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Saints Spotlight with Niyokwizera Eva ’24

Join us as we sit down with Black Student Union President Niyokwizera Eva and discuss her time at Thomas More and the accomplishments she has been able to achieve through clubs and friendship.

David Klenk: Thank you very much for joining us for another edition of Saints Spotlight. Today we’re joined by Niyokwizera Eva, and she is the head of the Black Student Union here at Thomas More University, among many other things. Thank you very much for sitting down with us, Eva. 

Niyokwizera Eva: You’re welcome.

DK: Would you mind sharing with us your year, your major, and how did you find Thomas More and know it was the right place for you?

NE: I’m a junior, I’m a law major, and I knew Thomas More was right for me because in my process of selecting the college to go to, I wanted to find something that was very small. I had three top options: Seattle University, Shawnee State, or Thomas More. Now I had never actually heard of Thomas More before they started, you know harassing my email, and I say that in a joking way. Colleges have to recruit and promote, I ended up getting a visit here and on my form I put that I played lacrosse and soccer, and I was very involved in school, as I am now. When I took the visit here, McKinsey Adams (she graduated last year), she was my tour guide, and when she gave me the tour and I was like, “Okay, I like it, it’s so small the I can walk to class.” The shortest walk to class is about five minutes, and they also offered me a scholarship to play lacrosse. I wanted to play a sport in college, just not soccer. So I was like “that’s perfect.”

DK: That it is. Now the Black Student Union has grown since its inception in 2019. Can you tell us what has worked to fuel that growth before and after you became president of the club?

NE: Before I became president of the club, I would say that Whitney Johnson, Diamond Vance, India McCullough, they all kind of laid the foundation for it because I know that India came here in 2019, it might have been 2018 because she graduated last year. I know that they started the Black Student Union so they could have a place to feel safe, not that campus isn’t safe, but they wanted a place where they could be comfortable and they could be themselves in a place where other students of color could also be themselves. They pretty much did a lot of the hard stuff, I would say, like they had all of the events that discussed racial inequality, they had events that basically explain what the Black Student Union is and why it’s important. I feel like now I get to do all the fun things, all the fun events that just incorporate black culture.

DK: That’s right. What has been your favorite BSU event or initiative?

NE: I would say my favorite BSU event is the BSU Rally that we have every single year because I feel like, no matter what, people are going to come to that event. You don’t even have to really promote it, but the fact that we all can come together for change, and not change that just involves students of color, but change that involves everyone around the campus because I feel like for us to continue moving forward and to continue making change, it has to be done throughout every department and not just student affairs.

DK: What accomplishment are you most proud of as president of the Black Student Union?

NE: I would say I’m most proud of how I – actually I have to think on this one – it’s kind of hard! I would say I’m most proud of how I’ve incorporated the opinions of students when it comes to events. Like this year, most of these events are suggestions that I got from students, or criticism that I got from students. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m able to use criticism to make events, like yesterday we had “Taste of Soul” event for the first or second day of Black History Month. That event was created because a lot of people complain about campus dining. I was like, “Well, my sister likes to cook all the time and she cooks soul food, I think we should do that” and we did. There there was literally a tray of collard greens left and two pieces of cornbread. That’s all that was left, so I would say it was successful.

DK: What did you guys start with the day? Like what was did you all cook?

NE: We had three cheese mac and cheese, cornbread, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and then we got chicken from Popeyes because fried chicken is something you can’t mess up, you just can’t! And what was the other one? Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I just forgot what it was. We had the fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread, sweet potatoes… oh, deviled eggs! And deviled eggs.

DK: That certainly will make a worthy trip down to the dining hall. I hope that we’re able to continue that even without it being just February – having good food. Who are what do you draw inspiration from?

NE: I would say I draw, and this is gonna sound so corny, I draw inspiration from God. I’m someone who’s very faith based, so for me everything that I do has to align with the will of God, right? When I’m doing things, I do it not for the validation or for the approval of other people, but the approval and validation of God. If it’s something that doesn’t fall in his will, I’m not going to do it. So I just basically try to serve others and practice selflessness. I try to love others the way that Jesus did, just the way we were taught in Sunday school.

DK: Right on. What are your plans and goals for after graduation here at Thomas More?

NE: After I graduate, I’m going to go to grad school here. I’m going to try to be a GA (graduate assistant), so we’ll see how that works out. I’m not actually sure what field I’m going to go into, which is why I’m going into grad school because while I’m still thinking, I want to at least have a master’s (degree) and then I want to also continue my podcast that I just started “The Purpose Podcast.” It’s basically a faith-based podcast where I’m searching for my purpose through interviewing people who’ve either found their purpose and I’ll have some of my friends come on there as well to describe their journey.

DK: It’s definitely sounds like an interesting premise. Did you say that you’ve already have an episode or two and one that was actually with Thomas More faculty?

NE: Yes, the first episode was just me. I was introducing myself and then I kind of define what “purpose” is in biblical terms and what “purpose” means to me. Then I had Dr. Haverkos, the dean for the College of (Liberal Arts and) Social Sciences.

DK: Where can viewers find that podcast?

NE: It’s on Spotify, Apple podcasts, just anywhere podcasts are, it’s all out there.

DK: And it’s called “The Purpose Podcast.” Awesome. And then lastly, what advice do you have for any Thomas More students at home?

NE: So my advice would be 1) always do your assignments before you go out. Just make sure your assignments are done before you go out or do anything and then I would say: discover yourself, try new things. Like try a bunch of different things because you never know what you like until you try new things. And then also, pick one thing that doesn’t benefit you; pick something to do that benefits others. Something that you get completely no benefit out of, something that doesn’t really help you but helps others because along the way, you’ll learn how satisfying it is to serve others, and how, I guess, how fulfilling it is as well.

DK: Those are some selfless words, thank you very much for sharing them.

NE: You’re welcome.

DK: Thank you very much for being our Saint Spotlight today and taking the time out of your day to talk with us, and thank you guys back home for joining us for another edition of Saints Spotlight from the new Thomas More podcasting booth. We will hope to continue to grow as it is necessary and thank you again, check out in the next one, have a good one.