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Published April 27, 2018
Excellence as a University of Wyoming honors student, service as a volunteer and key leadership roles at UW and around the world have resulted in the selection of Gabriel Selting, of Laramie, for the 2018 Tobin Memorial Award as UW's outstanding graduating man.
The annual award is based on academic excellence and achievement, service to the university, participation and leadership in the community and campus activities, and citizenship qualities.
Sophia Kwende, of Cameroon, is this year’s Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award recipient as UW's outstanding graduating woman.
Selting, the son of Marsha Knight and Leigh Selting, both UW faculty members, will graduate May 12 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies, and with minors in French and through the Honors College. He also studied Arabic.
His studies at UW focused on Africa/Middle East governance and conflict resolution. He completed study-abroad courses in France, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine and London. He also completed international volunteer experiences in Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and with Syrian refugees in France; plus completed internships in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Washington, D.C.
“My years at the University of Wyoming are characterized by a powerful commitment to internationalization and to public service,” Selting says. “I have been fortunate in that study abroad, international service and internships throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America have allowed me to cultivate a global perspective as a student and as a future immigration/humanitarian lawyer.”
He says UW’s International Studies Program has “been amazing,” in that it complements its diverse curriculum with myriad opportunities for students to see the world and connect the world back to UW. Selting also adds that his internships “rooted my life’s ambitions” in immigration and public service.
“I have tried to do so with an emphasis on public service,” Selting says. “My most substantial projects in public service span both the public and the private sector, shaping my vision of service and my commitment to marginalized groups.”
Selting’s commitment to public service globally has not gone unnoticed at UW.
“Simply put, this is a young man who will change the world,” says Thomas Seitz, who is the faculty adviser to the International Studies Student Club, in which Selting served as president the past three years.
“Gabe has been a natural leader in his classes from the very beginning of his time at UW,” Seitz adds. “My colleagues observed that, even as a freshman, Gabe would always be the one to draw shy students into class discussions. And, in group assignments, he could be counted on to lead his team to success.”
Even those outside UW praise Selting’s leadership ability.
Last year, working for the EPIC (Education for Peace in Iraq) Center in Washington, D.C., Selting gained a substantial understanding of the political landscape in Iraq and how it affects humanitarian assistance and the security situation, says Mark Seaman, EPIC director of development and communications.
As an example, Seaman describes Selting’s idea to geographically map the locations of bombing attacks in Iraq. The center has always compiled this information for its monitoring service subscribers, but the UW student’s innovation helped EPIC’s readers more readily visualize areas, intensities and impacts of improvised explosive device use across the country.
“It is a method we continue to employ and which has won praise from journalists, academics, fellow nonprofits and government agencies,” he adds.
Serving full time at the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, last year, Selting helped to advance U.S. national interests by promoting human rights, fostering a more effective workforce and contributing to “high morale” at a mission facing terrorist attacks and a harsh climate, says U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young.
“I look forward to future opportunities to see his achievements, with a hope that one day I will see him representing the United States as a diplomat,” Young adds.