Spring 2019

Forward thinker

Wearing his pride: Mike Kenyanya boasts a UMD Bulldog lapel pin and a bracelet with the flag of Kenya, where he was born.
Photography by Brett Groehler

Mike Kenyanya is taking a well-deserved break on a wintry Thursday afternoon. The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) senior studying information systems management spent the day speaking with lawmakers in St. Paul. He’ll gather with other student leaders in Minneapolis that evening. In the morning, he’ll meet with incoming U of M president Joan Gabel before driving back to Duluth. 

The packed schedule isn’t unusual for Kenyanya, who has been UMD’s student body president for the last two years and was recently elected to the student seat on the U’s Board of Regents. “I haven’t known college without being involved in student government,” he says. 

What’s your biggest accomplishment?

My sophomore year, students at all campuses asked for more resources for mental health. We were well below the national best-practices ratio of students to counselors. Wait times were long. We now have two additional counselors at UMD. Ten years from now, we can look back and know someone is getting better because of work we did. 

What concerns you these days?

The cost of attendance. Thirty years from now, how much is a UMD degree going to cost? Will people consider it worth it?

What has scholarship support meant to you?

Scholarships are someone’s hard-earned money. They’re saying, “I want someone else to get educated.” I don’t take that lightly.