Andy Muthoni ’24 | Lamu, Kenya
Majors: Communication Studies, Multimedia Journalism
Minor: Criminal Justice (NDSU)

Please tell us about yourself.

In the tranquil landscapes of Lamu County, Kenya, lies a small town called Mpeketoni, where I was born and raised. This place is also where my journey into journalism began amidst simplicity and close ties to my grandparents. It was here that I unearthed a deep passion for storytelling — a guiding light that has shaped my life’s trajectory. I find joy in spending time with friends and family, watching crime related movies, and listening to music, with my favorite genres being bongo, afrobeats, and Amapiano. I have six siblings, three brothers and three sisters.

How did you hear about Concordia College and why did you choose to attend college here? 

In my senior year at Mpesa Foundation Academy, our school collaborated with American Higher Education Consulting Ltd. (AHEC) for college applications. AHEC, with ties to Concordia, provided valuable insights about the college. Beyond online research, this additional source of information piqued my interest. Particularly, the exposure offered by the communication department, featuring programs like Concordia On-Air TV and radio, was a compelling factor that attracted me to Concordia. 

What do you enjoy most about the Fargo-Moorhead community?

What I appreciate most about the Fargo-Moorhead community is its commitment to cultivating vibrancy despite its size. Organized events and activities, ranging from downtown gatherings to community-wide events, provide meaningful opportunities for people to connect, interact, and forge friendships.

What are your areas of study and why did you choose those programs?

I am currently pursuing double majors in communication studies and multimedia journalism, accompanied by a minor in criminal justice. My journey into journalism began in elementary school, where I enthusiastically delivered event recaps, fostering a passion for journalism among my peers. Recognizing the absence of a journalism club in high school, I took the initiative to establish one, leading coverage of school events and empowering aspiring journalists. This early passion for journalism has been a guiding force throughout my academic endeavors.

In college, the dual majors in communication studies and multimedia journalism felt like a natural progression, allowing me to explore the intricacies of effective communication across various media platforms. The addition of a minor in criminal justice complements my academic pursuits by providing a nuanced understanding of legal systems, which I believe will enhance my investigative journalism skills.

What is your favorite multimedia journalism course and why?

Among the multimedia journalism courses I’ve taken, it’s challenging to pick a favorite, but Feature Writing with Erin Hemme Froslie and Strategic Communications and Public Relations with Dr. Kirsten Theye stand out. These courses have played a pivotal role in shaping my writing and critical thinking skills. Professor Froslie’s class taught me to analyze topics critically and find new angles for compelling stories. In Dr. Theye’s course, I learned to think strategically about communication, understanding its impact on public perception. Both courses have been instrumental in refining my journalistic approach and equipping me with practical skills for my future career.

What are your career goals and how is Concordia preparing you for life after college?

My career aspiration is to become an international investigative journalist, and my journey at Concordia has been instrumental in affirming that path. The support I’ve received from the Career Center, coupled with the invaluable advice provided by my advisor, Dr. Carlson, and other professors, has instilled in me a sense of preparedness for success in my chosen field. Concordia’s commitment to nurturing its students extends beyond academic guidance, fostering an environment that facilitates personal and professional growth.

Concordia’s commitment to nurturing its students extends beyond academic guidance, fostering an environment that facilitates personal and professional growth.

What activities and organizations have you been involved in?

On campus, my involvement has been extensive. I’ve served as an International Student Ambassador, a Tri-College Student Ambassador, and a Policy Ambassador with Free the Facts. Additionally, I’ve played various roles in the International Student Organization, Concordia’s Black Student Union, and have been a trailblazer for the Concordia African Student Association. Beyond that, I’ve been part of the Homecoming Committee, Student and Alumni Linked Together (SALT), and the soccer club. My commitment to campus life reflects my dedication to fostering a vibrant and inclusive community. Currently, I am serving as the Concordia Student Government Elections and Credentials Commission Lead for a second term.

My professional journey has taken me through diverse experiences, including a stint in D.C. as a program management intern with Atlas Corps, and roles as a digital media and communications intern with the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems and a summer news reporter intern with Sahan Journal.

What is your role in the Student Government Association and why did you decide to be part of SGA?

In my role within SGA as the Elections and Credentials Commission Lead, I am responsible for coordinating the interview and selection process for key positions, including chairs for Homecoming, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission (DEIC), and Campus Events Commission, in addition to planning and overseeing the student body elections. I play a crucial role in developing and implementing equitable and inclusive hiring strategies. This involves not only conducting the process but also training other commission members and holding them accountable to ensure a fair and inclusive hiring process.

My decision to be a part of SGA stems from my passion for promoting democratic processes and ensuring fairness and credibility. Having previously served in my high school alumni association’s electoral commission for two years, I wanted to continue contributing to such initiatives.

Could you explain what Concordia On-Air is and what your experience with that has been like?

Concordia On-Air is a weekly television program airing every Wednesday at 6 p.m., spanning approximately 45 minutes to an hour. The program is structured with diverse segments, encompassing news, arts and entertainment features, interviews, and highlights of the week’s trends. My engagement with Concordia On-Air has been a valuable opportunity, allowing me to contribute by writing and presenting news, as well as participating in various segments when required. 

This platform is open to all individuals interested, and its minimal time commitment provides an excellent opportunity to interact and hone my journalism skills. Being student-led, Concordia On-Air receives support from faculty members such as Dr. Carlson, underscoring its collaborative nature. Beyond the mentioned segments, individuals can also engage in production roles, involving studio directing and recording, offering a comprehensive experience in the realm of broadcast journalism.

What is your favorite Cobber tradition and why?

My favorite Cobber tradition undoubtedly is Homecoming. The weeklong series of events holds a special place in my heart as it provides an opportunity to revisit and learn about the history and traditions that preceded our time at the institution. The pinnacle of the Homecoming celebration, marked by the parade and the football game, is particularly impactful. The parade serves as a unifying force, bringing the community together. As students, participating in Homecoming allows us to experience a sense of love and belonging from both the current community and those who have been part of it in the past. The collective celebration fosters a connection to the rich heritage of the institution and reinforces a shared sense of pride and camaraderie among Cobbers.

You spent Fall 2023 in Washington, D.C., for the Lutheran College Washington Semester program. Could you give an overview of LCWS, what a day in the life was like for you, and what your key takeaways are?

The Lutheran College Washington Semester (LCWS) program, a component of the study away initiative facilitated by the Global Learning Office, affords students the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. The program structure entails engaging in a full-time internship along with two evening classes, providing a comprehensive blend of practical experience and academic enrichment.

During my time in the program, I was fortunate to secure two part-time internships: one as a program management intern with Atlas Corps and the other as a digital media and communications intern with the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. A typical week involved working Monday through Thursday at my internships, with Fridays designated for field trips. Additionally, I attended evening classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The program’s field trips were a notable aspect, offering enriching visits to prominent locations in the DMV area, including the Capitol, the White House, and Mount Vernon.

Beyond the structured elements, one of the most significant takeaways from the program was the accelerated pace of personal and professional development. The immersive nature of the experience, coupled with exposure to the dynamic environment of Washington, D.C., allowed for substantial growth and a deeper understanding of the intersection between academia and practical application.

What has been a highlight of your time as a Cobber?

A notable highlight of my tenure as a Cobber has been the invaluable connections I’ve cultivated with fellow students. Taking a deliberate approach to fostering friendships from diverse backgrounds, both within and beyond the college community, has significantly enriched my collegiate experience. This intentional effort to build a network of friends from across the globe has provided me with a nuanced understanding of various cultures, complementing the vibrant tapestry of our college community. These friendships have not only contributed to my personal growth but have also enhanced my ability to navigate and appreciate the cultural diversity inherent in both the academic and social aspects of Concordia College.

What advice would you give to an international student who is considering Concordia College?

Consider the distinct advantages that come with Concordia’s smaller community. The intimate class sizes foster a conducive learning environment, allowing for more personalized interactions with professors and classmates. The smaller community size also presents the opportunity to establish friendships more easily. The close-knit nature of the Concordia community promotes a supportive and inclusive atmosphere, facilitating the creation of lasting bonds with peers. 

You recently accepted an internship with Tunheim, through the Capitol Pathway Program. Can you tell us more about that?

Capitol Pathways is a distinguished paid internship initiative specifically designed for BIPOC undergraduates and recent graduates. The program aims to contribute to the long-term objective of fostering greater diversity in Minnesota state government by providing participants with comprehensive leadership, legislative, and career readiness training. This year, I am one of four students from Concordia participating in Capitol Pathways. Tunheim, the organization where I’m interning, has a notable reputation for working at the intersection of public affairs, advocacy, and communication. I am eager to contribute to their work and gain invaluable experience that aligns with my academic and career aspirations.

What are your postgraduation plans?

As I navigate the transition beyond my current academic phase, I find myself contemplating two viable paths: pursuing employment or enrolling in graduate school. However, the decision-making process remains complex due to financial considerations associated with funding. While the prospect of securing funding poses a current challenge, I remain optimistic. I have been accepted to American University in Washington, D.C., for a Master of Science degree in terrorism and homeland security policy, and I hope to begin in the fall.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

For current students, I would strongly recommend seizing the array of opportunities that present themselves and embracing a proactive approach to seeking new avenues for personal and professional growth. While it may initially seem challenging, stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue opportunities is an essential aspect of the college experience.

Published April 2024