Sebastian Bellm will reflect on a future of hope and how to overcome doubt when he addresses his classmates and guests as the student speaker at St. Bonaventure University’s 156th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 15.
A student in the university’s Honors Program, Bellm is a double major in accounting and finance and pursuing a minor in law and society.
You would have to have a flair for numbers to pack all of Bellm’s activities into any given week.
Bellm has volunteered to share his business expertise by providing free income tax preparation to workers with low and moderate incomes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and serving as consulting director for Enactus’ annual entrepreneurial service trip to the Bahamas.
Since 2012, Bellm has been president of the St. Bonaventure Mock Trial Team, where he has earned a number of awards in mock trial tournaments. He’s had several powerful internships, including at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago and in the Felony Trial Division of the Cook County (Ill.) State’s Attorney’s Office.
He has also served as a tutor, a mentor in the Freshman Leadership Program, a lector for University Ministries, president of the St. Bonaventure sailing club and a member of the club soccer team.
St. Bonaventure has a sailing club? It does because Bellm organized one. He’s introduced the sport he loves to other students by planning annual trips to sail on Keuka Lake.
“It’s a little thing I love doing,” said Bellm.
St. Bonaventure is a perfect place for a student who wants to set his own course. That’s part of the reason Bellm chose the university.
When he was looking at colleges, Bellm “wanted an excellent business program and a liberal arts component. That’s what I found at St. Bonaventure in the business school and Clare College (core curriculum). Bonaventure also had everything I needed if I wanted to make a difference or start an organization.”
Such as a sailing club. And a consulting corporation that offers free business and marketing services to Olean-area businesses and non-profits.
Dr. Todd Palmer, associate professor of management, describes Bellm as a student with the ability to create and sell a vision.
“Last year, he came to me and (fellow School of Business faculty member) Mike Kasperski with the idea of starting a student consulting firm,” Palmer said.
A year later the Cattaraugus County Consulting Corp (C4), which provides consulting services to businesses with advanced, hands-on learning, has 40 student members and 10 clients.
“C4 is set to become a 501c3 (tax-exempt, nonprofit organization) sometime this year. Not only does Sebastian have a vision, but he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty,” said Palmer. “Sebastian is a true professional.”
Bellm is the son of Harald and Patricia Bellm of Mishawaka, Ind., and a graduate of Marian High School in Mishawaka.
His summer 2015 internship has already led to a full-time job offer from PwC. Bellm will begin his post in Chicago this fall.
St. Bonaventure’s Commencement weekend begins Friday, May 13, with a Candlelight Induction Ceremony at 8:45 p.m. on the steps of De La Roche Hall. Commencement Exercises begin May 15 at 10:08 a.m. in the Reilly Center Arena. New York Times columnist and St. Bonaventure alumnus Dan Barry will give the keynote address. For more information about Commencement weekend activities, visit www.sbu.edu/Commencement.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
St. Bonaventure has selected “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown as the All Bonaventure Reads (ABR) book for 2020-2021.
“I’m Still Here” challenges readers to face how the institutions we live within have an inherent structure supporting whiteness. The author, who was named Austin to avoid preconceived ideas about black-sounding names, recounts her experience growing up in a white community and her journey working toward racial inclusivity in society.
Brown discusses how racial injustice has permeated all facets of society and in order for people to move toward understanding and equality, they must be more willing to live out their words rather than simply speak them.
The All Bonaventure Reads format will be different this year, as are many initiatives, due to COVID-19. The university’s first-year students typically receive the ABR book at Orientation in July, read it during the summer, and prepare an essay as their first college assignment.
With Orientation moving online this summer, “I’m Still Here” will be given to students when they move in during Welcome Days and will be incorporated into the curriculum of the first-year seminar course, SBU-101, along with other campus events during the fall semester. The summer assignment will instead be an essay asking students to reflect on themes found in “I’m Still Here,” St. Bonaventure’s 15th all-campus read.
“Brown’s authoritative tone and moving message make this a must-read”
— Publishers Weekly
“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.”
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