Paying It Forward, with Gratitude

Kathryn Lange ’72 and Dennis Sonifer in Salzburg

Kathryn Lange ’72 and Dennis Sonifer in Salzburg

A few years ago, Kathryn Lange ’72 and her husband, Dennis Sonifer, decided to update their will, a process that tends to open up a variety of possibilities that aren’t necessarily on our daily radar screens. They realized it would be possible to reach out beyond family members, and agreed that supporting a college made sense, particularly since they both had enjoyed great experiences at small, church-related, liberal arts colleges. Determined to reciprocate the favor of the substantial financial aid each had received as a student, they decided to “pay it forward” and set up an endowed scholarship at Augsburg.

Currently serving as associate dean of the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in Boston, Lange has spent her entire career in higher education, including a six-year stint as director of admissions at Augsburg. Originally planning to find work directly related to her Social Work degree, she reassessed her plan when she found herself accepting various positions in higher education. Lange stresses, however, that she uses her Augsburg Social Work education every day in her work with students and faculty. At St. Olaf, she worked in housing for three years, followed by her admissions work at Augsburg, and then at the University of Minnesota, first in financial aid and then in student services in the College of Pharmacy. While at the U, she realized she liked working in the college environment and decided to earn a Master’s degree. In 2002, she and Sonifer moved to Boston for their next adventure.   Continue reading

Alum is Among Twin Cities Finest

Josh ’08 and Chelsea Krob

Josh ’08 and Chelsea Krob

It may be a bit unusual for such a young alumnus to be as active in volunteer work as Josh Krob ’08 is, but he readily admits that his employer, Wells Fargo, provides ample opportunity to do so. In addition to volunteering for charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and Feed My Starving Children, he has coached and supported various sports organizations as well. He has naturally gravitated toward hockey, the sport he played and loved most growing up; and he has helped the Eastview hockey team, Kansas City Stars, and Blake School hockey program.

Recently, another opportunity captured his imagination and passion—raising research funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He and 19 other likeminded individuals took on the challenge individually and raised more than $120,000 for CFF. Krob and the other 19 were each granted the prestigious “Twin Cities Finest” award, in recognition of their community volunteer efforts and professional growth in their fields. Continue reading

Augsburg Prepared Grammens for a Nimble Future as an Entrepreneur

GrammensWhen high-speed Internet was just catching on in Minneapolis, Justin Grammens ’96 was building his own servers and hosting e-mail, websites, and Internet radio streams in the closet of his apartment. He developed a keen sense then of the importance of keeping data secure—secure not only from hackers, but from other users on the system, and always asking himself, “How would I like my data treated?” As a software developer and entrepreneur, he knows this challenging game of cat and mouse (with online hackers) is of utmost importance in an increasingly technological world—and it’s a challenge he loves.

In 2009, Grammens co-founded Recursive Awesome, a mobile software development company that specialized in creating tablet, mobile, and web applications. The company—providing solutions for clients such as Best Buy, Thomson Reuters, and BuzzFeed—was acquired in 2011 by Code42 Software, where Grammens currently serves as engineering co-founder, working to protect the world’s data with high-performance hardware and easy-to-use software solutions. Perhaps their best known product is CrashPlan, a system that manages and protects your digital life with easy-to-use software and high-performance hardware storage. (Augsburg is among its users.)

In addition to founding many user groups, filing patents, organizing various conferences, and mentoring countless students, Grammens has recently created a publication, IoTWeeklyNews, which focuses on trends in the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT. If that phrase is new to you, you’re not alone! In a nutshell, IoT is the emerging network of everyday objects that can share information online and complete tasks while you work, sleep, or are otherwise occupied. (Think home security system that can adjust temps, turn on an appliance, open windows, etc., while you are out shopping. Oh, and then think beyond the home—cars, factories, outdoor environment, even our bodies!) The possibilities are endless! As you might expect, Grammens has a concern or two with IoT, lying primarily in the area of security and interoperability of smart sensors, and so far, there are few standards in place. Minnesota’s first IoT Hack Day was organized by Grammens. Continue reading

Hollenbeck is Nurse of the Year at Children’s

Lani HollenbeckWith two sisters and a mother as strong role models, Lani (Langanki) Hollenbeck ’77, MAN ’11 wasn’t surprised by the rewards of working with fragile newborns and their families. But, drawn into nursing after having already earned her B.S. at Augsburg in Social Work, she discovered that combining the two areas allowed her to expand her worldview practice by looking at new ways of supporting those families at a crucial time—in the midst of challenging healthcare situations.

In her work as a staff nurse at the Minneapolis-based Infant Care Center of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, she supports parents as they nurture their newborn infants. Recently named 2014 Nurse of the Year by March of Dimes neonatal, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, and Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, Hollenbeck knows it is hard for parents when births don’t go as planned or babies arrive too early, and she has always felt drawn to help them and their tiny babies. She believes these little ones deserve nurses who are committed to supporting their little bodies and souls for survival, growth, and development. Continue reading

Running the Good Race

Meghan PeytonIn fifth-grade gym class, when Meghan (Armstrong) Peyton ’14 MAL completed the Presidential Physical Fitness test along with her classmates, she came in first in the required mile event, beating all the boys. When her teacher asked if she had ever considered doing cross-country running, she said she had not, but it got her thinking. In seventh grade she joined her first cross-country team.

She continued running throughout high school, where she turned in four All-State performances in cross-country and seven All-State performances in track and field. She is the only Oregonian to have won state titles as a high school prep athlete in the 1,500-meter and the 3,000-meter events for three consecutive years. As a college student at the University of Iowa, she was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and two-time Big Ten Champion. She still holds the school record for the 1,500-meter run (4:17:41).

Though she says it took a few years to move beyond the joy of competition and actually fall in love with the sport, she is now busy making a career of it. Continue reading

The Faces Behind the Phone Call: Meet Your Augsburg Fund Callers

Augsburg Fund Student Workers

Have you gotten a phone call from The Augsburg Fund Phonathon callers this year? Maybe you enjoy hearing from them, maybe you’ve blocked them, but we know them as 16 busy students who do great work on behalf of the College, five days a week. Their goal is to raise $85,000, and are halfway there at the midpoint in our fiscal year. At the year’s end, we’d like to pay tribute to the work they do. They have talked with 1,800 alumni from calling 41,438 alumni. On Give to the Max Day, they talked with or left messages for more than 1,500 people in 12 hours. (The results paid off for the College and The Augsburg Fund. See our story on Give to the Max Day if you haven’t already heard the good news.)

We share an office with them, and their bright energy helps buoy our spirits on quiet winter nights and exciting days like Give to the Max Day. Whether or not you’re in the mood for a call from Augsburg, these callers demonstrate tireless energy and positivity year round. In addition to school work, their work here serves current and future students at Augsburg. If you haven’t received a call from one of our student callers, and would still like to make a gift to The Augsburg Fund this year, visit augsburg.edu/giving or call: 612-330-1179. Next time you receive a call, you have a 3/16 chance of knowing a little bit about who they are, and from where they’re calling. So if you see a call from Augsburg, pick it up because it is a current student—and they genuinely love talking with alumni.
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At 94, Stan Nelson Wins Gold Medal

Stanford Nelson 1942 yearbookStanford Nelson ’43, Andover, Minn., isn’t about to abandon his love of competing in sports anytime soon, even at age 94! This summer, he won a gold medal at the Minnesota Senior Olympics, shooting a 47 in the golf competition. In July 2015, he will compete in the 95-99 age group at the National Senior State Games, to be held in Bloomington, Minn. (The top three in each age category compete in the Nationals.) Participants aged 90 and over play three rounds of 9 holes, while all other age groups play three 18-hole rounds. Nelson’s caddie at the Olympics was his daughter, Cheryl Nelson King ’70, of Eden Prairie, Minn.

Stan_NelsonAs an Augsburg student, Nelson was a four-year letter-winner in football, basketball, baseball, and golf. In football he was named all-MIAC and served as team captain in 1942; in 1943, he was selected as an Honor Athlete. Continue reading

The Education that Keeps on Giving

John Baudhuin '70

As John S. Baudhuin ’70 reflects on his student years, he finds that he is increasingly grateful for what (and how) he learned more than 40 years ago—more now than ever before. This was reinforced when a friend and fellow retiree recently said he was a little jealous that Baudhuin was enjoying such a wide variety of interests in retirement—fishing, sports, opera, reading, writing, and so on. It occurred to Baudhuin that Augsburg had opened up many of these interests to him, once again solidifying his belief that a good liberal arts education doesn’t just teach someone stuff; rather, it teaches us “how to think about stuff and to find stuff interesting.” It doesn’t answer a lot of questions, but instead gives us better questions to ask. He was impressed that some professors would even give credit for wrong answers if there was evidence of having employed a careful thought process.

Seeking solid information for various papers taught persistence and resourcefulness, says Baudhuin, who once trekked to the U of M to explore its 10-story library in order to validate a single factoid for a paper. Such skills later served him well as an addiction professional, who more than once encountered a patient whose first interview was “less than truthful.” A recovering alcoholic himself, Baudhuin celebrates more than 42 years of sobriety and is “more than thrilled” to see that Augsburg has become a national leader for students in recovery with StepUP®. Years into his recovery, he was invited back to campus to teach some classes, and to consult regarding cases. He is pleased to report that the “students in recovery” concept has inspired a similar program in his home state, Florida. Continue reading

Auggie Social Worker Driven to Support

SaraKaiserMany single moms work hard to juggle child care with maintaining a home and working a regular job (or jobs), only to find they have no safety net when something goes wrong. What happens if she gets sick? If her son has trouble in school? If she loses her job? Who can she count on to back her up?

Sara Kaiser ’08, a social worker for Rice County (Minn.), has seen first-hand the need for daily support for single moms. She knows there are many resources available to help them and their children, and she is passionate about helping them make those connections, and in creating extra support. In recent years, a variety of her experiences—working for the police department, staffer at a mental health practice, social worker at an apartment complex, and volunteer at a women’s center—have given her a solid background for her current social work. In addition to helping countless families, she has convinced the mayor of Northfield to designate a month for “Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness,” and she has worked in collaboration to create a young moms’ support group, which features guest speakers, simple conversations, and activities like cooking and scrapbooking, and negotiated with local churches to offer childcare and free dinners for the Friday evening gatherings. She has discovered, particularly in her internship at the Northfield Women’s Center and her work at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, that she has found her life’s calling, and she is pursuing a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Continue reading

PHD Teams Play World’s Longest Baseball Game

RainyIt was 6 a.m. on August 3, and the Red and Blue teams were finishing their second overnight shift at the Park High School JV Baseball Field in Cottage Grove as they attempted to beat the record for the world’s longest baseball game. Having played in two hours of torrential rain the day before, they were exhausted, though playing in shifts helped. The music behind the backstop kept them alert, but some worried they might not stay awake to beat the old record of 62 hours, 32 minutes, 59 seconds. Full count, the pay-off pitch, and the batter flailed uncontrollably for strike three. Then, blaring through the loudspeakers came the sounds of M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” producing a great moment of levity and a welcome energy boost. They persevered and completed the game after 63+ hours, setting the new record for the Guinness Book of World Records. They tallied 575 runs, 293 innings, and more than 12,000 pitches!

WLBG teamBryan Ludwig ’08, who organized the event, is a head coach and general counsel for the PHD Baseball Club, LLC, which was created in 2009 by another Auggie, Brian Bambenek ‘07, and two of his friends. The idea behind PHD (pitching, hitting, defense) is for the coaches to share the love of baseball and return immense value to participating athletes in a manner that is unmatched in Minnesota, training these young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed on and off the field. (Learn more at www.phdbaseball.us.)

The “longest game” was intentionally tied to charity to provide a way to live out PHD’s mission, and to encourage the athletes to give back. Their first attempt in 2013 to break the record fell short, but they raised thousands of dollars for the Masonic Cancer Center at the U of M. The group used this year’s event to support the ALS Association Continue reading