They make some people jumpy. Others see a tasty snack. But for a group of St. Thomas undergraduate students, crickets quickly became the ultimate global learning opportunity.
This spring the GHR Fellows program at the Opus College of Business is graduating its very first cohort. But before the 10 seniors could walk the commencement stage, they first had to work together on a “daringly delicious” senior capstone: developing a business plan for 3 Cricketeers, a Twin Cities cricket producer.
For GHR Fellow and entrepreneurship major Kyros Cline-Cole ’23, it was a moment he’ll never forget.
“It put us right in the real world,” Cline-Cole said. “It showed us just a little bit about what we will be capable of in our future.”
Beloved for their nutritious punch, crickets are becoming a popular protein alternative across the U.S. But the capstone project with 3 Cricketeers was chosen for another very deliberate reason: its ability to change the world.
Established by the GHR Foundation, the GHR Fellows program reflects the spirit of former St. Thomas trustee Gerry Rauenhorst, who believed that entrepreneurial creativity inspires solutions that improve lives. Fellows are taught to be principled leaders capable of advancing the common good with a global mindset.
In the case of 3 Cricketeers, a business built around sustainable farming practices, fellows worked alongside entrepreneurs with a demonstrated dedication to our collective future.
“We were able to consult with people who have a very good mission around sustainability and combine that with our own principled business skills,” Cline-Cole said.
Transformative undergraduate experience
The senior capstone is just one piece of the highly competitive, immersive four-year experience. Fellows receive full-tuition scholarships to the University of St. Thomas and participate in customized programming. They also receive individual career coaching, access to C-suite business leaders, and a fully-funded J-Term study abroad experience.
GHR Fellow Rachael Binstock ’23 applied to the program in 2018 with high hopes. The Nebraska native knew it could alter the trajectory of her life.
“It was a kind of moonshot for me as I was not able to afford college in the first place,” Binstock said. “I applied, thinking I’d love the cold. I don’t love the cold as much anymore, but I will always appreciate the opportunity this program created.”
Binstock got far away from the cold this January when the cohort took their J-Term study abroad trip to Ghana. The group visited neighborhood markets, a Ghanaian rainforest, and even met with Ghana’s second lady, Samira Bawumia. The entire itinerary was built to reinforce one of the program’s pillars, increasing global understanding.
“These people live such different lives than us, but that doesn’t make the way they live right or wrong,” Binstock said. “The trip really put that into perspective.”
Securing their next chapter
Back at home, four years of pivotal experiences are starting to pay off with real-world job offers. For the 10 students in the inaugural cohort, the majority are considering multiple offers before graduation. For program director Adrian Perryman, it’s clear why so many businesses are interested in hiring GHR Fellows.
“These students are very aware of the world around them, including their own personal privilege and their own effect on society,” Perryman said. “I know they’re set up to make a difference in our community and beyond.”
Helping students find that passion and sense of place takes significant time and support, something the GHR Fellows program was built to achieve.
“We provide as many individual touches with the student as possible,” Perryman said. “It goes to show that having a network of people to help secure those opportunities helps the student get to the next level.”
Amy Goldman, CEO and chair of the GHR Foundation and vice chair for the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees, was on hand for one of the first meetings of the inaugural cohort in 2019. The original purpose then – to further deepen the impact of St. Thomas through its graduates – remains as critical as ever.
“Our shared intention is to educate principled business leaders the world needs,” Goldman said. “As this first cohort prepares to embark on their careers beyond St. Thomas, each graduate will embody our intention as they live and work for the common good.”
Poised to give back
Inaugural fellow Tri Nhan Pham ’23 was born in Vietnam but his family moved to the U.S. when he was young. He’s excited to give back to both communities after graduation.
“I’m ready to take what I learned and help not just my community here in the States, but the community I came from,” Pham said.
An operations supply chain management major, Pham is currently considering multiple job offers. No matter where he ends up, he’ll continue to rely on his former cohort for support. The program is getting ready to launch a series of alumni events, fully utilizing the connections forged at St. Thomas.
“I don’t think we even know the true value behind this cohort yet,” Pham said. “It’s something that will really show off its value as time goes forward.”
And above all, he’s not done learning.
“I love learning. I will continue learning for the rest of my life,” Pham said. “I'm just ready for that learning to not include homework.”