Emma Lohman – Staff Writer
Senior Psychology major Reidun Kubisa is this week’s Gustie of the Week. She shares this honor with last week’s Gusite of the Week, Senior Ingrid Kubisa, her sister.
Kubisa was inspired to pursue a career where she could help people because of her father, who works with children who have been forced to join the military in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is an illegal practice in the country, and her father works to remove the children from such a dangerous situation and provides them with an opportunity to learn life skills and reintegrate into society.
When she first came to Gustavus, Kubisa knew that she was interested in health, but she wasn’t sure which field.
“My second year I took a general psychology class because I was just curious to know, what is psychology? They talked about it a lot here in the U.S., but we don’t really talk about it back home,” Kubisa said.
What she learned in that course led Kubisa to declare psychology as her major. Currently, Kubisa has a part-time job with the City of Minneapolis Health Department working on COVID-related issues. After graduation she hopes to go into Occupational Therapy or Clinical Psychology.
Outside of psychology, one of Kubisa’s favorite classes that she has taken at Gustavus was a J-Term course taught by English professor Phil Bryant. In this course she got to teach English to workers at the Cambria factory in Le Sueur.
“[I tried to] make them feel comfortable, while trying to teach them a new language. Most of the workers were from Spanish-speaking countries…Getting to meet people from another culture but still finding connection [made me feel] so grateful for that experience,” Kubisa said.
At Gustavus, Kubisa is a member of the Pan-Afrikan Student Association and is one of the co-chairs for Africa Night, which is coming up in April. Kubisa also serves as the event co-chair for IGNITE, a new organization on campus that works to provide civic education, exposure to women in political leadership, training, work opportunities and a peer network of women who support each other’s aspirations to become the next generation of political leaders.
“I work with amazing girls. They are so passionate…it’s helping me a lot because I don’t have a lot of background with politics, especially American politics,” Kubisa said.
Another organization that Kubisa is a part of is the French club. Kubisa speaks five languages including English, French (the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Swahili, Mashi (the traditional language spoken in the village where her parents are from), and Lingala (which is mainly spoken in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa). She is also currently learning Spanish. Jeremy Robinson is the director of the Gustavus Culpeper Language Learning Center and has gotten to know Kubisa well.
“It has been my pleasure working with Reidun over the last couple of years. She has been a key member of our Mwami et Moi game development team, and her art has brought the game to life,” Robinson said.
“We have had great experiences together, and along with other things, I will always remember our conference presentation in Montréal. Amongst other attributes, she has a kind heart, and she will be missed once she graduates this year. We can expect great things from her,” Robinson said.
Besides languages, another one of Kubisa’s passions is music. She has been singing in a choir since she was five years old.
“My entire family loves singing. It is such a huge part of my life,” Kubisa said.
Currently, Kubisa sings in the Choir of Christ Chapel and the Gustavus Social Justice Choir. Kubisa appreciates the opportunity to be exposed to music that she wouldn’t normally listen to and to meet people outside of her classes. One of Kubisa’s favorite memories from her time at Gustavus has been singing in Christmas in Christ Chapel.
“I love to watch [Kubisa] sing. She is an open and authentic person, and you can see that even more clearly when she sings. She is both fully present in those moments and yet completely unselfconscious. I appreciate her presence in my classes so much,” Dr. Cherland, Director of the Choir of Christ Christ Chapel and the Gustavus Social Justice Choir, said.
The Social Justice choir is comprised of a small group of students and Kubisa is grateful for the opportunity to discuss current issues that are affecting peoples’ lives.
“We have really interesting conversations. Last time we learned about the Black National Anthem…This class is really helping us be introduced to new cultures through music, which I love,” Kubisa said.
Kubisa has two pieces of advice for younger students: try to step out of your comfort zone and try to get more involved on campus.
“Find something that makes you relax, something that you enjoy doing. For me, it’s choir. That has helped me a lot mentally,” Kubisa said.