Niya Nyasha Nyapamba will give an address at the Commencement Ceremony on December 17 as the Student Commencement Speaker. Nyasha will graduate with a BA in theatre arts with a minor in international business. “Being selected feels unreal, and I truly feel honored,” Nyasha said. “Knowing where I come from and where I am now, I have to thank theatre. I started it in junior high school and continued with it throughout college because with theatre, I am my true self. Theatre has helped me cope with past trauma and being able to write a play about my story as my senior project was really meaningful to me. The Theatre Program gave me a place to tell my story and I had professors like Heidi Kraay and mentors like Gordon [Reinhart] who were willing to listen and walk with me through every step of my senior project. Shoutout to Dana Whitesell who directed my play, she was amazing to work with, she was my rock through it all.”
Nyasha emigrated from Burundi to the United States as a child, after she and most members of her immediate family survived the Gatumba Massacre of 2004. Her family came to Boise through the United Nation’s Refugee Agency. After a time of not speaking at all, Nyasha excelled in school and girls’ basketball. In 2014, while a student at East Junior High, she won a Boise Mayor’s Youth Award “honoring young people who have demonstrated tremendous character by rising above hardships, serving their communities, and exhibiting kindness and consideration for others.” After attending a girls’ basketball tournament at Boise State, she knew she wanted to become a Bronco.
Nyasha, who practices public speaking regularly with the Refugee Speakers Bureau, said she applied to be the Student Commencement Speaker in order to challenge herself. “I applied […] because I want to grow as a public speaker,” Nyasha said. “I felt that I needed to push myself to do something I’ve never done before. Also, I wanted to let my fellow class know that anything is truly possible if you put your heart and mind into it. I want them to know that when an opportunity comes knocking and you feel like there’s no way it’ll become a reality, just try or should I say just click the submit button and watch miracles happen.”