith on campus.

As part of the Compleat Engineer Boot Camp - a J-Term course comprised of engineering majors and led by School of Engineering faculty member Doug Dunston - Keoni Mortenson reflected on what he took away from the experience.

Zahra Mustafa learned a wide range of skills through ThreeSixty’s Rookie Journalist camp, saying this experience will empower her future career plans.

Both Tom Negaard and Benjamin Schroeder commented on how Professor of the Year Victoria Young has influenced their academic careers.

Kong Phen Lee enrolled at St. Thomas after participating in the Minds Matter Twin Cities mentorship program.

Jennifer Ramirez was a part of studying the first-generation experience, working with Cristo Rey students.

Four St. Thomas students’ idea for a solar-powered water purification system advanced to the final round of the global Hult Prize competition. Anna Rauzi and her team traveled to San Francisco for the competition, becoming the first St. Thomas team to advance to the final round in five years of Tommies participating.

Alice Ready and Emma Rinn researched how aerial images from drones can best be used to gather data and support the work of the Minnesota Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that protects ecologically important lands and waters, such as the Weaver Dunes Preserve.

Student Alice Ready flies a drone July 10, 2017 at the Weaver Dunes near Kellogg, MN. Lorah and his students are mapping areas of the Weaver Dunes with a drone in order to study the effects of prairie restoration efforts. The research is funded in part by a sustainability grant.

Student Alice Ready flies a drone at the Weaver Dunes near Kellogg, Minnesota.

Mary Resemius and her group decided to help the homeless population of the Twin Cities register to vote. She presented her findings at the National Association of Social Workers conference with the hope that other social workers will begin to use voter registration as part of their toolkit.

Emma Rinn won a $200 award and presented her research, “Identifying food deserts for the aging and elderly in the Twin Cities” at the 2017 GIS/LIS Consortium annual conference in Bemidji.

ROTC cadet Jackson Roche went to Estonia thanks to Project Global Officer (Project GO), a Department of Defense (DOD) program through which dozens of other St. Thomas Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students have taken advantage of learning languages and cultures around the world.

Victor Sikeley was one of 11 students to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University where he represented his company, Initiative for a Better Africa. He was also the Promise Prize Scholar at the Change Create Transform Foundation’s leadership summit in Washington, D.C

Anna Starks told the Newsroom, “we want to be welcoming. We want to show we support you” during the class of 2021 March Under the Arches.

Abby Sunberg connected with Molly Peterson, director of the Mathematics Resource Center (MaRC), to work and do research with a differential analyzer, a large mathematical tool that can be used for calculus.

Eric Udermann enrolled in a community engagement theology 101 course, commenting on how "the service learning aspect of the class has presented me and the students with a practical application of the material we have learned.”

Hannah Wallace, who is also a student representative on St. Thomas' Sustainability Council, runs the St. Thomas chapter of the Food Recovery Network, a nationwide student movement that works to reduce the amount of food waste at colleges and universities.

Amira Warren-Yearby was one of the 2019 Tommie Award finalists. She is the president of the Black Empowerment Student Alliance and was named a ThreeSixty Journalism Scholar in 2015.

Portrait of senior Amira Warren-Yearby in the Anderson Student Center taken on January 28, 2019. Amira was photographed for a Humans of St. Thomas written feature.

Amira Warren-Yearby

Steven Widlowski used his Business 200 course to teach religious education classes at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Mendota, Minnesota.

Michelle Wise deepened her skills in business process mapping and decision analysis by helping develop a fleet vehicle tracking system, which meets the needs for record management while minimizing the amount of work and resources needed for implementation.


A University of St. Thomas law school moot court team, including Jacob Behmer and Warsame Galaydh, was recognized with the third best brief among 18 teams at the regional Jessup International Moot Court Competition.

Ben Bencomo and Catherine Roberson were part of the School of Social Work's cohort to fulfill the new degree requirement of defending their doctoral banded dissertations.

Law student Lee Bennin was part of the University of St. Thomas Intellectual Property Moot Court Team that went to nationals in April 2018. They earned a spot in the Washington, D.C., competition after beating out 14 Midwest law school teams in a regional competition in March.

Bridget Gallagher-Larkin coached undergraduate students on writing a curriculum for St. Peter Claver Catholic School.

Paris Yarbrough

Paris Yarbrough

Samantha Hoefs argued a prisoner medical neglect constitutional tort case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California.

Mimi Levin received the Minnesota State Bar Association Bernard P. Becker Legal Services Award in 2018. This recognizes a Minnesota law student who demonstrates a commitment to providing skilled and zealous legal representation and advocacy to low-income Minnesotans.

Paris Yarbrough was featured on Humans of St. Thomas. She is a Page Scholar, president of the Black Law Students Association and a student body leader.

Dougherty Family College

Ten students received full-tuition scholarships towards receiving a bachelor's degree at St. Thomas, including Isabel Abarca-MacPhee, Xavier Abdullahi, Mortaza Ahmady, Mesum Haider, Andrea Mena Rodriguez, Leslie Nicolas, Kelly Ordonez-Saybe, Renee Sande, Kevin Santiago-Martinez and Sahra Warsame.

full-tuition scholarships to pursue bachelor's degrees at St. Thomas

Dougherty Family College students gather after being told of their full tuition scholarships to pursue bachelor's degrees at St. Thomas.

Xavier Abdullahi discussed the value of support systems and access to advisers and mentors. He was also an Excel! Scholar, a post-baccalaureate achievement program helping undergraduate students to complete their degree and be competitive for graduate school.

Abukar Ahmed said, "the mix of strengths and weaknesses across each student cohort means students can obtain guidance from classmates when they need it or provide it to others."

DeAmonte Black commented on the importance of DFC's cohort model being set up where students are able to help each other and keep one another accountable.

Jessica Chamu explained how she had to study hard to get her grades up, something many first-year students come to realize.

Kyle Mikesell said, "there are actually no words to describe how awesome it feels to be in the inaugural class. It’s a great feeling.” Mikesell also painted a “DFC” mural in the college’s student lounge.

The student speaker for the Dougherty Family College commencement is Kelly Ordonez-Saybe.

DeAmonte Black and Najma Osman both took part in DFC's internship program, interning at U.S. Bancorp and LymanDoran, respectively.

Citlally Ruiz said the DFC faculty "are really passionate about their teaching. They want the students to learn; it’s not about just passing each semester. They try to determine different ways to help you figure out each subject.”