St. Olaf College | News

A commitment to serving communities around the world

St. Olaf students Roger Ntawukulityayo ’16 (left) and Dillon Cathro ‘17 are focused on the importance of serving others.

Growing up in Rwanda and Belgium, Roger Ntawukulityayo ’16 became aware of global disparities and social problems at an early age.

Belgium is a developed country where most people have a decent standard of living and access to health care. In contrast, Rwanda — while it has made significant progress in reducing poverty and addressing disparities in access to health care and education — still lacks some social services.

“Since I was very young, my parents always encouraged me to help others and to be involved in my community to help improve it,” says Ntawukulityayo, who is majoring in economics and chemistry. “I’ve tried my best to do so — whether in Belgium, in Rwanda, or here at St. Olaf.”

Ntawukulityayo has been heavily involved in the St. Olaf community, serving on the Student Government Association as the Diversity Celebrations Committee coordinator, working as a resident assistant in Ytterboe Hall, and tutoring other students in math, economics, and chemistry for the Academic Support Center.

Ntawukulityayo also serves as the vice president of the St. Olaf Chapter of the Blue Key Honor Society, which recognizes well-rounded students in academics, leadership, and service.

Now he has the opportunity to extend his sphere of influence further as a newly elected member to the national Blue Key Honor Society’s Board of Directors. Ntawukulityayo was elected at the Blue Key Honor Society’s National Leadership Conference and will serve in this position for two years, helping organize conferences and making long-term plans for the honor society.

Blue Key National Leadership Conference
Ntawukulityayo attended the national conference this year with fellow St. Olaf student and Blue Key member Dillon Cathro ‘17.

Like Ntawukulityayo, Cathro has been an active student leader at St. Olaf. He has worked as a junior counselor and served on the board of SOMOS, a club that generates conversation about Latin America and engages Latin American perspectives. He also participates in St. Olaf Students for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Stateless People (RAS), through which he worked with Arrive Ministries to help immigrants and refugees when they first reach the United States. Cathro also tutors students in French and Spanish.

“At the conference we were able to exchange ideas on progress and service through break-out sessions,” says Cathro, who is majoring in social work and French at St. Olaf.

At the conference, both Cathro and Ntawukulityayo got an increased vision of what Blue Key can do both in Northfield and at St. Olaf. One idea they want to implement is setting up a Student Emergency Fund and a Book Fund by sponsoring a campus-wide activity like an Amazing Race. The Student Emergency Fund would help students cover costs in case of emergency needs. The Book Fund would help students purchase textbooks for their classes.

Blue Key at St. Olaf
The St. Olaf chapter of Blue Key began in 1932. Only 1 percent of a college’s student body — about 30 students at St. Olaf — can be granted membership. Faculty recommend students during their junior year to apply for membership, and current Blue Key members review applications and select new members.

As members of Blue Key, Ntawukulityayo and Cathro have helped organize service-focused activities and fundraisers that benefit both the St. Olaf and Northfield communities — from a 5K run to raise money for Healthfinders in Northfield to an event to encourage students to write thank you notes to Bon Appetit staff.

After graduation, Ntawukulityayo plans to pursue a career addressing disparities in the health care system.

“My St. Olaf education has turned me into a well-rounded individual, so it’s easy for me to connect with people,” he says.