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Taking the Lead: International Student Commencement Speaker Zinzile Sibanda

Zinzile Sibanda grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She chose to attend Hamline over other schools after a personable Skype interview with the admissions officer and because it offered a unique opportunity to experience the United States from the midwest. When she arrived in Saint Paul with her mother, they found a green campus and a welcoming community that provided Sibanda a home for four years. That community became critically important when, during her junior year, her mother passed away unexpectedly. She could have abandoned her studies; but, Hamline faculty, staff and students rallied around her, provided support, and ensured that she continued her education and graduated.

In her last semester, after a professor encouraged her, Sibanda entered the competition to be the 2018 student commencement speaker. She was selected from among a pool of entrants by the committee. Her speech focussed on how special the Hamline community is, and also how important it is that graduates take what they’ve learned into the wider world. She challenged her classmates to build and strengthen the communities they find themselves in.

“Go out into the world and take the lead...build and strengthen your communities so that they withstand the tests of time and the pressures of the world.”
 

An accomplished student while at Hamline, Sibanda received the Karen Vogel Prize in Political Science, a recognition for high achievement and student activity in international organizations, diplomacy and public policy. Sibanda’s additional campus engagement included memberships in the Hamline African Students Association and the PRIDE Black Student Alliance. She also served as a global mentor and president to Hamline’s Model United Nations. Since 2016, Sibanda has attended the annual National Model United Nations Conference in New York and served as chair to the International Telecommunications Union at the 2018 conference. Following graduation, Sibanda will pursue her graduate degree in political science with a focus on international relations and transnational government at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.