2016-17 Interfaith Scholars

YOUSIF AL-HAJIBY ‘17Yousif Al-Hajiby

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Majors: Accounting and Finance

Professors, faculty members, mentors, and friends always make me feel like we are a big family that is trying to learn from each other at Augsburg. The strong communication between me and the professors always push me to go the extra mile. Augsburg has opened my eyes to many opportunities such as internships and potential future jobs. Also connected me with mentors that helped me to understand the work environment and how to be more productive. After graduation, I plan to work for the government and start my own company.


grace corbin ’17Grace Corbin

Hometown: Grantsburg, Wisconsin
Major: Youth and Family Ministry
Minor: Peace and Global Studies

I am involved in Campus Ministry, Campus Kitchen, and admissions tour guide. I am also in Student Government, serving as Senior Class President and on the Environmental Action Committee. I worked at the Restoration Center at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis and I studied abroad in Namibia and South Africa. Augsburg has changed me in many ways. I have become more open-minded and politically engaged. Augsburg has taught me how to be an informed, active citizen.


JEHAN ELSAGHER ’17Jehan ELSAGHER

Hometown: Burnsville, Minnesota
Major: Biopsychology

I’m currently a Hospice Volunteer through HealthPartners Hospice and Palliative Care and I volunteer in the kids department at my Church. I’m an Academic Coach at a local high school, helping students learn how to work in small groups to prepare them for college. I’m also a Personal Care Attendant, I’ve been with my client for four years and we do lots of fun activities together! After graduation I plan to go to graduate school to obtain my Masters in Counseling and become a Licensed Professional Counselor. I know that my purpose in life is to help those who are struggling with mental illness.


CLAIRE FELKNOR ’18CLAIRE FELKNOR

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Majors: Communications and Sociology

Augsburg has definitely contributed to a more holistic understanding of the world around me and it’s diverse population, all with different circumstances that shape their experiences in society. Understanding these differences is extremely valuable, especially considering my privilege. I have a weekly service commitment at a club off campus that is very near and dear to my heart. Last year, I served on StepUP’s Leadership Team and assisted in the coordination of a host of events for StepUP Students. I’m an advocate for animals and work with SecondHand Hounds as a foster for animals who are waiting to be adopted.


BLAKE A. halvorson ’17Blake Halvorson

Hometown: Faribault, Minnesota
Majors: Management Information Systems and Marketing

Community service and volunteer activities I am involved with include StepUP Leadership Team’s Trusted Servant, StepUP Solutions Board, Contact for multiple treatment center service opportunities, Interfaith Scholar, Augsburg Intramurals, StepUP Tour Guide when needed, StepUP mentor for new students, Daily Miscellaneous Service when presented with the opportunity. My proudest academic achievement was getting Outstanding Junior of the Year.


Imann hodleh ’18Imann Hodleh

Imann Hodleh ‘18

Hometown: Born in The Netherlands, Resident of Plymouth, Minnesota
Major: Political Science
Minor: Management Information Systems

Getting into the Model United Nations program was my proudest academic achievement. Prior to it I didn’t think I’d actually like it but after getting accepted into it I decided to just give it a chance. I ended up loving it and learning so much about international politics. It inspired me to want to work with foreign policy post-graduation. Taking part in the debates and discussions surrounding global affairs taught me a lot and just travelling to New York City, that experience alone opened doors for me as I got to visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters. After graduation, I plan to travel for a year, learning the history of the world. When I come back however I’d like to connect back with my supervisor from the International Institute of Minnesota and work there for a couple years, learning more about the way refugee services function on a national level. I hope to then move on to doing foreign policy work overseas regarding refugees. I’d also at some point like to aid in the rebuilding of Somalia’s infrastructure and hope to use my political and historical knowledge in doing so.


blake Miller ’17Blake Miller

Hometown: Staples, Minnesota
Major: Biology
Minor: Religion

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the intimate class setting and the ability to immerse myself in various different environments. Augsburg has taught me to always be questioning and searching for the truth, and to understand when that might not be possible. After I graduate I plan on applying to dental school and work in a biology research lab.


Danny Polaschek ’17Danny Polashek

Hometown: Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Majors: English (Literature, Language, and Theory) and Creative Writing
Minor: Business Administration

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the general inclusivity, coming here has opened my eyes and vastly broadened my horizons. During the fall semester of my junior year, I was an intern at the Ranelagh Arts Centre in Dublin, Ireland. This year, I will be working with Bob Cowgill and Doug Green on a short story collection.

 


Casey Regnier ’17Casey Regnier

Hometown: Neenah, Wisconsin
Major: Biopsychology
Minor: Peace and Global Studies

I regularly teach swimming to a multi-generational group of East African women in my local community through the Health Commons. After graduation, I plan to take a gap year and go to Physician Assistant school.

Interfaith Student Reflection by Joseph Kempf

Joseph Kempf, Class of 2016

joe-kempf

“(And Jesus Said) You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

You are…a people of faith. You are…a city on a hill. You are…the Salt of the Earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his followers salt, of all things! Don’t get me wrong, salt is delicious and needed. But we could be something great! We could be legends, we could be a mountain, instead Jesus charges us with salt. While there are numerous interpretations of what exactly is meant by being the Salt of the Earth, I personally hold this verse in the Gospel of Matthew to indicate how followers of Jesus should engage in the world. I am going to do this with a little bit of Chemistry.

I wanted to be scholarly and a little rebellious so I researched what Salt of the Earth even means. According to the Wikipedia page devoted to Matthew 5:13, it reads “Salt itself, Sodium Chloride, is extremely stable and cannot lose its flavor…(then some author notes) Jesus is ‘not giving a chemistry lesson’” I’m almost a little offended. Who are they to decide when chemistry stops. If there is one thing I learned at Augsburg…chemistry never stops. Since Jesus clearly was not teaching chemistry, I think I will step up to the plate so to speak.

I’m sure all of you are familiar enough with cooking. You know with all of your might that oil and water will never mix, no matter how much you stir. Oil is simply too big for water to take on. Long chains of carbons and hydrogens are not attractive to water’s oxygen and hydrogen combo. Maybe for too long, Christians have become oily in practice and deed. We have become too engrossed with our beliefs, what road to heaven or what does this passage actually mean. If water represents the world, sometimes we just sit on top, looking at the world below us but never submerges ourselves. We see our neighbors of various religions, but we may seldom act. What we need is a radical shift in ideas and our approach to other religions. But Jesus doesn’t call us the ‘oil of the earth’ we are the ‘salt of the earth’! You know perfectly well what salt does in water- it breaks apart and fully involves itself in waters affairs. An important thing to note is that the salt is never destroyed in this transaction. Often what holds us back from working or engaging in interfaith dialogue and service is the simple fact that we are afraid of losing our faith. Of changing for the worse or even where to begin. But of course these actions can be learned. WE are called to engage the world and serve our neighbor. How much longer are we going to separate ourselves from this sacred service?

Continue reading “Interfaith Student Reflection by Joseph Kempf”

Interfaith Student Reflection by Jasmine Eltawely

Jasmine Eltawely ’16jasmin-etlawely

Growing up as a Muslim in the US has never been an easy thing for me. I have constantly had to deal with people forming misconceptions about me due to what they’ve heard about Muslims, before they have even gotten the chance to get to know one. This led me to always feel a bit ashamed of my religious identity and I would constantly feel the need to hide it from people. Though I have always been devoted to my faith, I just felt it would be easier for people to not know I was Muslim, due to fear that I would be deemed an outcast. This caused me to never discuss religion with anyone outside of my family, and to not wear the hijab or pray in public places, up until I started attending Anoka Ramsey Community College.

There, I became involved in student organizations that dealt with interfaith engagement and dialogue. Through my experiences I was able to find that it was okay for me to be who I am and not feel like I would be judged or mistreated due to my identity as a Muslim. I was able to interact with people that didn’t have the same beliefs as me, but I could talk with them about religion in welcoming conversations to explore our ideologies. It was an amazing experience that I hoped to continue, and I was able to do just that when I transferred to Augsburg College. I was able to continue to be involved in such organizations on campus, and continue to reach out to the Muslim community and work to bridge the gaps of misunderstanding that currently exist.

Islam has always been such a key part of my life, and much of who I am is shaped by it, but it has taken me a long time to be comfortable enough to say that to others. Through interfaith engagement I have been given the opportunity to truly find who I am and not be ashamed of it. Working with students on campus to create an inclusive environment for people of all faiths has been an amazing service that I have been blessed to be a part of. Not only have I been able to give back to my community, but I was also able to learn about myself through the process. Not only is interfaith engagement very important to me, it has become a big part of my life and who I am.

I believe that God has blessed us all with many great things, things that we should never take for granted. And if we are fortunate enough to be given an opportunity that others don’t have access to, then it is our responsibility to reach out. I feel that through Interfaith engagement, I am able to do just that. I’m able to be involved in creating community amongst people in a time where conflict seems to always block understanding and hate is so easily spread. My faith has inspired me that one of the beauties of life is the diversity that we are surrounded with, and it is important that we embrace these differences rather than shame and criticize. There is an ayah in the Quran in which Allah tells the people of the Earth that He created us different so that we would get to know one another. And I feel that only with interfaith engagement can we truly strive for this universal understanding. Continue reading “Interfaith Student Reflection by Jasmine Eltawely”

2015-16 Interfaith Scholar Profiles

VISION BAGONZA ’17Vision Bagonza

Hometown: Karagwe, Tanzania
Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry, Physics
Internship experience: Mayo Clinic Biomedical Ethics Research Program & Mayo Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

My Augsburg experience has shaped me by broadening what I know, and giving me confidence to pursue higher dreams and aspirations. It also affirmed my career goals and gave me meaningful mentors and connections. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in medicine and work all over the world.


KEISHA BARNARD ’16Keisha Barnard

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Major: Sociology
Minor: International Relations
Internship experience: Program Assistant for WorldChicago; Intern for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum; Intern at Metropolitan Group 

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the strength of student groups. Augsburg has pushed me to continuously use my critical thinking skills. My proudest academic achievement so far is being the class of 2016’s Kemper Scholar. After graduation, I plan to spend a few months abroad, farming and learning about sustainable agriculture through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.


EMMA BLOM ’17Emma Blom

Hometown: Culver, Minnesota
Major: Psychology
Minor: ASL and Religion
Internship experience: Shadowed a Pediatric Speech Pathologist

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the commitment to service and inclusivity. Outside of class, I spend my time learning how to improve students’ on-campus experience through my Residence Life job, doing fun activities with my client through my personal care assistant job, and hanging out with friends and my Cross Country and Track teammates. Thanks to Augsburg, I now have a greater understanding of people. I have learned to appreciate how unique and special each soul is.


WHITNEY HEWITT ’17Whitney Hewitt

Hometown: Minocqua, Wisconsin
Major: Biology
Minor: Math
Internship experience: Mentor for the Augsburg College Youth Theology Institute

I love the small campus feel in a big city that Augsburg provides. Augsburg has changed the way I view my classroom experience, how to support myself, and how beneficial a diverse learning environment can be. After graduation, I plan to go to Physician’s Assistant school and then be a PA in a pediatrics department, specializing in newborn and toddlers.


JOSEPH KEMPF ’16joseph kempf

Hometown: Zumbrota, MN
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Religion
Internship experience: Through the Bonner Leaders Program: Young Leader’s Mentor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church; Homework Help Tutor at Trinity Lutheran Church; Interfaith Bridge Coordinator through Augsburg College

My favorite thing about Augsburg is that engaging the community is not only encouraged, but required for students. My proudest academic achievement was when a professor saw potential in me when I saw none myself. Augsburg has shaped me by inspiring me to serve the community my whole life. No longer am I just looking for a job, but a career choice that brings me to help others instead of myself.


JULIAN YIGAL KRITZ ’16Julian Kritz

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
Major: Political Science, International Relations
Minor: Spanish, Global Peace Studies
Internship experience: Executive Fellow at the Federal Executive Board of Minnesota; Minnesota Israel Leadership Collaborative Intern

Augsburg has empowered me as a leader. Specifically the small sizes and the diverse community enable me to make a difference on campus and stand up for what I believe in. I am a volunteer English tutor for Somali adults at Franklin Learning Center, a frequent speaker in the local Jewish community as well as the substance abuse recovery community, co-founder and vice president of Students Supporting Israel at Augsburg College, a Students Supporting Israel National Student Advisory Committee member, and Student Government Incumbent Senator.


REIES ROMERO ’16Reies Romero

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Major: Social Work
Internship experience: Worked with a youth group and volunteered in the food shelf at the Neighborhood House in the historic West Side barrio of Saint Paul (1 year), and currently interning at the Restorative Justice Community Action

My proudest moment was receiving an award for “Best New Club” (Save the Kids) at Augsburg and remaining on the dean’s list. Augsburg has changed my life; it has shaped me to be the best at what I do in all situations and gives me a foundation and fond memories. My love for Allah and his messenger has inspired me to apply perfection and wisdom in all that I do in life. After graduation I plan to pursue a master’s degree and continue with activism and social justice efforts.


MOHAMED NAZIH SAFI ’17Mohamed Nazih Safi

Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN
Major: Mathematics, Mathematical Economics
Minor: Management Information Systems
Internship experience: The McNair Scholars Program

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the family-like relationship developed between professors and students. In the McNair Scholars Program, I worked on a research project with Dr. Zobitz from the Mathematics Department, which involved using the Gini Coefficient to calculate carbon distribution. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in analytics or operations research. I also would like to apply to become a Fulbright Scholar and teach English in a Middle Eastern or North African country. 


DUA SALEH ’17dua saleh

Hometown: St. Paul
Major: Sociology
Minor: Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities studies
Internship experience: Summit-University Community Planning Council (District 8 of St. Paul City Council)

I am a delegate for Model United Nations, president of NAACP St. Paul Youth and Collegiate Chapter, president of the Pan-Afrikan Student Union, and coordinator of Minnesota Student Power Network. Advocating and fighting for the rights of marginalized groups has always been a principle in my life. At Augsburg, this is a core principle in both their mission statement and within the general student body. The advocacy programs and justice based groups at Augsburg correlate directly with the line of work that I am aspiring to do in the future.


NICK STEWART-BLOCH ’17

Hometown: London, UK
Major: History
Minor: International Relations                                                                           

My Augsburg experience has shaped me by allowing me to meet people from so many walks of life, and exposed me to the various experiences people here have had, expanding my sense of how diverse a community and society we are a part of. Augsburg has also helped me delve into subjects I am curious in and gain academic confidence.

Upcoming and Current Interfaith Scholars

Interfaith Scholar Group PhotoOn April 23, several of the upcoming (2015-2016) Interfaith Scholars met with the current (2014-2015) Scholars. The current scholars shared highlights and advice for next year’s cohort. The Interfaith Scholars Program is co-led by Professor Matt Maruggi and Pastor Sonja Hagander.

All are welcome for the final project of this year’s scholars:

Interfaith Community Sending for Graduates.
Thursday, April 30
6:30pm, Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center

Graduating students of all religious and non-religious identities are invited to an interfaith service celebrating your educational journey. This 45-minute service will be a special time of reflection and blessing.

Opportunity to be an Interfaith Scholar for 2015-16

Masha, class of 2013: "I serve my community because I am a Buddhist".The Augsburg College Interfaith Scholars explore religious diversity, engage in meaningful dialogue, and make an impact at Augsburg and the wider community!

Led by Professor Matt Maruggi and Pastor Sonja Hagander, Interfaith Scholars meet on Thursday nights throughout the year, earn upper level religion credit, and receive a $2000 tuition scholarship.

Students from a variety of traditions as well as the non-religious are invited to apply in order to converse respectfully with others about what they believe, why it matters, and how it propels us to service in the world. See an overview with further details about the program. Please take a look and consider applying by February 5.

The application process is available on our website.