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Liberal Arts Graduates

Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka

What I do now: Pastor of St. Ignatius Parish and School in the Catholic Diocese of Gaylord in Michigan. I go by my first name because I’ve found it is easier for people to call me Fr. Sylvestre rather than Fr. Obwaka!

My work/job consists of: The day-to-day running of the Parish, administering Sacraments, School Counselor and Educator in matters of faith, serving on various church committees, assisting in community projects and fundraisers.

Path to my current career position (how I got from the past to the present): I grew up in Kenya. I obtained my BA in Philosophy from St. Augustine Major Seminary in Kenya, which is an affiliate of Urbaniana University in Rome. I came to the USA as a religious brother with a hope of studying to become a priest one day. But, I also wanted to pursue further studies in administrating a nonprofit organization (NPO).

How I got to LSUS (or why I chose LSUS): I wanted a school that would fulfil my dreams of running a nonprofit. Since I was residing in Shreveport at the time, the moment became opportune at LSUS.

Fond memories of LSUS: The day I met Chancellor Vincent Marsala in his office and introduced myself; when, as a graduate assistant, we applied for grants for the City of Shreveport to upgrade the Allendale neighborhoods, and wrote a grant on behalf of Shreveport Symphony Orchestra.

LSUS faculty who helped me: Dr. Norman Dolch, former Executive Director of the LSUS Institute for Human Services & Public Policy

How LSUS helped me succeed: The knowledge gained in the classes I took on how to run NPOs gave me insight into running a Catholic Parish.

Advice to college-bound students: “Focus”! This is what kept me going even after losing my dad in the final year of my studies. I stayed focused on the big dream.

Advice to someone who wants to enter my field: You must have a goal in life before choosing your field of study.

Tips on choosing a major or career: Choose what motivates you and you will excel in it! Pick a major that corresponds with your dream and career field.

My toughest professional challenge: In the day-to-day running of a parish, you meet people who are suffering so much. You wish to uplift their living standards, but are limited with resources to assist. Yet, one thing I always give them is hope.

My toughest personal challenge: A priest spends much of his time attending to the needs of other people. It is easy to forget oneself and be fully swallowed into the lives of other people; there is a need for self-discipline and a life of prayer.

Successes (honors, awards, etc.) in my life: After graduating from LSUS, I joined Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 2009.

I’ve learned this from life: No matter what one goes through, if you pray and work hard, you will always achieve your goals. 

What I’d be doing if I had all the time in the world: Serving the people more and making an impact in the lives of others through service.