Augsburg College student Kitana Holland ’19 has been named to the inaugural Student Advisory Board for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign, which celebrates education and elevates the voices of Gen-Z students. As one of only five college students selected to the 17-person board, Holland will advise a new public awareness campaign designed to improve college access, college persistence, and college graduation on campuses nationwide.
Holland and her fellow board members traveled to the White House on Friday, January 6, to attend the First Lady’s School Counselor of the Year Ceremony.
Holland is a first generation college sophomore from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, majoring in sociology and a minoring in religion and leadership studies. While at Augsburg she has served as a senator in the Day Student Government, an URGO research assistant, a LEAD Fellow, an Auggie tour guide, and as a member of College Possible and TRIO. Through these experiences, she has used her creativity, relationship-building skills, and process-thinking strengths to positively influence her community.
According to a news release about Better Make Room, Holland is driven by her motto, “If the opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” and aspires to help first generation, low-income, and underrepresented high school and college students push through barriers to attain a college degree.”
This week, Andy Aoki, department chair of political science and Sabo fellow at Augsburg College, was a featured analyst on Political Insider, a weekly news segment broadcast on KSTP.
Aoki joined Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota faculty member, and provided input on a variety of local and national political stories including Minnesota’s health care affordability issue and confirmation hearings for President Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet members.
Watch: “Political Insider: Exclusive Kaler Interview, Sessions Confirming Hearing” on the KSTP site.
This fall, Augsburg College hosted alumni, faculty, staff, and community members for an international travel experience that took participants to the Czech Republic and Germany, which is in the midst of a tourism boom accompanying the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The travelers visited Wittenberg, the long-time home of Reformation catalyst Martin Luther, and ventured to historic sites to learn about the origins of the Lutheran faith from Augsburg College Religion Department faculty members Hans Wiersma and Lori Brandt Hale.
Star Tribune reporter Jean Hopfensperger and photographer Jerry Holt accompanied the group to chronicle how Minnesotans are observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the “Land of Luther” in addition to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” given that religious, arts, and cultural organizations across Minnesota are planning special events and exhibits to mark the occasion.
As Hopfensperger wrote, “Luther’s legacy is particularly deep in Minnesota, and not just because of his followers’ enduring embrace of hymn fests — often followed by Jell-O and hot dish. One in four residents trace their namesake faith to the monk from Wittenberg.”
In a Star Tribune story, Augsburg alumnae Carol Pfleiderer ’64 and Kathleen Johnson ’72 described their excitement with the trip itinerary and the ways it reflects and builds upon their understanding of their faith.
The Rev. Mark Hanson ’68, the College’s Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation, was among other alumni quoted in the article. He described some of the ways the Lutheran church is using the Reformation anniversary to foster Lutheran-Catholic dialogue and to make the church accessible to all people.
Read, “Minnesota Lutherans at forefront of new Martin Luther revolution” on the Star Tribune site.
Augsburg College Professor of History Bill Green spoke to a crowd at the Rochester Art Center about what he learned while researching Minnesota’s history of race relations. Green is the author of the award-winning book, “Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota.”
KIMT-TV covered the event and interviewed Green, who described similarities and differences between the challenges faced by organizers of the state’s early Civil Rights movement and those involved with the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement.
Watch “Author discusses the history of Civil Rights in Minnesota” on the KIMT website.
The Minnesota Center for Book Arts‘ 26th Winter Book features poetry and prose by Heid E. Erdrich that explores the complex conversations between artists and viewers. Erdrich is a poet, writer, filmmaker, and mentor for students in Augsburg College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.
The Winter Book, “every-blest-thing-seeing-eye,” explores conversations between artists and viewers, imagining the varied experiences of viewing artworks in a gallery, according to a Pioneer Press article published before the book’s launch party.
Read Minnesota Center for Book Arts celebrates Heid Erdrich’s Winter Book on the Pioneer Press site.
This week, Andy Aoki, department chair of political science and Sabo fellow at Augsburg College, appeared on Political Insider, a weekly news segment on KSTP.
Aoki joined Joe Pescek, a Hamline Univeristy faculty member, and provided input on a variety of local and national political stories including President-Elect Donald Trump’s social media commentary and a potential career move for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
Watch: “Political Insider: Keith Ellison DNC Chair Interest, Vikings Suite Audit” on the KSTP site.
Augsburg College music therapy students created original compositions to help patients and families at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital get better sleep, and MinnPost recently featured the students’ collaborative endeavor.
During the 2016 spring semester, students in the Music Therapy Senior Seminar course taught by Annie Heiderscheit, director of the Master of Music Therapy program, wrote lullabies as part of a community partnership.
The music therapy students worked with music business students and their advisor, Augsburg Instructor Dain Estes, to produce high-quality recordings for use on the hospital’s network of digital, interactive health care features. Individuals can choose to play the calming tunes using devices in their hospital rooms. The Auggies’ compositions also are part of a pilot study that is exploring whether listening to music helps improve sleep quality in patients and families who use it in the pediatric intensive care unit.
“We had to spend time talking about how we use music for sleep and styles of music and specific elements within the music that we really need to leverage to help young patients fall asleep,” Heiderscheit explained to MinnPost.
Next the students began creating their original pieces, which was a complicated task, according to Estes, because the compositions included substantial tempo reductions to guide listeners into a relaxed state.
“This was an extremely difficult assignment because of how the heartbeat works,” Estes said. “Starting every song at 120 beats per minute and bringing it down to 40 beats per minute is not as easy as it sounds.”
Read “Augsburg students create music to lull pediatric intensive care patients to sleep” on the MinnPost website.
[Photo]: Music therapy major Tristan Gavin’16 records a composition for use at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
“You’d never expect to find a leafy arboretum in a high-density, high-diversity, high-traffic neighborhood,” says MinnPost writer Jay Walljasper. “But that’s exactly what Augsburg College is planning for its unmistakably urban campus in the heart of Minneapolis, which borders Fairview Riverside Medical complex, the high-rise Riverside Plaza towers, two freeways, two light rail lines, busy shopping districts on Franklin Avenue and Cedar Avenues, plus one of the largest Somali communities outside of Africa.”
Walljasper, a senior fellow for the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, described Augsburg’s ambitious plan to transform its campus into a living laboratory in a recent article on the history of the urban college, its intent to plant native Minnesota species, and its brainstorming and decision-making processes for the landscape design project.
Read: “Augsburg College looks to transform its campus into an urban arboretum” on the MinnPost site.
Donte Collins ’18 was named the “Most Promising Young Poet” by the Academy of American Poets this fall. His poem, “what the dead know by heart,” previously won Augsburg’s John R. Mitchell Prize, which qualified him for the prestigious award.
Collins is a theater major who is active in the local, regional, and national spoken word and poetry scene.
Collins told Minnesota Public Radio that he plans to use his $1,000 prize from the award to self-publish his first collection of poetry, a chapbook called “autopsies.”
President Paul Pribbenow met with leaders of the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board to discuss Minnesota’s educational achievement gap among children and youth of diverse backgrounds. The state has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, and Augsburg is working to ensure all students of academic ability have access to higher education. The College’s pledge to this work includes limited debt pathways to graduation, setting aside dedicated housing for homeless students, increasing financial aid literacy, supporting faculty in creating inclusive classrooms, and increasing access to course materials.
The College was applauded for this leadership through a compelling editorial, “Augsburg College leads the call for campus equity,” written and published by the Star Tribune editorial board on Aug. 30.
The editorial explained that Minnesota is rapidly diversifying, but increasing student diversity on college campuses involves more than waiting for more nonwhite Minnesotans to enroll. “As Augsburg College is demonstrating, academic institutions can do much to adapt their own policies and practices to educate what previously has been an underserved share of the state’s population,” the editorial explained.
Augsburg has sought to reduce barriers to college success that often impede students of color, and the College aims to not only to enroll a larger share of nonwhite students, but also to see them through to graduation.