Michaela Woodward – Staff Writer
Senior Ingrid Nyota Kubisa discovered that Gustavus was the place for her through several lucky coincidences.
Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kubisa and her family moved to Minnesota in 2016. They attended church in Minneapolis where they met former President of the College, Jim Peterson, and his wife Susan.
“They decided to help my two sisters and I who were college age to look around at colleges in Minnesota. Gustavus was the last one. I remember walking with my mom, my two siblings and Jim and Susan, and I was like, ‘Mom, this is my place. I’m staying here,’” Kubisa said.
The campus visit showed Kubisa that she was heading in the right direction.
“That was the same vision that my high school had, [I thought] ‘this is a sign’. When we moved, I couldn’t speak English that well and I was taking English classes at the time, and we had a tour in French, which is our first language, so that was really amazing,” Kubisa said.
“Where it says ‘Make your life count’ by the stairs in the campus center, [I saw that and thought] ‘this is what I want to do. I want to make my life count.’” -Kubisa
At Gustavus, Kubisa is a Political Science major with a double minor in African Studies and Peace Studies. Her interest in politics began early.
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is known as a war-torn country. The war started when I was born, in 1996. I grew up hearing stories about war and living [during] war. I was speaking about politics at a younger age. I was always interested to learn about the decisions that are made between countries and in my own country, like how the government makes decisions, and what they were doing wrong,” Kubisa said.
Because of these experiences, Kubisa wants to make a positive impact.
“I wanted to be a part of those people who can make a change in my country first, and then around the world. I didn’t have many options back home, so when I came to Gustavus all of these options were open to me. Now, my ideal work is working as a person in-between, like a negotiator or mediator in between the people and the government, but also churches, so that when decisions are made, they can be made for the common good,” Kubisa said.
While her goals include making a change on an international level, her current involvements allow her to help foster a strong sense of community on campus.
Additionally, Kubisa is Co-President of the Pan African Student Organization (PASO).
“I really like that organization because it’s a place we have to go and you’re comfortable talking about anything. You’re comfortable learning and accepting what you don’t know so that other people can teach you from their experience. It’s like a second home. When I’m done with homework I can go there and laugh, I can go there and cry with other people,” Kubisa said.
Senior Tyra Banks works with Kubisa as the other Co-President of PASO.
“[Kubisa] is an extremely dedicated and hardworking woman. She values her education and relationships with people and sets the standards for being a true Gustie. I am honored to serve as her co-president for PASO this year. I love that woman wholeheartedly,” Banks said.
Kubisa’s faith is another aspect that drives her involvement on campus. She is Co-President of the Multifaith Leadership Council.
“As a Christian, I really like to learn about other people’s religious backgrounds and worldviews. I want to engage in conversation that can help you learn about other people. I feel like at the end of the day we are not the same, but there are some similarities, and there are so many things that people can learn from each other,” Kubisa said.
Interfaith Program Coordinator Marian Broida works with Kubisa on the Multifaith Leadership Council.
“[Kubisa] is a person of tremendous integrity and faith. She is dedicated to promoting mutual appreciation and respect among people of different religions, races, and cultures. It is inspiring to see the way she has put her beliefs into action as co-president of the Multifaith Leadership Council,” Broida said.
Among other involvements, Kubisa is Co-President of French Club, a French Tutor, a worker in the Culpeper Language Center and a preaching intern.
As her time at Gustavus is coming to an end, Kubisa wants her impact to help maintain the openness she has found here.
“I want people to really feel like Gustavus is their home, a place where they can feel comfortable asking questions or saying ‘I don’t know this and I’d like to know,’ that transparency. I want people to remember that someone from the Congo was here, someone who didn’t know much about Gustavus but who felt that Gustavus was their second home, the right place for them to be,” Kubisa said.
“I always tell people that I see everyone at Gustavus as my future partners, and not my competitors. I want others to also feel that the people you’re working with, even after ten years, you can say ‘I went to school with that person, they can help me,’” Kubisa said.