Ready to Create the Future

May 6, 2015
Muhammad Jiwa looking at flowers

Every year nearly 15,000 students graduate from the University of Minnesota and embark on the next step in their journey, joining U of M alumni around the world. This spring, the Class of 2015 will begin to make its mark in health care, technology, business, and agriculture, fueling innovation with boundless energy and the skills to create the future.

U alumni include founders and presidents of fortune 500 companies, visionary artists and authors, 55 members of congress (plus 19 governors and two U.S. vice presidents), and thousands more working to make a difference every day.

Who will the class of 2015 become?

We spoke to three 2015 grads about their experience at the U and their plans for the future.

Muhammad Jiwa

Wildlife science, whole systems healing, and sustainability studies

Muhammad Jiwa’s interests are varied to say the least. Jiwa created his own path through the U’s self-designed Inter-College Program. He’s interested in everything from ecofriendly buildings and biomimicry, to working for nonprofits and launching multiple businesses, while ultimately returning to exotic animal veterinary school. This summer he’s reaching out to Twin Cities area mosques to incorporate environmental studies into the Sunday school curriculum for children, hoping, he says, to inspire youth in how they approach the concerns of their time.

How do you see yourself having an impact on the world?

By shifting the paradigms of society on nature and the environment. I am going to use my skills … along with my world experience to engage in conversations and make positive change both nationally and internationally.

How has your education helped to prepare you?

The U helped me a tremendous amount with being prepared for the world’s challenges… Everything is interconnected, and reaching across different disciplines can go a long way toward creating changes that are longer lasting and further reaching. Having a well-rounded education helps in connecting more dots.

What’s most exciting about graduating?

I’m excited to start making a positive change in the world—socially, environmentally, and economically.

Did anything about college surprise you?

I was always told that I was “overthinking it”… [I’ve come to realize] that I am not overthinking it—I’m just a researcher/scientist at heart.

Caitlin Dippo

Architecture

Though technically eligible to graduate, Caitlin Dippo has been awarded the Katherine Sullivan Scholarship, which will allow her to continue her studies in architecture and urban design at the Danish Institute

for Study Abroad in Denmark, a nation that, she says, employs a "putting people first" architecture policy.

How do you see yourself having an impact on the world?

Through sensitive architecture and design. I think that working across professions is key to designing sensitively, as it allows you to attack problems from many different perspectives. In Denmark, I'd like to focus my attention on design that is conscientious of people and place.

Did anything about college surprise you?

I think [an] awakening experience happened the first time I set foot in the College of Design woodshop and I realized that I could make anything I wanted with my own hands. I practically live there now!

What’s most exciting about graduating?

Finding my niche in the design community. I am very curious to see where I end up.

What are you planning to do “just for fun” in the near future?

I would like to continue to make furniture and small toys for myself. And maybe someday I will make them for other people too.

Ben Ihde

Physics and astrophysics

During his time at the U of M, Ben Ihde has put his creative spirit to use, cofounding the hugely successful College of Science and Engineering Expo, which brings nearly 2,000 middle school students to campus for hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects and demos created by U of M students. After graduation, Ihde plans to use his leadership and technical skills searching, he says, for an opportunity that will allow him to explore the world.

What do see as the biggest challenge you’d like to address?

How to get more young people hands-on experience with STEM. These fundamentals are critical to inspiring new engineers who can defend against global warming or to colonize the solar system. I'm working with local leaders on how to put science in kids' hands, and I think the potential exists for greater national collaboration.

How has your education helped to prepare you?

The University has given me a safe environment to make mistakes and learn from them. In the world after college I want to be the person approaching new challenges [with curiosity] born of experience and excitement for a new opportunity.

Did anything about college surprise you?

In 2013 I spent a month in Paris through a study-abroad program. I cannot recommend study-abroad experiences highly enough to anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the wider world.

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