Opening Doors and Paying It Forward

RathmannThis year’s Auggie Networking Event on February 9 is the perfect opportunity for graduates of all class years and majors to connect with fellow Auggies, support student success, and build your Auggie network. This event is open to all students and alumni, and features pop-up speakers, free headshots, refreshments, and more. Beyond expanding your own alumni network, the event offers the chance to open doors for current students.

When Nick Rathmann ’03 made his way to the Augsburg campus last February for the Auggie Networking Event, he encountered blizzard conditions. But the Blake High School athletic director—not inclined toward defeat—arrived safely, only to find 250 others there as well. The popular annual event offers an evening full of connecting opportunities both for students seeking work and for alumni who can help, as well as for alumni seeking new positions.

KendallCSometime that February evening, Rathmann was introduced to Kendall Christian ’15, an Exercise Science major who was about to graduate. He discovered that she had played hockey all four years, as well as club lacrosse for two. Impressed with her professionalism and polish, as well as the description of her journey through hockey, he saw in her an ability to understand the value of the process. Her passion for sports and development was obvious to him, and he could sense she had learned some incredible life lessons, and possessed remarkable leadership skills. As Rathmann says, “Credit to Augsburg, both teachers and coaches, for her preparation. Credit to her for her motivation and focus on professional development.”

Rathmann mentioned a girls lacrosse coaching position opening up in the spring, so Christian followed up with an email, and was soon invited to the school for further discussion. Soon after, she was offered the position at Blake School, where she found amazing support for athletes and students among coaches and teachers—“professional and personable.”

Christian says, “It can be intimidating to market yourself, but Augsburg alumni are invested in helping students.” She hopes all students will use this extensive network to their full advantage.

Rathmann believes Augsburg students are inherently competitive and motivated—competitive just to get into the school, and motivated by the best traits of other students, teammates, faculty, and coaches. Those traits “rub off on you,” and you take them with you.

From the point of view of a professional alum, Rathmann says, “We have all been helped and mentored. It’s important to pay it forward when we can. A cup of coffee and a 30-minute conversation can go a long way. Augsburg grads are everywhere—and that is a great thing!”

See Kendall Christian at this year’s Auggie Networking event on February 9. As one of the evening’s pop-up speakers, she’ll share more about her story and experience as a young alumna.

—by Cheryl Crockett ’89

 

6 Quick Questions with the New Director of Auggie Engagement

Katie-KochKatie Koch ’01 joined the Alumni Relations team as Director of Auggie Engagement in January. We’re so excited to welcome this wonderful Auggie on board. She’s here to listen to you, plan alumni events, and find more ways for alumni to stay involved in the life of the College. Why not hear it straight from Katie?

What does it mean to be the Director of Auggie Engagement?
In this position I have the opportunity to connect with alumni, parents and friends of Augsburg. It’s my hope that we can continue to connect Auggies to the college, to their classmates and to fellow Auggies. As an Auggie you are important to the College, and we want to find ways to engage you, help to continue your learning, grow your network and use your talents to the benefit of Auggies.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at Augsburg?
I was involved in The Augsburg Choir, Augsburg Band and Jazz Band. I have some strong memories of times that we spent together on various tours. One that stands out to me is our joint band and choir tour to Arizona where we were snowed in in Flagstaff.

I loved being a part of Advent Vespers, especially standing all around Central Lutheran holding our candles and singing Silent Night. It still stirs up quite a bit of emotion in me.
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Designing Sustainability

Glover-for-webWhen Stephanie Glover ’98 was only five, her mother gave her a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree—in French—another of many attempts by her parents to expose her to other cultures and encourage her to try new things. Throughout her childhood, many of her friends came from different backgrounds, and diversity of experience became a given.

That way of life was reinforced at Augsburg, where she discovered that the wide cultural swath of her classmates’ backgrounds was a significant enhancement to her education in International Relations, as was her study abroad, in Aix en Provence, France.

Later, after a four-year stint of teaching in France and South Korea, Glover decided to volunteer in the Republic of Georgia—an experience that she now views as life-changing. Armed with very little knowledge about the country, she spent about a week in foreign language training, then made her way to the home of her host family, high in the Borjomi Mountains. They spoke little English, and Glover’s Georgian was shaky at best, so early days were challenging. But transformation lay ahead.

Trips down the mountain took about an hour, and consequently were infrequent. The host family owned cows, chickens, and pigs—and they grew some crops, so the food Glover ate during that year was primarily homemade and natural. She came to an appreciation for an organic lifestyle, and felt a growing concern for the impact that eating and buying habits have on the environment. Her experience in the Borjomi Mountains would eventually inform her career choice.

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Alumna Chalks Up Another Patent

Audrey Sherman pictureAs a girl, Audrey Sherman ’97 loved science classes so much that there was no hesitation when her college-student mother asked for help with her own science classes. Going to local lakes and ponds together to collect water specimens, examining them under microscopes, and then recording the findings gave Sherman a taste of what her own college experience might be like. But she didn’t expect to someday become an inventor!

One day in her junior year of high school, Sherman heard a pitch about a program that tickled that love of science—a program that would lead her to the career of her dreams. The speaker was describing the STEP program, a science encouragement program sponsored by 3M, the global St. Paul-based company famous for innovations such as Scotch tape, Post-It Notes, and over 60,000 other products.

Sherman was told that, in a 3M classroom, she and other high school students would learn from 3M scientists about chemistry, math, and polymers; learn how to do research; and at the end of the sessions, have an opportunity to interview for a full-time paid summer job in the 3M laboratories.

Becky Kreckel, the woman introducing the STEP program, described the joy of cooking with chemicals and making new molecules, outlined the opportunities that science could offer, and—the clincher for Sherman—talked about the sports car she owned. Sherman liked the idea of making new things, and being rewarded for it, and she was hooked. Continue reading

Helping the Young to Do Better and Be Better

Joshua HarrisGrowing up in Chicago, Josh Harris ’08 hadn’t heard of Augsburg before, but when Auggie Coach Aaron Griess recruited him to play basketball, he discovered a smaller school in a big city, diverse, with a sense of community—and it all appealed to him. What he ended up taking with him upon graduation, however, was beyond his expectations.

Today, Harris is working with other community leaders in Baltimore on many initiatives, including one to build a network of individuals, businesses, and organizations who can provide internships, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities for high school students, many of whom may be less than hopeful about their future. He believes that young people who have already enjoyed some level of professional success are those who can best effect change in the likelihood of success for other young people, particularly African-Americans.

Working primarily through Alpha Phi Alpha, a community-service-oriented fraternity, Harris serves as managing editor of The Sphinx, the APA’s journal about what is happening in the African-American community, and how their members impact the world around them. APA has 703 chapters worldwide (both undergraduate and alumni). The fraternity is noted as historically the first inter-collegiate fraternity founded by African-American men. Harris joined while still a student at Augsburg. The fraternity claims alumni such as former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and currently has eight members in Congress. Continue reading

Life Can Be Funny

PHOTO: Jake Stangel, Times of London

PHOTO: Jake Stangel, Times of London

For 12 years, David Raether ’78 wrote for TV comedy sitcoms, including 111 episodes of Roseanne. He absolutely loved it. It was invigorating being in “the Room” with other writers, brutally and honestly dissecting each other’s work to make sure the script was as good as it could be. Did it work? Did it follow what set it up? Did it push the story forward? Was it funny? You could write a completely brilliant draft of a script, he says—one that everyone agrees reads great—and then see it completely rewritten by the group over the week of production. If you find that upsetting or galling, says Raether, don’t go into comedy writing!

As much as he loved the work, however, the time commitment was enormous, and his family life suffered. Many nights, he would work till 3 a.m., which meant that he rarely enjoyed any family time beyond weekends. Something had to give, so he took a couple of years off to help pull the family back together—an effort that met with some success. Then, when he tried to return to TV work in 2007, he found a different landscape. Many sitcoms had been replaced by reality shows, and he had trouble finding a job, even though he had expanded his search beyond writing and editing.

Thus began what Raether calls an “incredible experience” that has shaped him in many ways. He sold off cars and other valuables to make ends meet, but sending out 2,541 resumes and applications was to no avail. Eventually, he found himself homeless. He lost his house, his career ended, his savings vanished, and his family (wife and eight kids) broke apart. The fall was tremendous. In a recent TEDxAmherst Talk, Raether talked about what it felt like not knowing where (or when) he would find the next meal, or where he would sleep that night. But in the process, he says, he discovered that he was far more resourceful and resilient than he had ever dreamed. He also learned that it is not shameful to be poor. Devastating, vulnerable, difficult, and painful, yes—but not shameful. Continue reading

Active ’69 Alumna Honored with State Award

Matty 21In her 37 year career as a coach and teacher at Shawano High School in eastern Wisconsin, Janis “Matty” Mathison ’69 made physical education into all that it could be. Like her mentors at Augsburg, she took her role in her students’ lives to heart. She knew she could give something back, and make life easier for someone else. She’s promoted health with vigor, enthusiasm, and integration in daily life in the years since she has retired.

“You make your own bed,” Mathison says, “and I really like the bed that I made.”

She had always been active in community life, but retiring gave her the opportunity to become more involved. “I find when I do something it’s pretty all-encompassing,” she says, and her involvement has been widespread and made a difference not only on individuals, but also on her community in Shawano County, Wisconsin.

matty 6 On Oct. 13, Mathison will be honored by the American Planning Association’s Wisconsin Chapter as its Citizen of the Year for the work she’s been doing in her whole life, particularly for her leadership since retiring. Her devotion to creating a healthy community comes organically, and her involvement has been widespread—from improving parks experiences, to promoting an anti-binge drinking campaign, planning safe routes to school, making school start times later, planning a regional bicycle ride, and helping to create a bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly master plan for the county. One of her nominators for the award, planner Ann Freiwald, calls Mathison a terrific instigator and motivator who leads local residents and works with planners to promote healthy living and active lifestyles in Shawano County.

Mathison serves as an Executive Board Member with Shawano Pathways, a community nonprofit tasked with planning for and facilitating the development, implementation and maintenance of a greenway and trails network within Shawano County. This year marks the third year of Bike the Barn Quilts, a supported bike tour of Shawano County that she led the effort to host. The ride attracts more than 200 participants.

Embracing All Abilities

When Mathison was growing up, she was not just a natural athlete, but a teacher as well. As the oldest of 9 children, Mathison remembers using a backyard playhouse as a play schoolhouse, and she was always the teacher.  Her parents instilled in her an ethic that may have been the best advice she’d ever received: “share, care, and play fair.”

Matty 20As a physical education teacher, gym with Mathison was as likely to involve spelunking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, and canoeing or kayaking. She designed curriculum in health and physical education to involve and challenge all students, regardless of ability or how much they liked competition or sports. Continue reading