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.

Remaining Relevant in the Third Chapter of Life

Phil Styrlund, smiling, wearing a suit and purple polka-dot tie
Phil Styrlund, CEO of The Summit Group .

Join Augsburg alumnus Phil Styrlund on campus for a talk on living a centered life and mattering more to others and for others.

Date:  Friday, May 19
Time: 9 a.m.  to 11:30 a.m.
Location: Oren Gateway Building, Room 100
Free
Space is limited. Please RSVP by May 15. 

 

Speaking from his own rich storied personal experience and research, Phil Styrlund will take us on a journey to renewed relevance in our calling in the third chapter of life.  

We live in a time of vast and uneasy change. A state of economic, social and political turmoil has become the rule, rather than the exception. The promises of the past—a stable job, a clear career path, a comfortable retirement—are elusive and increasingly unattainable. There are people, of all ages, who are rising to the occasion, creating and renewing their role in a shifting world. They’re building relationships, networks, businesses, and wealth because they have discovered the true secret of success in an uncertain world. That secret? Relevance. To be relevant means being an integral part of the new society, of the economy, of the future. It means being the kind of person on whom others depend, whether for leadership, expertise, acumen, or emotional support.  It means be able to truly act out your faith by impacting others at a deeper level.

In this discussion, Phil will briefly discuss the four keys areas of lifetime relevance.

Authenticity

This entails knowing who you are at the deepest level, “being” that person in your internal thought processes, and finally appearing to others as you are, without pretense or phoniness.  Authenticity is the foundation of relevance because if you don’t understand who you are and where you’re “coming from” you can’t possibly lead or influence others.  

Mastery

Mastery is essential to relevance. You can’t give away what you don’t have. However, mastery goes beyond mere competence and skills. It means approaching one’s life and relationships as an act of creation, rather than a reaction to people and events.  It means approaching lifelong learning with a sense of fun that adds pleasure and energy to the tasks at hand.  It means expanding your principles and practices so that they serve a greater purpose. 

Empathy

Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) being experienced by another being.  It is the source of compassion, caring for other people, and the desire to help.  It means the ability to experiencing the same emotions that another is feeling, without unnecessary judgment.  Empathy creates relevance because it creates the deep connection that brings people together.

Action

It is your actions, ultimately, that make you relevant to others. All the authenticity, mastery and empathy in the world remain sterile, until and unless put into motion. It is through action that you change yourself and change the world. Without action, even a great and brilliant mind and soul remains entirely irrelevant.

Participating in this event and facilitating discussion will be Augsburg Senior Fellow Jack Fortin who is the author of The Art of Not Getting Stagnant” and Centered Life, a book published by Augsburg Fortress Press in 2006, relating the twin doctrines of justification and vocation to the practicalities of living a life of faith 24/7.  Continue reading “Remaining Relevant in the Third Chapter of Life”

Financial Aid Update for Parents

view of Augsburg College sign. Text reads: Financial Services UpdateAll financial aid documents for the 2016-2017 academic year (including private loan applications) must be completed and/or returned to the Enrollment Center by April 15 in order to receive financial aid for the spring term. Students can go to 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 terms begin March 29. 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 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 augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/payments. Please see the Parent Information tab at  augsburg.edu/studentfinancial for instructions on making a payment and obtaining access to discuss your student’s financial information. Please note that we will be unable to speak with any parent/guardian that has not been authorized by the student.

The 2017-2018 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be completed online at FAFSA.ed.gov using the student’s and parent(s) 2015 federal taxes. Remember to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to directly import the tax information, and make sure to submit the FAFSA by signing with your FSA ID.

The Joy of Circling Back

Awale Osman wears a blue shirt and smiles in front of a hedgeFor a young man born in a Kenyan refugee camp and immigrating to the U.S. at age 12 through the persistent efforts of his hard-working mother, to now be chosen as one of 31 young Fellows from 25 countries to participate in the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Learners’ Voice Program may seem unlikely. And for Awale (“Wally”) Osman ’15, it is “surreal.” But this opportunity is one of many that have energized him.

And, for him, this year’s conference topic is very close to home—Global Forced Migration and Refugee Crisis.

Osman has just returned from the first residential session, held in Athens, Greece, where the Fellows had a chance to study how Greece was handling its own refugee crisis and the challenges that affect a refugee community. The group heard from established experts on the topic, studied where crises were occurring, and proposed possible solutions. They heard from those working “on the ground” and did volunteer work with individuals having to go through the process of seeking asylum. The session in Athens (“an extraordinary experience,” says Osman) and a second residential session, to be convened during the summer in Madrid, Spain, will culminate in the WISE conference in Doha in November.

As Osman looks back on the many opportunities he has been granted, he is consistently motivated to give back. He mentions his ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in the U.S., who played a pivotal role in conquering his first major barrier (and that of most refugees)—language. Those teachers also put him in touch with Boys & Girls Club, where he became involved; Upward Bound, which prepared him for college; and TRiO/Student Support Services, which helped him persist in earning his bachelor’s degree. These are part of the Federal TRiO programs funded through the U.S. Department of Education and focusing on providing comprehensive academic support, integrated learning courses, learning communities, academic English enhancement, and leadership development for low- to moderate-income, first-generation college students and students with disabilities.

Awale Osman with TRiO studentsOsman sees these TRiO programs as the “main pillars” that helped him grow personally and professionally. They enabled him to set goals and find connections to resources. They evaluated his progress, held him accountable, and served as a source of emotional support. And they kept him connected, even as he worked to support his family (most of whom now live in the States). Continue reading “The Joy of Circling Back”

Collaborate with Artists on Hagfors Center Artwork

The Augsburg Religion Department and Institutional Advancement are now seeking student and alumni input for artwork to be installed in the new Hagfors Center. The artists Greta McLain and Stanton Sears and Andrea Myklebust are seeking your best ideas on text passages that could accompany three artworks designed for the new building. Selections of text may come from any literary work or religious text of any faith tradition, as long as they are inspiring and fitting with the spirit of the artwork. For students, display boards depicting the artwork designs will be posted around campus, where anyone may fill out a slip and drop it in the submission box. Or check out the link to see more information about the artists and submit your ideas by April 6!

Submit your ideas!

 

 

Join AWE for an evening of women in music

Close-up of Riverside Singers performing. Text reads "Augsburg Women Engaged. Join AWE for an evening of women in music. Sunday, March 26 6-9 p.m."Join the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) Philanthropy Council for an evening of choral music by, for, and about women!

Nancy Grundahl will lead the Augsburg College Riverside Singers in the annual WomanVoice: Voice of Hope choral concert. Women’s choirs from around the area, including the University of Minnesota Women’s Choir and Encore! of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir will join hearts and voices to sing music by, for and about women.

Sunday, March 26, 2017
6-7:15 p.m.    Pre-concert reception sponsored by AWE
                        Oren Gateway Center lobby
7:30-9 p.m.   Voice of Hope choral concert
                        Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center, Augsburg College

Space is limited. Parking permits will be provided. RSVP by March 20 to Becky Waggoner, Alumni Relations Program Coordinator, at 612-330-1085 or waggoner@augsburg.edu.

About the Riverside Singers
The Riverside Singers, directed by Nancy Grundahl, carry on the long tradition of treble choirs at Augsburg College. The singers participate with other Augsburg musical organizations in the annual Advent Vespers each Christmas season at Central Lutheran Church. Participating in chapel services several times during the year is an important part of the choir’s mission, as is hosting an invitational treble choir festival each fall.

Nancy GrindahlAbout Nancy Grundahl
Nancy Grundahl is a conductor, composer and soloist and holds vocal performance degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota. In addition to her position with the Riverside Singers of Augsburg College, she is the conductor of the Angelica Cantanti Concert Choir, a youth choir based in Bloomington, Minn. and is the Director of Music at Mayflower U.C.C. in Minneapolis. More than sixty of her arrangements and compositions for choirs have been published by Kjos, Hal Leonard, Augsburg Fortress, Alliance, and Santa Barbara music publishers. She conducts honor choirs throughout the upper Midwest and is active as an adjudicator, clinician, soloist, and guest conductor.

Logo: Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) - Connecting. Learning. Giving.About the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) Philanthropy Council
The AWE-Inspired Philanthropy Council was created in 2015 to function in an advisory and support capacity to Augsburg’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Our goal is to strengthen the culture of philanthropy among Augsburg women of all ages. We focus on ways to educate, engage and celebrate Augsburg’s alumnae donors and women in the community.

AWE-Inspired Philanthropy Council: Shelby Andress ’56; Debby Crowley ’76; Rachel Engebretson ’98; Lisa Latham ’83; Joni Marti MAL ’05; Lori Moline ’82; Kris Pearson ’78; Cindy Sisson ‘83; Danielle Stellner ’09; and Lisa Zeller ’81, MAL ’89.

Augsburg Associates Highlight Alumni Travel Program at Spring Brunch

Kathy Swanson standing near a fence, feeding two young elephants on the opposite side
Kathy Swanson on the Augsburg alumni tour to Thailand and Cambodia.
Lori Moline smiles with a cliffside chateau in the background
Lori Moline ’82 of Seminars International

All Augsburg alumni are welcome to attend the annual spring brunch sponsored by the Augsburg Associates on Saturday, May 6, in Hoversten Chapel. From Velkommen Jul to fundraising for student scholarships, the Associates have been a volunteer-led support for Augsburg for more than 30 years. The theme for the annual brunch is Bon Voyage – Augsburg’s Alumni Travel Program. Katie Koch, director of alumni and constituent relations, will share her experiences and photos from the recent trip to Germany, which celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Professor Kathy Swanson, who led the January 2017 trip to Thailand and Cambodia, will highlight her travel stories and photos. Lastly, Lori Moline ’82 of Seminars International will talk about the history of the alumni travel
program and trips on the horizon that are now in the planning stages.

The event will be held in Hoversten Chapel and begins with registration at 9:30 a.m. and the program beginning at 10 a.m. A delicious brunch will accompany the program. The cost of this event is $30 per person. There is also an opportunity to sponsor a student for $30. Friends, family, and all Augsburg alumnae welcome!

Briana Ekstrom
Briana Ekstrom ’18

Register now at augsburg.edu/alumni/events. You may also call Becky Waggoner at 612-330-1085 and provide your credit card number for payment. A parking permit will be emailed to guests prior to the event and will be available at the door to guests without email. If you are not able to attend, please consider making a donation to the Associates‘ scholarship fund at augsburg.edu/giving and THANK YOU!

Your donations to the Associates’ Scholarship Fund help to support students like Briana Ekstrom ’18, of Chaska. Briana is majoring in vocal performance, with a minor in music theater. Her goal is to become a vocal coach, and she is already thinking about graduate school.

Healing Waters

Jason Kusiak standing in front of the ocean holding a very large fishJason Kusiak spends late winter and early spring long-lining for cod and haddock, and most of the year catching lobster. Fishing in some of America’s oldest seaports near Gloucester, Mass., gives Kusiak an appreciation for the area’s rich history, and a healthy respect for those who made a living fishing the Atlantic in earlier times. He relishes the hard work, excitement, and competition of constantly driving at something, and “with fishing, you can see the direct result of your work ethic,” he says.

Also, the waters seem to provide the environment for a thoughtful transition. Kusiak is the first to admit that his career plans are still evolving, and that, at 33, he’s not sure what lies ahead. He states with conviction that he always wants to be growing, and “to be present” in his own life in order to experience much and maintain great relationships. Oddly enough, a few years ago, he wondered if he would live to be 27.

Very active as a youngster, Kusiak had earned a black belt by age 9 and had placed first at nationals. In high school he played football, basketball, and lacrosse. He pushed himself to excel. But at the end of his senior year and on the eve of a big recruiting summer for lacrosse, a high school party became the proverbial “fly in the ointment.” Racing through the woods in the dark with a friend, Kusiak ran into a fire-road steel gate, resulting in a double-compound fracture of his leg and the shattering of his elbow.

Jason Kusiak smiles for a selfie in front of a sunset over the ocean. Two birds soar overhead.Kusiak became addicted to painkillers, and it was a struggle not only to discontinue use of opioids but to obtain help from insurance companies to do so.

He eventually sought help and treatment at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Shortly thereafter, he learned about the StepUP® Program, Augsburg’s residential collegiate recovery community, and he began his studies in 2006. “That fellowship of walking through this together” (in the same residence hall as other students dealing with substance abuse) made academic success much more likely, and Kusiak felt as if the “whole school bought into it and that’s why Augsburg is unique.” He is especially grateful to StepUP’s director Patrice Salmeri and former director Dave Hadden and to professors John and Peggy Cerrito for the “great impact” of their entrepreneurial class, particularly the focus on learning through experience and connections. Continue reading “Healing Waters”

Financial Aid Update for Families

photo of Augsburg College sign with the words "Financial Services Update"New this year, all students wanting to apply for 2017-2018 year financial aid must submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) using their 2015 federal taxes ***(not their 2016 taxes) ***. Students can complete the FAFSA online at FAFSA.ed.gov . Remember to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to directly import the tax information, and make sure to submit the FAFSA by signing with your FSA ID. The priority deadline for completing the financial aid application is May 1.

Registration for the summer/fall 2017 terms begin March 29. Students who have unpaid spring charges or are not up-to-date on their payment plans will be unable to register.

The last day to register for two monthly payments under Augsburg’s Online Payment Plan is March 26, 2017. Please go to augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/payment-plans-and-discounts to sign up for the payment plan.

Students can make payments online by going to augsburg.edu/studentfinancial/payments . Please see the Parent Information tab at  augsburg.edu/studentfinancial for instructions on making a payment, signing up for a payment plan, 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.