Memorial Service Honors Kenya Student & CSU Grad Student

A candlelight memorial service honoring Patricia Miswa, a native of Kenya and Centennial Student Union Communications graduate assistant who died Jan. 4, will be Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the CSU Hearth Lounge.

All are invited to attend to share in remembering the 32-year-old creative writing graduate student and globally-known “story-teller.” The memorial will offer time for personal reflections and placing of flickering candles around the Hearth Lounge fireplace. Anyone with photos of Patricia that they would like to share for viewing at the memorial are encouraged to send them to or share on the Centennial Student Union Facebook.

Arriving to Minnesota State Mankato this fall, Patricia joined the CSU staff and the Communications GA. Lenny Koupal, CSU communications coordinator, said Patricia’s graduate assistant application was a pleasant surprise.

“Her application as I was about to give up hope for a qualified GA candidate for this academic year seemed like a godsend,” Koupal said. “The expectation that my office and our students would gain from two years’ experience with someone with Patricia’s maturity, experience and wisdom was an outcome I looked forward to fulfilling. But life can spin on a dime and leave us dizzy, off-balance and drained. What we seek to do now is honor her spirit and example.”

Patricia’s pursuit of a master’s degree in creative writing sought to fulfill her dream of being a “story-teller.” She had already made great strides toward that goal with her successful online magazine, AfroElle. Through her magazine she sought to illuminate the lives of African women who could serve as beacons of hope and inspiration for others. Her magazine’s global audience was evident by her Instagram account with more than 200,000 followers.

“As an hommage to Patricia, we hope to create an online magazine with shared photos and stories about Patricia to share with her family, friends and followers,” Koupal said.

According to Patricia’s mother, Josephine Ouma, an educational fund is being established in Patricia’s name.

“The family has decided to support her vision of helping young people,” she said, “particularly young, disadvantaged women acquire skills that would help them be economically independent by setting up a Patricia Miswa Education Trust Fund.”

Koupal added that Patricia will continue as the inspiration and driving force for a new CSU Communications initiative.

“We planned to start ‘You Got This,’ a program seeking student success stories that would encourage fellow students struggling through various aspects of college life,” Koupal. “It was to be Patricia’s graduate project modeled largely after her empowering work with AfroElle. In memory of Patricia, that initiative will continue. I have to believe that somehow she will be telling us all, ‘You Got This’ as we move forward.”

Anyone seeking more information should contact Lenny Koupal or the Kearney International Center at Minnesota State Mankato. 

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