When Janeece (Adams) Oatman ’05 worked with a late-phase clinical research company, she shared some lab results with a potential study participant. Picking up on one indicator that could be a sign of high blood sugar, she urged the woman to undergo a diabetes test. A week later, Oatman found a voicemail from the woman, who had gone to the doctor to be tested and, indeed, received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. She said the doctor had told her that she should be grateful to know she had the disease so that she didn’t end up having complications, like losing a limb. “You saved my life,” she said in the voicemail.
Oatman contemplated the situation and decided to call the ADA (American Diabetes Association) and ask for a job. As a pre-med graduate, she had both the passion and desire to better the lives of other people and knew that raising money to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes would be a fulfilling career. Although the ADA didn’t have a position immediately available for Oatman, eventually a spot within the Tour de Cure team opened up, and she got the job.
Oatman has now been employed with the ADA for approximately nine-and-a-half years and is currently the Development Director and the Director of the Tour de Cure. She still harbors the same passion for curing diabetes today, as she did the day she started.
“Thirty million Americans have diabetes,” she continued, “and an additional 84 million have pre-diabetes (meaning they are at a significant risk of developing type 2 diabetes within ten years.) Why wouldn’t we want to find a cure for an illness that affects so many people?
It’s a scary reality that every 21 seconds someone will hear the three words that will change life as they know it: You have diabetes.”
“Augsburg was instrumental in shaping my values, including a deep sense of community and stewardship. The fact that my career path brought me to a non-profit is a testament to Augsburg’s emphasis to serve others” said Oatman, regarding her time working with the ADA.
Oatman has remained active within the Augsburg University community and is a member of the Alumni Board. When asked what she loves the most about Augsburg, Oatman replied “Augsburg is a second home to me. It’s a place I love to go back to as in my mind it represents faith, family, and friends.”
On Saturday, June 2, 2018, the Tour de Cure will take place at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. Tour de Cure is a fundraising event, where participants bike-ride, run or walk to raise money and show support for all people living with diabetes.
For more information on how to sign up for the Tour de Cure, click here, contact the Augsburg Alumni Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janeece Oatman directly at email@example.com.
Beth Florence ’08 was an Augsburg golden girl, from a family filled with Auggies, with a glowing reputation as both a campus leader and a hard worker. Florence, a Spanish major, made such an impact in her time at Augsburg, she received the Marina Christensen Justice Award for her civic engagement when she graduated. Florence later attended the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies. She is currently employed at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
Aaron Wells ’08 was recognized around campus for being incredibly funny. In addition to writing many hard-hitting stories for The Echo, he also penned the popular, joke, horoscopes which caught the eye of Florence (“I just thought they were hilarious”). Wells balanced his love of fun, by working hard and completing his Political Science degree in 2008.
He later attended Washington and Lee School of Law and is a partner at STG, a policy and public affairs consulting firm.
Wells and Florence were introduced eventually through a mutual friend and developed their own friendship at Augsburg. This friendship eventually blossomed into a romantic relationship in 2013.
When the time was right, Wells knew the perfect location for the proposal to Florence was the Christensen Center on August 12, 2017. She said yes! The couple now live together in Washington D.C. and they embody the true spirit of Augsburg both individually and as a couple.
“All we do, we credit to Augsburg,” they agree. “We credit our strong moral and personal compasses to the time we spent at Augsburg. Nothing else measures up to it.” Both Wells and Florence acknowledge that the time and effort they spent searching for perfect jobs stemmed from the emphasis on vocation at Augsburg. They are both in careers that are service focused and continue to serve the community around them.
Augsburg University wishes Wells and Florence all the best for the future, and we are touched that Augsburg University has played such an integral part in their story.
Both Wells and Florence will be attending our exclusive regional alumni event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sunday, May 20, 2018, in Washington D.C. We invite you to join Augsburg, President Paul C. Pribbenow, members of Augsburg staff and Wells and Florence for this evening of exciting conversation and connections. For more information on this event click here.
Amanda Stramer ‘12 was named recently to the Florida High Tech Corridor’s 2018 “Faces of Technology,” which represents more than 252,000 scientists and technologists. Stramer earned this distinction through her innovative work in the development and commercialization of cancer immunotherapies.
For three years, Stramer has worked at Iovance Biotherapeutics in Tampa, FL. Currently a process development associate scientist, she works to develop immuno-oncology therapies, called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), to fight aggressive cancers.
Stramer says she chose to study at Augsburg because it was the most diverse private school in Minnesota*, and was small enough to provide for enhanced learning that can result from significant relationships with professors and classmates alike. Stramer graduated with a BS in Biology and Philosophy and was a lead volunteer at the Campus Kitchen. She has found that she can thrive in a small and intimate work environment, such as the one at Iovance Biotherapeutics, thanks to the study habits she developed at Augsburg.
Within a week of graduating from Augsburg, Stramer was offered a job. She immediately moved to Florida, where she started her career as a microbiologist at a small biotech company in Sarasota.
When asked if she could offer any advice to current Auggies, Stramer said, “Although there is always talk about academic careers following STEM programs, the science industry is so huge and versatile; Auggies should never fear to branch out.”
Stramer is a fantastic example of an Auggie making a difference, and Augsburg can take pride in its diverse alumni base, which includes a wide range of professions and accolades.
Do you know a great Auggie who should be in the spotlight? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Augsburg University was the most diverse private school in Minnesota at the time of Stramer’s application.
Many special moments took place at the Grand Opening of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Thanks to more than 1,200 donors and alumni, Augsburg is providing today’s students with new laboratories, study rooms, flexible classrooms for hands-on learning, and open places for dialogue and debate.
Please enjoy these photos of the new spaces in the Hagfors Center where Auggies will develop into scientists, business people, and believers who make a positive impact on our community and in our world. You will sense a deep connection to Augsburg’s foundation and core identity of deep traditions: durable faith, inclusion, and experiential learning.
Augsburg has always been a college sustained by people like you, who care deeply about this place, and who generously ensure it can embody its mission. Please consider continuing that tradition and getting involved in Augsburg’s next campaign. To find out how to be a campaign insider, please contact Heather Riddle, Vice President for Advancement, email@example.com.
Many adults would likely freeze in place if asked to teach a middle school class, much less try to interest those students in theater. Then there are those special people for whom such work just comes naturally. Ertwin “Ert” Jones-Hermerding ’69 was such a person.
Ert’s Augsburg mentor, the late Ailene Cole (who taught theater at Augsburg for 29 years), saw it early on, insisting that his talent was definitely with the younger kids—the high-schoolers, sure; but more so, the younger ones. It was at Augsburg that Ert knew he wanted to be a teacher.
Football and Theater
When Ert found an opening for a speech teacher at Plymouth Junior High in the Robbinsdale, Minn., school district, he jumped at the chance because it gave him the opportunity to also coach football. As a speech/communication teacher and football coach in Robbinsdale for 34 years, Ert endeared himself
to countless junior high (middle school) and high school students, and many of them went on to pursue interesting professional careers due to his strong influence. His students included Darcey Engen ’88 (Theatre Arts professor at Augsburg), Mad TV’s Mo Collins, and actor Steve Zahn, who once donned a curly wig in junior high and did a memorable, gut-splitting impersonation of TV exercise personality Richard Simmons.
“Herm,” as he was affectionately known by his students, found ways to interest athletes in the drama program, and speech students in the football program, increasing the pool from which to draw and surprising many students who may not have otherwise considered such involvement.
Herm was, most notably, the first to teach improvisational theatre at the junior high level, creating a new model that was replicated in many other schools. When he died suddenly in a one-vehicle motorcycle accident two years after retiring, the online posts from former students said it all—“Brought me out of my shell.” “Favorite teacher.” “Made learning fun.” “Creative and passionate.” “I was fat and unpopular…he cast me in the lead…he lit me up.” “Great mentor to so many kids.”
Herm’s students would often sit together at school lunch to write their own plays. With parental permission to miss some school, they would crowd into a conversion van to take their shows to local elementary schools. Using only milk crates as sets, and maybe a mic for the narrator, they often drew huge groups of youngsters.
When asked how her late husband came to have such a heart for young people, Pat Jones-Hermerding says she isn’t sure how you can understand what’s at someone’s core, but she knew Ert had found his calling. He opened up his ideas to his students, and he had the kind of personality to which they gravitated—a big personality that could take over a room. Everything became a story, says Pat, and it usually grew into an even bigger story. He was energetic and funny—and fit right in with the kids. She takes special pleasure in reminders of Ert’s legacy, particularly when encountering former students who have gone into theater, or played sports for a college, or become teachers.
The Apple Tree
In October, when more than 20 family members and friends of Ert gathered next to Foss Center to dedicate a young apple tree in his memory, those attending were unaware of the tree’s interesting history. They were just grateful for the tree’s healthy start, and for the opportunity to designate a different tree on campus since the tree they had originally dedicated to Ert’s memory in 2009 had become diseased and died.
The history of the replacement tree, they later learned, was tied to Augsburg student Emily Knudson ’15, who had planted three apple trees as part of her senior Keystone p
roject. With this project, and through the Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program, Knudson was able to enter the network of hundreds of other tree owners and volunteer gleaners statewide who donate tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit each year to local food shelf partners. The newly placed plaque by the tree honors both Knudson’s project and Jones-Hermerding’s memory.
The Auggie Friendships
Among those who gathered at the tree’s dedication were two of Ert’s long-time Auggie friends, Glen J. Peterson ’69 and Karl Sneider ’71. All three had been members of Gamma Phi Omega, a campus/community service fraternity active on campus in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Though participation in athletics was not a requirement for membership, many Gammas were involved in sports, which served to deepen many of the friendships. Peterson says that he and Ert were dorm mates as freshmen, and decided to join a third friend to live in a house by Riverside Park for their remaining three years. Peterson chuckles as he recalls that, since there were only two beds in the house when they moved in, Ert was content to sleep temporarily on a mattress on top of the kitchen table.
As Peterson reflects on those college days, he is reminded of how diligent a student Ert was, studying long hours for his language course. He was introspective, hard-working, and intense—in the best sense of that word—and those qualities applied to all areas of his college life: academics, football, track, and theater. He also exerted outsized influence in the life of his young brother, Mike.
If Peterson were to summarize Ert’s legacy in a few words, “integrity” would quickly come to mind. Ert was honest and trustworthy, says Peterson, and dedicated as an educator and as a person. Then he adds, “People would strive to be like him because Ert was adamant about caring about people.”
Augsburg celebrated the holiday period in true Norweigian style, and nearly fifty Augsburg Associates volunteered at the 2017 Velkommen Jul festivities on December 1. Many volunteers were busy putting in extra days to make special Norwegian treats, and arrived early to help butter bread and lefse, and ensure that the event was a huge success.
There was exceptional student participation, including the Associates scholarship students who served waffles to hungry patrons. The event celebrated long-standing Augsburg friendships, and encouraged guests to create new friendships from our diverse community. Guests expressed their appreciation with kind words and contributions, and the scholarship baskets gathered a superb $1190.
Mike Scott ’71 admits that talking about friendship isn’t his strongest point, but he’s more than happy to acknowledge that his Augsburg friendships were the best part of his Augsburg experience. Mike and four of those Auggie friends—Larry Stewart ’72 , Tim Casey ’71, Mike Good ’71, and Bruce Santerre ’71—have maintained communication since graduation, and their friendship has survived the test of time. As a group of five, the men have put a priority on keeping in touch; they have celebrated marriages together, consoled each other in difficult times, and gotten to know each other’s children. As far as friendships go, these men share a connection so strong they consider themselves ‘almost’ family.
When Four Became Five
In the fall semester of 1967, the academic year was pushed back for a short period of time to accommodate the completion of Urness Tower. All non-commuting football players were accommodated in Memorial Hall until the semester started and they could be placed in permanent residence halls. It was there that Mike Scott met his very first college roommate, Larry Stewart, as well as Tim Casey and Bruce Santerre, who roomed next door. Besides playing football, the men shared another common thread; they were all from rural out-state. The four men connected as teammates, as neighbors, and by their rural upbringings—and they became friends. When the fall semester eventually started, the four were moved to Mortensen Hall where they would be living on a full-time basis. As chance would have it, on moving day Mike Scott encountered a familiar face and an old acquaintance, Mike Good. The young men had met years earlier through coincidence, when Mike Good was visiting family in Mike Scott’s hometown of Renville. If this was not surprising enough, the men discovered that Mike Good had been assigned to be Tim Casey’s roommate. This sealed the deal; the initial group of four quickly became five and a friendship blossomed that would span the course of the rest of their lives.
As the delayed academic year trickled into summer, on one lazy afternoon when they were feeling bored and desperate for entertainment, the five men, along with some fellow Mortensen Hall buddies, decided to take a hilariously posed photograph where they flexed their arm muscles or “guns.” Little did they know at the time that this photograph would be the start of a picture-taking tradition that would mark the significant times of their lives, like weddings and reunions.
Throughout college, the five either lived together, or within one house of each other. As life took them on their individual journeys, they continued to support each other and strengthen their friendship. From babysitting one another’s children, to taking on important duties for each other (Larry is the godfather of Mike Scott’s son, Kelley), to incorporating spouses and ‘special’ friends – their friendship has never wavered.
Today, although the friends are not physically together (due mainly to career paths that led each to his own location), the group continues to share an incredibly strong bond. At the 2017 Augsburg University Homecoming in October, the five men reunited for another photograph. Although time has changed the faces in the photographs, the deep friendship of these funny freshmen who were inspired by boredom to take a silly photograph in 1968, lives on.
The Augsburg University Alumni team are serving up a slice of fun! Come and join us at Tony nominated musical “Waitress” on Wednesday, November 22 at Orpheum Theater. Featuring music and lyrics by 6 time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, the show is guaranteed to be a great time– and at $34 per ticket, this deal is as sweet as pie!
Starting at 6 p.m. we will be hosting a pre-theater reception at the Brave New Workshop with plenty of pie, soft drinks and a cash bar. At this reception we will be hosting a talk by Theater professor, Darcey Engen ’88, on the significance of “Waitress” serving up Broadway’s first all-female creative team.
This is an event you wont want to miss– described by Vanity Fair as “a black-and-white cookie where the comic and tragic edges touch but don’t mix” where “you’re laughing one minute… [and] you’re engaged with the difficult things these characters are going through the next”.
Tickets for this event are unfortunately sold-out but if you’re interested please call Becky Waggoner on 612-330-1085 to be put on the wait list!
A Twin Cities holiday tradition that is not to be missed- the Guthrie Theater continues their holiday tradition for the 43rd year.
On Tuesday December 12, the Augsburg Alumni team will be hosting a special Auggie pre-theater reception before the show, which will take place in the Guthrie Theater Target Lounge at 6 p.m., with yummy appetizers and a chance to celebrate holiday spirit with old friends and new!
A miserly and miserable man, Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug,” until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. Through a restless night, the spirits show him happy memories from his past, cruel realities from the present and the grim future should he continue his cantankerous ways– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a perennial favorite.