After working in a community garden his senior year in high school, Andre Griffin entered his first year at Augsburg University thinking he was going to be an environmental studies major. After some tough classes and guidance from his advisor, he realized what he loved about the community garden was how it was a tool for education.

Griffin is now a junior double-majoring in secondary education and history and still has his sights set on his old neighborhood of North Minneapolis. “After graduating I want to go back to my high school and teach,” Griffin said. “I would ideally teach for five to 10 years before becoming a principal or a college professor. I didn’t always have teachers who looked like me and I want to be able to make a difference in how we educate students.”

Griffin was selected to be a part of the inaugural year of the Ciresi Walburn Scholars, a scholarship and leadership program that involves career experiences, financial support and mentoring for African-American men, made possible by the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children.

“The scholarship helped me build momentum going into junior year,” Griffin said. “What can happen to students of color and in particular men of color is the imposter syndrome,” he said, referencing the psychological pattern when an individual doubts their accomplishments. “The scholarship helped me realize that good things happen for a reason and that I’m ready for any challenges that come my way.”

“Some of my goals are more tangible than others. I’ve got long-term and short-term goals that focus on being happy and helping others,” Griffin said. “I really want to be a person who students see in the front of the classroom and helps them feel empowered to be who they want to be.”