Blessed Uwase smiles for a picture.
Abraham Swee/University of St. Thomas

Public Health Student From Rwanda Leads With Compassion and Determination

Leaving home for college is a daunting task for many, but for University of St. Thomas student Blessed Uwase, there was the added layer of crossing continents and adapting to American culture.

Uwase, who was raised in Rwanda and is majoring in public health at the Morrison Family College of Health, has carved a leadership role for herself at St. Thomas befitting of her major and her upcoming internship at the Mayo Clinic.

Blessed Uwase '25

In her role as a leader in the International Student Ambassadors program, Uwase connected with future students around the world and helped them through any struggles and inhibitions they found in moving to the U.S.

“Volunteering is one of my ways of giving back to the Office of International Students and Scholars,” Uwase said. “They were there for me in the beginning when everything was completely confusing, so to get to do that for other students just feels like a full-circle moment."

One way Uwase has helped others fit in is by helping to organize the annual International Student Dinner, an event where she remembers feeling welcomed as a new student.

Defining herself as a hard-working, caring individual, Uwase also gives back to the St. Thomas community by being a resident assistant in Tommie North. She prides herself on being a support system for the women on her floor.

“I’m able to support people with different personalities, backgrounds, and cultures,” Uwase said. “That’s something being an ambassador has given me an advantage for. Communicating with people who are fundamentally different from me is not hard at all because I am able to look outside myself.”

Uwase stays busy. She also serves on the executive board of African Nations Students Association, or ANSA. Off campus, she is a part of a Christian college ministry called Salt Company. There, Uwase serves on the worship team and leads a group of female students from St. Thomas, which she finds to be an incredible opportunity to help through her faith.

Everything Uwase is involved in is intertwined with her future in public health – specifically in maternal and child health. She says she is inspired by the kindness and advocacy she saw in her family’s Rwandan culture.  

“I grew up in a country that is really intentional with how they work in health care because that’s what allowed people to stay healthy and the country to develop as fast as it has from (the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda),” Uwase said. “I grew up in a house full of women who took care of each other, and I think that’s why I have a huge heart for women. I am inspired to speak a voice for the people who are often not heard and to take care of everybody regardless of how much they can pay or not.” 

Amanda Hager, the assistant director of international admissions, has worked with Uwase closely during her academic career.  

“Blessed is a true light to her community. She has a way of caring for others that somehow balances a deep level of maturity and thoughtfulness while still being her hilarious, effortlessly cool self,” Hager said. “When you talk with Blessed you can feel how much she is listening to you and empathizing with you and that level of authentic connection is one of the many things that make Blessed the incredible person she is.” 

Once she obtains her bachelor's degree, Uwase hopes to get a doctorate in maternal and child health, then assist underserved communities, including people of color and women. Eventually she wants to help her friends and family by becoming a doula or midwife. Her summer internship at the Mayo Clinic, where she will be a patient care assistant, will provide useful experience toward her goal.  

“It’s my first direct care experience and it’s going to expose me to the work that I’m hoping to do in the future,” Uwase said. “I’m excited to see how that hopefully increases my heart and passion for serving women and children and the doors that it’s going to open.”