Gift of Insurance Will Support Future Auggies

Purcell
Chris Purcell ’10

Whether in the world of commerce or philanthropy, Chris Purcell ’10 is not one to waste time. Since graduating, he has already tackled three big jobs, enough to preoccupy any young mover and shaker. Yet giving back has also been front and center, and he has had the foresight to designate life insurance policy proceeds to fund a full-ride scholarship for a future Auggie.

“Augsburg has done a lot for me, and I want to give back, especially financially since I was a beneficiary of financial aid,” he says. “Another way is to go back and network, and I encourage my classmates to do so, too. One of the most valuable things we can offer is our networks, to bring more Auggies into good companies.”

Purcell works for Amazon, most recently in Seattle as a buyer on the men’s fashion team, but soon in New York City as an advertising strategist. Amazon recruited him from Target, where he worked after a stint handling mergers and acquisitions for a now-defunct Minneapolis investment bank.

“I saw myself going out to Wall Street, so I started out as a finance major and then added economics,” says Purcell, who grew up in Northfield, the son of a carpenter and a middle school math teacher who strongly encouraged his educational aspirations. Recruited as a baseball player and the recipient of a Regents’ Scholarship, he loved moving to the big city and finding such a diverse, inclusive community within it.

“Augsburg feels much bigger than what it really is. You have a very small community right there on that three-square-block campus, but so much is going on all around you,” he says. He also discovered “phenomenal professors” such as Keith Gilsdorf and Stella Hofrenning, found a “very inspirational mentor” in Marc McIntosh, and treasures the formative advice he received from baseball coach Keith Bateman.

“He used to say, ‘Life’s not fair, I’m not fair, deal with it.’ Those words have helped immensely in getting me through tough situations,” says Purcell. “Augsburg helped me build my social abilities, which is extremely important in any corporate environment, and gave me critical reasoning ability. That’s the huge benefit of a liberal arts background. You learn things outside your main focus, and you learn to understand broad concepts as well as the specific issues you’re taught to deal with.”

His insurance gift will help a future student, preferably a baseball player with an interest in business, learn to navigate obstacles like the ones Purcell encountered when trying to break into the post-recession job market. Despite the bleak prospects, professors, mentor and coach urged him to keep fighting until he found something. That is exactly what he did.

“Augsburg set me up really well,” he adds. “Go Auggies!”

Endowed Scholarship Inspired by Study Abroad

 

Miriam Peterson1
Miriam ’68 and Ron Peterson on a trip to Asia in October 2015.

“What an opportunity for me! The most incredible thing is that I’m going to be able to meet the people,” says Miriam Peterson ’68, who is donating her IRA distributions to fund the Miriam Cox Peterson Scholarship. Soon there will be enough to cover travel and study abroad for a scholarship student, preferably one studying Spanish or another language. Peterson will not only get to meet the recipients, but also share the stories that have inspired her for seven decades so far.

Peterson grew up in St. Paul, where her wanderlust and appetite for learning began early. Her father, who had grown up in poverty but saw the world while serving in the Navy, nourished his family’s cultural curiosity. For example, he assigned a theme to their annual vacations; their “Lincoln year” meant travel to various Lincoln tourist sites.

At school, second grade was Peterson’s “golden year. I had the most wonderful teacher. Our whole class went by train to Red Wing for a day, and she would do all sorts of special projects. She only taught for one year, but she’d have reunions with our class, and I kept in contact with her through high school. She and her husband ended up being missionaries in Hong Kong.”

The teaching seed firmly planted by high school graduation, Peterson discovered Augsburg: “comfortable, welcoming, and ever so much better than the other colleges I visited.” The first in her family to attend college, she majored in English and education but also wanted to continue her high school Spanish. She was thrilled that classes were small and weekly seminars were held in teachers’ homes. “It’s not the norm. I was a part of their lives, and they were a part of mine,” she says.

Miriam and Ron Peterson with Shanghai in the background.
Miriam and Ron Peterson with Shanghai in the background.

For eight weeks between her junior and senior years, and for a year after college graduation, she lived in Mexico, thus paving her future path. “That made all the difference,” she says. “It widens your whole perspective on the world. You can talk about or think about travel, but if you go to another place, it’s different.”

After earning her master’s degree at the University of Illinois, Peterson taught Spanish in the St. Paul Public Schools from 1970 to 2005. She followed her early mentor’s footsteps, taking her students on trips and teaching them language not just through studying grammar, but through culture, cooking, holiday traditions, even soccer. Even after she retired and taught weekly beginning Spanish classes at the Center for Global Education, she used Fisher-Price little people and Monopoly money to set up play scenarios and make classes fun, which her adult students very much appreciated.

Peterson stays fluent by translating, once during a medical mission to Nicaragua, and, while visiting a Spanish-speaking country, “talking to everyone in the market,” as her patient husband, Ron, sometimes complains. As head of the outreach committee for Galilee Lutheran Church, Roseville, she has also visited students in Tanzania, where she was impressed by the generosity of those who have so little.

She is also impressed by Augsburg’s continuing commitment to service here at home. “They embrace the city—tending gardens, feeding people, using their proximity to the University of Minnesota to good advantage. And the second chances they’re giving to students are pretty remarkable,” she says. “It makes me proud to be a part of it.”