Seven St. Thomas students were part of a 12-student cohort of African-American men named Ciresi Walburn Scholars. The new scholarship and leadership program involves career experiences, financial support and mentoring that will help the selected young men graduate ready to launch their post-baccalaureate careers.

The men are enrolled in a 12-week leadership class that concludes in August with presentations of research findings for nonprofit clients they supported. During the next two years, their experiences will include a paid summer internship, a retreat, a trip to a national leadership conference, regular cohort meetings, a writing course and networking sessions with prominent African-American businessmen.

St. Thomas’ students, all entering their junior year, included:

  • Amin Mahamoud, economics major
  • Jordan Schenck, mechanical engineering major
  • Malcolm Lawson, political science major
  • Matt Adeola, accounting major
  • Mohamed Mahamud, economics major
  • Riccardo Williams, business communication major
  • Robel Ponds, biology (pre-med) major

“I am the oldest of four children, and what pushes me is that I have to be an example for them,” Lawson said. “I also want to be in a position to help them in their journeys.”

The Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children funded the program with a $361,000 gift over two years.

“Our board feels strongly that a highly educated and inclusive workforce is essential to ensure Minnesota remains competitive globally,” said Michael V. Ciresi, president and chairman of the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children. “We were impressed by the fund’s approach and decided to invest in their efforts to ensure African-American men build relationships, thrive on campus and have access to academic and career resources.”

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