The Ciresi Walburn Leadership Fellowship (CWLF) recently selected and inducted 10 University of St. Thomas first-year students for the 2022-23 cohort. The pinning and induction ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 9, in the Iversen Center for Faith amphitheater, where the inductees were greeted by the namesake benefactors, as well as St. Thomas Interim President Rob Vischer.
CWLF provides resources to help students address the barriers to success facing Black male students with high financial need. This fellowship provides funds for school as well as mentoring, leadership development and support for four years.
Program Manager Marvis Kilgore pinned each fellow, and each recited a pledge.
The Ciresi Walburn Fellowship 2022-23 cohort fellows are:
- Adill Ade
- Ayub Ahmed
- Christian Bekele
- Andre Clifton
- Quiyon Jordan
- Ibrahima Ka
- Mouhamadou Mbaye
- Phillip Mitchell
- Victoire Mwakana
- Eyoael Shimi
“The Ciresi Walburn Leadership Fellowship is not charity, it’s not a handout, it’s an investment, an investment in each of the scholars, an investment in this university, and an investment in the future of this community,” CWLF Executive Director Dan Sellers told the event attendees. “What we do know is each of you will accomplish amazing things; we don’t just believe it; we’re counting on it.”
The CWLF program was created through an endowment from the Ciresi Walburn Foundation, established by attorneys Michael Ciresi and Roberta Walburn. The program strives to help develop and empower scholar leaders as they make strides toward their goal to become professional and community leaders. CWLF aims to help graduating fellows become gainfully employed in a degree-required profession or attending graduate school after four years at St. Thomas.
“There will be hurdles, there will be false starts, there will be mistakes, that happens with everyone, but the answer to all of that is perseverance,” Walburn told the scholars in her address. “There will also be naysayers and the best response to the naysayers is to prove them wrong … You have to listen to yourself, not what [others] tell you.”
Ciresi also gave advice to the students: “Sacrifice, do what you need to do today, and your tomorrow is always better … Focus yourself and visualize what is going to happen and put the effort in to make things happen.”
“Today is a celebration of new beginnings, new goals, new outcomes, and future success,” said program director Kenneth Cooper. “Consequently, do not waste time because it is one thing that cannot be bought. Instead, moments must be seized. Trials and tribulations built upon. And the best times savored. The path to success involves these things but dedicate yourself to the journey and the grind of life, and success will most likely await you,” said Cooper.
Vischer commended the personalized remarks Cooper made about each fellow. “Even though the fellows are just beginning their St. Thomas journeys, he knew each fellow well enough to talk about their gifts, personalities and distinctive attributes,” Vischer told other St. Thomas faculty and staff after the event. “In other words, he made it clear to each fellow that he is already seen, understood and valued. They know they belong. That powerful sense of belonging is a strong foundation for confidence, initiative and resilience.”
Learn more about the Ciresi Walburn Leadership Fellows program.
Cheyene Bialke is a third-year student at the University of St. Thomas. Bialke is pursuing a double major in digital media arts and journalism at St. Thomas and has hopes of pursuing a profession around those subjects.