Laboring for the Medically Underserved People in Burundi

The video Rachel (Selle) McLaughlin ’01 saw at age 16, featuring women who would walk for two days to reach a doctor, left quite an impression on her. Because pregnancy and its complications continue to be a leading cause of death in the developing world, she chose to focus on obstetrics in her medical education because of the great potential to help such women.

Now, as a medical doctor at Kibuye Hope Hospital in Burundi, McLaughlin has abundant opportunities to provide medical care to many, while also serving as professor and clinical faculty at nearby Hope Africa University, a Christian university that is growing explosively. With only 300 doctors in a country of 10 million, the needs are great. Though Burundi is quite fertile, it is still one of the 10 poorest countries in the world and is not big enough to support 10 million people and their farms. Most Burundians are subsistence farmers, earning less than $1/day on average, and the unemployment rate is about 40%.

McLaughlinFamWhat led McLaughlin to this East African country? During her residency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, McLaughlin and her husband Eric had ended up in the same congregation as two other medical couples, the Cropseys and Faders—and they became close friends. All six felt called to medical missionary work, and in 2009, they traveled to Africa for a two-year fellowship at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. They all sought a place to invest themselves long-term, a place that truly needed them and their medical education, and where there was African leadership and vision. They found it all in Burundi.

Their team (“the McCropders,” an amalgamation of their names), consists of doctors in six different specialties. They started work at Kibuye Hope Hospital in January 2014, in a facility that had no running water, empty shelves in the pharmacy, and only a few nurses. Little at a time, progress is being made, and thanks to an organization called Friends of Hope Africa University, they now have running water. However, the rusted-out pipes in the hospital need to be fixed, and essential medications are scarce. Most days, McLaughlin and her two OB nurses perform 3–5 deliveries, and care for an average of 30–40 inpatients—plus newborns. The hospital usually runs at 100% capacity (80–90 beds), with some patients sleeping on the floor or sharing mattresses. They lack medications, staff, and tests, and many days their X-ray machine is broken. But McLaughlin is excited about their 30-year plan, which calls for an eventual expansion to 300 beds. She knows, however, that they must manage the growth responsibly, confident that the necessary infrastructure is in place.

During her student years at Augsburg, McLaughlin took several mission trips to Mexico, her first few of many such trips. Having been very active in Augsburg’s campus ministry, she was especially pleased to return to campus in 2012 to speak at a Vocational chapel (“All Shook Up:  The Call to Change”), and to meet with students and staff. Just as she has been blessed, over the years, with many mentors, she now feels honored to advise and mentor students who are interested in medical or mission work.

Supported entirely by individuals and churches, McLaughlin and her team are seeking people with whom to partner in their hospital development and building projects. Several McLaughlinBabywebsites provide more information about the McCropders’ work—blog and articles (www.mccropders.com), an article on Hunger Culture (http://mccropders.blogspot.gr/2014/02/hunger-culture.html), an article on Poverty (http://mccropders.blogspot.gr/2014/01/first-impressions-poverty.html), and Rachel’s award-winning story about Burundi (http://thewell.intervarsity.org/in-focus/living-out-gods-pursuing-love-burundi).

So what drew the McLaughlins to Burundi? Friends have suggested “an amazing life experience,” or “an adventure,” or being “world travelers,” or doing “meaningful work.” But Rachel and her husband Eric agree, nothing captures the heart of it for them quite like this:  When we were far away, alienated and suffering, God pursued us with His love. And there is nothing other than this which will sustain our motivations. Laboring for the medically underserved people is a picture of the pursuing love of God for the world.

Tyler Phillips ’12 – Chasing Dreams with Innovative Minds

Tyler Phillips '12 - Totally CommittedIn April of 2014, while playing professional football for the Frankfurt Universe of the German Football League, Augsburg College alumnus Tyler Phillips ’12 was profiled by Timothy Miscovich.

The article focused on Phillips’ recent start-up, TOTALLY COMMITTED, “an inspirational/motivational company that encourages everyone to follow their dreams.” Phillips states in the article that “Football is a huge part of my life, but I have always had the mind of an entrepreneur.  I excelled in all of my business courses in college because it is a true interest of mine.  I credit my well-rounded education to my advanced knowledge of business concepts.” and provides a bit of advice for current Auggies: “My advice to any student would be to study something you’re interested in!

 

Ross Murray ’00 Shares About His Visit to the White House – Advocating for the LGBT Community

Ross Murray '00 at the White House Forum on LGBT Human RightsAugsburg alumnus Ross Murray ’00 recently attended the inaugural White House Forum on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights. Ross currently serves as the Director of News for GLAAD, a non-profit media advocacy organization for the LGBT community. Murray has also been listed by Mashable as one of 10 LGBT Rights Activists to follow on Twitter. Following the visit to the White House, we caught up, to ask Murray a few questions.

About Ross
Through my advocacy as Director of News at GLAAD, the nation’s media advocacy organization for the LGBT community, I spend a lot of time sharing the stories of a wide range of LGBT people. One of those areas has been labeled Global Voices, a program that shares the stories of people all around the globe advocating on behalf of LGBT causes, in addition to building media attention around the draconian anti-gay laws in places like Uganda, Russia, and Nigeria.

How did your invitation to the White House Forum on LGBT Human Rights come about?
The White House used the fact that June is celebrated as Pride Month, to hold a convening on LGBT and international human rights. I was invited, along with leaders from the nonprofit, advocacy, corporate, and international community. We listened to Ambassador Susan Rice and notable guests describe what the Obama administration is doing to advance LGBT and human rights abroad. We also participated in panels and breakouts to tell the administration what other steps are needed.

Ross Murray '00 with VP BidenHow did you prepare for this event?
My preparation was mainly my background working on LGBT issues globally. I felt good that I was aware of all the steps that the U.S. has taken, and what actions our leaders are still considering. I also thought that the most valuable part was listening to the LGBT advocates from Uganda, Kenya, Russia, Argentina, and China. In fact, one LGBT leader, whose work I have admired for so long, made the most memorable statement in a breakout session: “If Obama says that Uganda should not persecute gay people, then it will be seen as Western imperialism. But if celebrities like Christian Renaldo, Jay-Z, or Rihanna say the same thing, then the young people will follow what they say.”

How did your education at Augsburg College prepare you for your role at GLAAD?
My passion for advocacy really was sparked in my time at Augsburg College. My undergraduate degree in Youth & Family Ministry has been a foundation for the work that I do. I resisted being an advocate, but my time with faculty like Doug Green, Janelle Bussert, Mark Tranvik, Robert Groven, and Pastor Sonja Hagander really helped me integrate my learning and apply it out in the wider world. Then, later, when I did my MBA at Augsburg, I learned to think strategically and act smartly.

What advice would you give to current Auggies about advocacy work?
Augsburg already puts a great emphasis on engagement with the community and the world. I think that Auggies need to look inside themselves to see where that passion lies…where they are called in the world. It takes time, and no one can do it alone. I’ve been blessed to be able to follow my passion, and I encourage others to find ways that they can help make the world better for others.

Help Us Top the List Once Again – Give to the Max Day 2014

 

heart-photoVolunteer to help make Give to the Max Day a success!

Give to the Max Day is back on November 13, 2014, and Augsburg is once again vying to finish in first place among all Minnesota colleges and universities. Last year on Give to the Max Day, more than 830 Augsburg donors gave more than $313,000 for programs across campus from Campus Kitchen to Volleyball. It was the largest single day of giving in Augsburg history!

We are back at it again starting even earlier this year to make sure we soar over our competition and fund vital programs across campus! 

Are you interested in helping to make this year’s Give to the Max Day a success? Contact the Annual Giving office at 612-330-1179 or krousega@augsburg.edu. We are looking for volunteers to help reach out to alumni and friends of the College, be active on social media, help strategize for one of the projects, and plan the day’s events. If you have some passion and some Auggie Pride, we want your help!

Thanks in advance for your help on Give to the Max Day 2014!

Ben Krouse-Gagne and Martha Truax
Office of Annual Giving

 

Support for Augsburg Fund Increased by 18% in 2014

 

Donor gifts to The Augsburg Fund increased by 18% in fiscal year 2014

Augsburg’s fiscal year ended on May 31, 2014, with a strong show of donor support to the College’s annual fund, The Augsburg Fund.

More than 2,260 Augsburg alumni, parents and friends gave more than $1,125,000 to The Augsburg Fund in Fiscal Year 2014—and donors gave 18% more than in the previous fiscal year. Thank you to these many generous donors—take a look at what they made possible:

Thank you to all of the members of the Augsburg community who gave generously to The Augsburg Fund last year!

Support of The Augsburg Fund is vital to the success of the College and our students since donations are unrestricted and can be used wherever the need is greatest. The Augsburg Fund supports each academic department and each student, every day. Gifts to The Augsburg Fund allow Augsburg students to become informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.

To learn more about The Augsburg Fund or to make a gift, visit www.augsburg.edu/giving.

Alumnae Gather to Address Life’s Gripping Expectations

For the first time – Augsburg Associates and Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) came together to launch an intergenerational event for Auggie women – alumnae and friends!

251252_10150231431818361_1447867_nAuthor, speaker and former KARE 11 and HGTV personality Joan Steffend spoke with more than 100 Auggie women on campus on Saturday, May 17 to explore how women handle life’s many gripping expectations.

During Steffend’s keynote address she said she spent her first 50 years of life trying to measure up to the expectations of others at the expense of inner peace.

As a young child, the red-headed, Cambridge, Minn.-native enjoyed reading, imagining and performing, but felt guilty for not being like others. She often felt lonely and looked for ways to capture the love and attention of even those closest to her.

She studied with Warner Brothers, got married, had children, was a local- and cable-TV personality, and bought a cabin, but still didn’t feel like she was measuring up. She felt an unsettling lack of joy.

Steffend finally had a paradigm shift at age 50 after her only sister passed away from cancer. The gut-wrenching loss helped Steffend put her own life in perspective. She realized she had spent her whole life ignoring her true self and that she was ultimately responsible for her inner peace.

Steffend, now a 58-year-old author and speaker, said she doesn’t spend time apologizing for who she is anymore.

“I have my own ruler,” she said, “and I am measuring up!”

Steffend’s keynote address was accompanied by inspirational musical performances from alumnae Laura Schmidt ’11 and Becky Shaheen ’11 and thought-provoking comedy performances from the writers and actresses of “2 Sugars, Room for Cream,” Carolyn Pool ’91 and Shanan Custer.

Steffend’s story was used to kick off the table conversations where participants answered specific questions about their life’s journey so far. Attendees engaged in multi-generational small-group discussions, facilitated by alumnae table hosts, about the challenges and victories of measuring up to their own expectations and those of others.

“It was a great event to reflect on whether I am internalizing social expectations or I am living and being myself,” said one attendee.

Other attendees raved about the wonderful variety of women with whom they had a chance to ineract.

“[It was] so great to speak with other women from different walks of life,” said another attendee.

The inspirational morning was rounded out by an alumnae panel involving author, teacher and social worker Lee Furman ’61; Minnesota’s first Native American lesbian legislator Susan Allen ’92; and Vietnamese immigrant Tina Nguyen ’08. The three panelists spoke about building their faith and confidence to defy the odds of succeeding in cultures very different from their own. It concluded with meaningful reflection from Abigail Crampton Pribbenow who shared her own perspective of how she feels she is measuring up.

The “Am I Measuring Up?” event was a collaboration between the AWE Advisory Board, the Augsburg Associates Board and more than two dozen Auggie volunteers. The two boards look forward to collaborating more to provide Auggie women the opportunity to connect, learn and give.

State Grant Program Advocacy – Event Recap: Day at the Capitol

Augsburg College had 1,054 State Grant recipients on campus this past academic year—that was 34 percent of all Augsburg undergraduates. In total, Augsburg students received more than $3.4 million in State Grant awards.  In support of this program, which bridges the gap between loans, scholarships and other aid, 12 students attended the Day at the Capitol for State Grant advocacy.  These students met with Representative Phyllis Kahn and Senator Greg Clausen ’74 for a networking breakfast in the morning, and spoke with over 24 legislators throughout the day.

Yeng Vang ’14 describes how the state grant program helped him attend Augsburg, “I wouldn’t be here if not for grants and scholarships. Things like the State Grant allow you the opportunity to go to college, opening the door to future possibilities.”

If you are interested in showing your support of the state grant program, sign up to receive occasional email updates, newsletters and action alerts on important issues facing state and federal financial aid in Minnesota.