‘This place makes good people’

Ruby DeBellis

Ruby DeBellis ’18 (Bloomington, MN) is an achiever, a dreamer, and an optimist.

That’s why faculty and students at the University of Minnesota Morris chose her to deliver their 2018 commencement address.

DeBellis decided to enroll at Morris four years ago after a friend recommended she compete in Morris’s Community of Scholars event, where she won scholarships covering half her tuition plus a $2,500 stipend.

“I ended up having no debt,” she says.

DeBellis’s time at Morris has been marked by numerous opportunities. A big one was getting accepted her junior year to the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute, a seven-week program that prepares undergraduate students for graduate study and careers in public service.

The program takes place at just five universities. Among Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, and Berkeley, Debellis chose the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Policy in the Twin Cities.

In between research seminars, guest lecturers, and field trips to places like the Federal Reserve, nonprofits, and Target Corp headquarters, she worked on a plan for the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

“They tried to give us the full range of public policy options we could pursue with a degree. It really opened my eyes to what public policy actually is.”

Recently, she was able to use that experience to write the City of Morris’ first ever communications plan and policy.

“When you have this many faculty and staff to support this many students—there’s no way we’re getting out of here without a billion different experiences and opportunities,” she says.

As to her commencement speech advice, DeBellis is humble about her place in it all.

“We’ve all gone through these four years together, and we’re all staring into some uncertainty, but we all have a grounding,” she says. “We all have accomplished things. We’re ready to forge our own paths from here.”

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities