by Erick Phill
Known for her devotion to community, friendly personality and love of Beyoncé and Frank Sinatra music, Ruti Doto (a December 2016 graduate currently finishing her Master’s in Business Administration or MBA) left a mark on campus culture as an influential representative of minorities.
Born in Ethiopia and raised largely in the U.S., Doto desires to bring cultural unity to people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. “My goal has always been to go back (to Ethiopia) and be a part in helping communities thrive and come out of poverty,” said Doto.
When the time came to choose a college, it was a tie between the University of St. Thomas (a private Catholic school) and The University of Northwestern – St. Paul. “When I came to visit the (Northwestern) campus, it was very welcoming and beautiful. Because of the small size, everyone gets to know each other,” noted Doto.
Northwestern’s follows a specific mission to, “Equip Christ-centered learners and leaders to invest in others and impact the world” according to the Northwestern website. Because of this, there are many departments and organizations dedicated to teaching students cultural competency. Dr. David Fenrick, Assistant Dean of Experiential Cultural Development (formerly C-Grace) oversaw her growth as a student and leader during her time at Northwestern.
“She has a very outgoing personality; always inclusive and welcoming with other students,” said Fenrick. During her time at Northwestern, she was very active in the Fellowship of Reconciling Cultures Everywhere (FORCE). She sought to educate herself on race relations and community life. “She went to two conferences with us (Student Life): the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in North Park University in Chicago and the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation at Biola University in California.”
Doto spent a large portion of her time volunteering at FORCE: planning events, organizing activities and creating a few new things for students to take part in. Kristina Rodriguez, a May 2017 graduate with a Spanish major from the UNW College of Arts and Humanities, met Doto while volunteering at FORCE. “She started Table-Talks because she had very strong feelings about certain situations and things that weren’t being talked about on campus,” said Rodriguez.
While she is completing her MBA, Doto is currently working at Special Harvest Heartland as an Agency Relations Account Specialist. “I work with communities to implement different programs that directly relate to hunger relief in specifically the east metro,” explained Doto. For her, this is all a part of her God-given passion.
“I really hope to build and develop different communities. I want my career to focus on how I can utilize different resources and help communities flourish,” said Doto. Always seeking opportunities to bring awareness to underrepresented cultures, she finds ways to get the community involved.
Of Doto’s many accomplishments, she received an Intercultural Unity Award for her efforts in volunteering at FORCE, organizing events, creating Table-Talks and many other efforts. This award, as described by Fenrick is, “An idea I had to recognize two students, a male and female, for their engagements in cross-cultural service and leadership.” Students nominate their peers for this award, the winners receive the award during Awards Chapel and their names are engraved on a plaque in the Student Life offices in G111.
“She had a very powerful voice and whenever she spoke you knew it was going to be something important,” stated Rodriguez. Working as a multicultural mentor and serving as a director of student activities, Doto experienced the entire spectrum of student life/development during her time at Northwestern.
From her experience, Doto encourages students to, “utilize the resources you have, and know that the leaders at Student Life really do care. Don’t be afraid to take on leadership roles you may be hesitant about.” Though it is easy to get lost in a sea of due-dates and homework, she acknowledges the support Northwestern’s faculty provides. “The professors in the business department really invested in my life. They helped me overcome challenges in my spiritual life, my academic career and anywhere in between.”
Doto demonstrates character that all students can be inspired by. “She is passionate about Jesus’ good news of justice, healing and restoration for the poor, oppressed and (often) forgotten and overlooked. She has a heart that is caring, compassionate and empathetic for those who have been oppressed and broken by unjust systems and the circumstances of life,” said Fenrick.