Register Now for the Centered Life Series

This coming fall and spring, Augsburg University and Luther Seminary will be presenting three series of presentations and conversations surrounding the Reformation and the rewards of living a life centered in Christ.

  • October 18, 25, & November 2 – The first series, presented by Dr. Hans Wiersma, will explore the breakthroughs brought on by the Reformation regarding justice, freedom, and vocation.
  • February 21, 28, & November 2 – Dr. Mark Tranvik will host the second series, which will focus on vocation and its continuation into later years and retirement.
  • April 18, 25, & May 2 – The last series will be an exploration of Biblical characters who had important experiences in their third chapters of life, presented by Dr. Diane Jacobson.

All talks will take place at 12:00 p.m. at Luther Seminary, 2481 Como Ave, St. Paul 55108 in the Olson room.

Jack Fortin
Jack Fortin

These sessions are inspired by the writings of Jack Fortin, Executive Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning at Luther Seminary. In his book, The Centered Life,  Fortin encourages us to forgo attempts to achieve “balance” between the disparate facets of our lives: family, work, personal care, community involvement, and so on. Balance, he claims, is nearly impossible to maintain when there are so many ways our time and effort can be consumed by pressing needs in one area or another. In our attempts at balance, we can find that instead our lives are fragmented and contradictory, and hinder our aims for a life of purpose and alignment with God’s providence and love.

Instead, Fortin urges us to seek a centered life, one characterized by a consistent, daily focus on God. A life centered on God, he writes, can help us understand who we are and our purpose in life, and enable us to live out our vocation in all facets and moments of life.

Join us this coming October, February, and April for this inspiring series inspired by the concept of the Centered Life, each a set of three talks focused on a particular aspect of living in awareness of God’s presence, especially at later stages in life when the sense of vocation can seem unclear.

Register by visiting the alumni event page. Each three-week series is $45 and includes entrance to all three talks. Presentations will take place at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Register Now for Board Repair Recruitment Fair

Board Repair is an organization that aims to create a more effective nonprofit sector by increasing participation of people of color on boards in the Twin Cities. We are proud to announce that this year Augsburg will be sponsoring Board Repair’s 2017 Board Recruitment Fair on Monday, August 21st at the Courtyard Marriott in Minneapolis. This is a chance for prospective board members of color to meet and mingle with organizations looking to strengthen their leadership boards with greater diversity and fresh perspectives. All indigenous and people of color who are interested in nonprofit leadership roles are invited to attend the fair and a post-event social hosted by Make It. MSP. Board Repair is also still accepting registration for organizations interested in tabling at the fair.

Prospective board members of color or indigenous register here

Organizations can register in advance here 

Board Repair: Taking the Leap from Fretless Films on Vimeo.

Access: It can change your life

Danielle Stellner smiling on a roof in St. PaulAs a child growing up in Chicago, Danielle Stellner ’07 heard mixed messages in her community about the importance of education. But in her family–a family of modest means–there was never any doubt that excelling in school was non-negotiable. Her mother made that clear.

Then, at the age of 18, Stellner herself became a mother. She knew her son was a real blessing. She also knew she yearned for something more in life, but she wasn’t sure what.

As she looks back over the years now, she is impressed at how dramatically access can change one’s life and trajectory. Access to college, access to job opportunities, access to mentors.

Stellner stands with her partner above the ruins of Machu Picchu
Danielle and her partner Herbert on a trip to Peru

One such mentor for Stellner was Erik Nycklemoe, an early supervisor in her career whom she sees as the first person to care about her career and life development. He made it possible for her to earn her B.A. from Augsburg, she says, making her the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree. Access to evening/weekend study at Augsburg’s Weekend College (now Adult Undergraduate program) was a real break for Stellner, who needed to balance studies with being a working mom.

Moving to Minnesota in search of a safer life for Deion, her three-year-old son, Stellner landed an internship at a 24-hour news station in downtown Minneapolis, then moved on to editing, producing, and hosting. This experience helped hone her skills in content creation and delivery, and she later joined Minnesota Public Radio (a “happy accident”), where she now serves as Managing Partner of Business Planning. She sees public radio as more relevant today than ever. “You can trust public radio to rise above the pack and provide not only relevant news without slant, but arts and cultural programming that consumes you,” she says, and then quotes Thomas Jefferson: “…wherever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government….”

She also found time to complete an MBA from the Carlson School of Management, where she had access to another mentor, Lisa Bittman–a Godsend, and a grounding force through some tough years, she says.

In the whole process, Stellner fell in love with Minnesota and with her now-husband, Herbert Stellner, and they later welcomed two more children into the family, Herbert Stellner IV (9) and Clara Gem Stellner (7).

Stellner poses in cap and gown with her three children
Stellner completed her MBA at the Carlson School of Management

Stellner recalls her student days at Augsburg with gratitude, especially the fantastic lecturing of Dr. David Matz (sociology). In recent years she has reconnected with her alma mater, thanks to Shelby Andress ’56, who introduced her to the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) group–”the most incredible group of women I’ve ever met,” says Stellner. She is grateful to now be serving as co-chair of the AWE Council.

Stellner also serves on the board of Friendship Academy of the Arts, a blue-ribbon school that serves predominantly African American students, and on the board of Isuroon, an organization committed to self-sufficiency of Somali women and their families. Recently elected board secretary, Stellner is drawn to the organization by its dedication to changing the narrative that is portrayed in mainstream media to one that more accurately reflects the true family values of Somali culture.

Even with a demanding work schedule, Stellner and her family manage to keep a garden, and take delight in eating the fruits of their labors. But they wouldn’t mind some additional time with no agenda–time for family play, reading for pleasure–and perhaps a few extra hours of sleep. During Homecoming this fall, Stellner will be honored with Augsburg’s First Decade Award.

–by Cheryl Crockett ’89

Politics and Drama

Sam and Stephanie Walseth stand together in a wooded park

Perhaps this title conjures up confrontational images from the evening news—or memories of last year’s election. But for Stephanie (Lein) Walseth ’00 and Sam Walseth ’00, politics and drama are their lifeblood, and they co-exist amicably in their household.

Both Stephanie, whose theater experience in the Twin Cities is extensive, and Sam, who is president of a lobbying firm near the state capitol, are pursuing careers that are fulfilling and energizing to them. However, balancing the demands of their work schedules with their home life gets somewhat tricky these days. Two reasons for that are Graham (4-1/2) and Madeline (21 months), who can keep them scrambling.

Sam Walseth leans on his knees, wearing a suit and tieBut Sam says that being a daddy means everything to him—and that being a parent changes one in so many ways. “It’s the most awesome and difficult job” he’s ever had, and he particularly enjoys wrestling with them. As a lobbyist for clients who are mostly public-sector, nonprofit organizations in the areas of public education, youth development, and human services, Sam is on call 24/7 when the legislature is in session. With that reality, having friends and family who are willing to help with the kids in a pinch is a blessing. The jury is still out on whether he will have time to return to his guitar lessons, or whether Stephanie will get a chance to complete the kids’ scrapbooks.

How does one become a lobbyist? Sam’s involvement in student government at Augsburg led to his candidacy for an internship in his senior year. That internship, in turn, led him to the state capitol and, he says, he “hasn’t been able to get away since.” As president of Capitol Hill Associates, he takes satisfaction in succeeding on behalf of his clients, especially when he feels good public policy has actually been made. One of his most memorable days at the capitol involved securing major levy authority for rural school districts to take care of deferred maintenance issues. “This doesn’t sound very sexy,” he says, “but it closed a huge funding inequity and really helped rural school budgets.”

Stephanie Walseth holds her toddler

For Stephanie, there was no mystery about career choice; she knew as a little girl that theater would be her vocational path. She loved it then and still does. She is continually impressed with the multitude of ways one can be involved in the performing arts, and she has not been timid about pursuing numerous avenues. Her Augsburg experience was, she says, “pivotal” to her artistic philosophy and career, and she went on to complete an MA and PhD in Theatre Historiography at the University of Minnesota.

With professional theater experience that includes acting, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, and stage management, as well as arts administration, and educational work within academia and theater companies, Stephanie now finds herself at an interesting crossroads. The career possibilities that are most compelling include some combination of freelance artistic work, full-time work in the nonprofit sector, and positions within higher education. Whichever direction she veers, her work and life will likely focus in some way on social justice, a topic that has always been a passion for her.

Sam and Stephanie have stayed in touch with many Auggie classmates, including Erica Huls ’01, who snapped the family photos that accompany this story. Stephanie grew up around Augsburg since her mother, Cindy Peterson, served for 35 years on the staff (American Indian Student Services, and Scholastic Connections), retiring just last August. In her theater work on the Augsburg faculty (she has taught as an adjunct in the department since 2011), Stephanie has especially enjoyed becoming a colleague of the professors who taught her, such as Darcey Engen ‘88 and Michael Burden ’85.

Further solidifying the “Augsburg connection,” the Full Circle Theater Company, which Stephanie co-founded with four other Twin Cities theater professionals in 2013, has brought together her Augsburg prof/advisor, Martha Johnson (co-artistic director), and Johnson’s husband, Rick Shiomi (other co-artistic director), who was also the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts and Stephanie’s boss when she was managing director for that company. For Stephanie, the name of the company—Full Circle Theater—reflects not only the intent to address the multiracial, multicultural, multi-generational realities of contemporary America in all of its nuanced complexity, but also Stephanie’s own full circle in “coming home” to work with friends Martha and Rick. The company has created an opportunity for her to return to her roots as a practicing artist, and to expand the circle to include even more theater-makers, artists, and audiences.

Sam and Stephanie first met each other in the chapel on the first day of their freshman orientation. Years later, they were married by Pastor Sonja Hagander in the very same space, and both Graham and Madeline were baptized by Pastor Sonja there as well. Augsburg definitely feels like home to them!

Sam and Stephanie Walseth sit in the fall leaves with their two children


—by Cheryl Crockett ‘89

FINANCIAL AID UPDATES FOR PARENTS

The 2017-2018 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be completed online at www.FAFSA.ed.gov using the student’s and parent(s) 2015 federal taxes.  Students can go to http://www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/ and click on ‘Review Your Financial Aid’ to check the status of their financial aid, or to see what documents are missing or incomplete:

Registration for the summer/fall 2017 term is now open.  Students who have unpaid spring charges, or are not up-to-date on their payment plans, will be unable to register.   Students can go to http://www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/and click on “Review Your Student Account’ to see if they have an unpaid balance.

Tuition accounts must be paid-in-full for a diploma and/or transcript to be released; payments can be made online by going to http://www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/payments/. Please see the  Parent Information tab at  www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/ for instructions on making a payment  and obtaining access to discuss your student’s financial information, etc.  Please note that we will be unable to speak with any parent/guardian that has not been authorized by the student.

Graduating students who have borrowed federal loans must complete loan exit counseling at http://www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/loan-exit-counseling; this is an important tool to help students learn about their loan repayment options.