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No Time Limit on Returning to College

Headshot of Kevin FjelstedKevin Fjelsted ’18, MBA ’20 is one of many Augsburg students who graduated during the pandemic. However, Kevin’s higher education story has a unique beginning. While most of Augsburg’s recent graduates started their higher education in the last four or five years, Kevin started in 1973.

Kevin graduated from high school in the 70’s and as he thought about college, he wasn’t particular about where he would go. He admits he wasn’t heavily involved in picking Augsburg.

“My grandparents wanted me to go to Augsburg. They told me to look at Augsburg and I said ‘fine,’” says Kevin.

He started at Augsburg in 1973 and took a few classes during the fall and January interim semesters. But Augsburg didn’t have what Kevin was looking for at the time, so he transferred to the University of Minnesota in 1974 where he also worked at the U of M’s Computer Center.

Shortly after, Kevin began working full-time as an operating systems programmer at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Over the next fifteen years, he worked for a few companies – including IDS Financial Services, McGraw-Hill, and American Express – before going out on his own as a systems consulting and programming service provider. He took computer science courses here and there, but never focused on a degree because he was working full time.

In 2010, Kevin decided to go back to school and finish his degree in computer science.

“My default was to go back to the U of M,” says Kevin. “But there were two problems. One, the lecture size. There were over 100 people in my computer science classes. And two, I needed accessibility. I needed books in braille and although the U of M has a large disability resource center employee count wise, they didn’t have the experience accommodating a blind person.”

Kevin knew Kathy McGillivray from the National Federation of the Blind, and knew she was the director in Augsburg’s CLASS Office.

“We talked about smaller classes that were actually taught by the professors, unlike the U of M having Teaching Assistants do a lot of the teaching. Kathy knew what I needed for accommodations as well. She was an ally in the whole process. We worked together through accessibility for both my computer science undergraduate degree and the MBA program. Once we got that solved, it was great!”

Kevin completed his undergraduate computer science degree in 2018 and immediately started in Augsburg’s Master of Business Administration program, graduating in the winter of 2020.

Now he is working with a business colleague on building a couple company’s telecommunications space and Voice over Internet Protocol and Omnichannel call center solutions. Kevin is also excited about starting an A.I. venture in the near future.

Despite the process taking almost 50 years from start to graduation, Kevin is thankful for his time at Augsburg. He’s particularly thankful for the professors he studied with.

“I didn’t have a single negative experience with a professor at Augsburg, even going back to the 70’s. I had a great calculus professor and psychology professors. George Dierberger, the MBA director, has pulled in great adjunct professors who are the best in the industry. You can respect and trust the information from the professor because they have the knowledge and industry experience.”

When asked why others should consider a degree in computer science at Augsburg versus another university, Kevin pointed out that Augsburg uses the same program as the U of M for their undergraduate computer science program.

“They use the same textbooks, the same curriculum. At the U of M, you have 100 plus people in a class, but shrink that down to 25 people at the high end at Augsburg, and that is a significant difference. Yes, Augsburg has teaching assistants and tutors like the U of M, but they don’t have the same concept where the professor pushes all the work onto the teaching assistant. At Augsburg you have direct interface and direct communication with the professors.”

Activism Through Art

 

Silent Fox and Olivia House standing in front of a 3 panel photo banner of an art exhibition they worked on with the U of M.
Silent Fox and Olivia House at an art exhibition they worked on with University of Minnesota Graduate students.
A billboard with the text that reads "we're in a 400-year long war with no end in sight." A prominent black fist is featured in the middle with the word "FIST" running vertically down the forearm. It is accompanied by smaller multi-colored fists and George Floyd's name is shown on a sign one of the hands is holding. In the background are green hills that feature black trees and red and blackened flames. A blue banner runs across the bottom saying Black Artist Collective @13.4 Collective and it also says paid for by Augsburg University
Billboard created by Silent Fox and Olivia House with copywriter Jalen Cannon.

About a year ago, Olivia House ’20 and Silent Fox ’18 were approached by their art advisor at the time, Christopher Houltberg. He wanted to know if Silent and Olivia would be interested in doing an art project through a grant provided by the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation. For them, it was an easy thing to say yes to.

“Right away, we knew we wanted it [the art] to have more than one output,” said Olivia.

Silent majored in Studio Arts and Graphic Design and Olivia majored in Graphic Design. Their time at Augsburg gave them the opportunity to meet various studio artists, explore their interests, and take a hold of their agency as artists. With graduation only shortly behind them, they are already establishing their artistic careers and sharing their experience about a recent project they completed in partnership with Augsburg.

Both Augsburg and the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation supported Silent and Olivia’s idea to expand their work beyond the singular campaign. Part of the grant went to the billboard art and the other half went to starting a Black Arts Collective, 13.4 Collective. As the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder was approaching, they wanted to create a piece that commemorated that historic moment.

“My goal was to vocalize the black experience in America and show authenticity to our lives,” added Silent.

Translating a powerful message into art may not be innately ingrained in all artists, but for Silent and Olivia, activism is at the core of their work.

“For me, activism is naturally intertwined into my art. It’s part of me, my history, and my community. I can’t imagine it not being part of my work,” reflected Silent.

“I take a lot of inspiration from Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party’s designer,” Olivia added. “He knew how to create messages succinctly and that were accessible to people by using a lot of imagery and minimal words.”

As they created the ad campaign, they aimed to keep the art somewhat ambiguous and make others think about the deeper meaning. The billboards went up for the Juneteenth holiday and will be taken down in mid-July. Check out the locations their art is displayed.

In addition to their billboard campaign, Olivia and Silent shared their excitement about the future of the 13.4 Collective and other work they completed together. They recently wrapped up an outdoor exhibition they worked on with some graduate students at the University of Minnesota that touched on the history of mutual aid in the Twin Cities (top picture). Silent, Olivia, and Jalen Cannon (copywriter for the billboard), serve as contributors to the 13.4 Collective. They hope to continue expanding their reach with each project and sharing the messages behind the stories of the black community.

Augsburg Alumna Joins U of M’s Board of Regents

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 (Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic)
Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74
Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 has been elected to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, representing the First Congressional District. She credits her time on Augsburg’s board as a major contribution to her being elected to the U of M’s board.

Augsburg University

Ruth had a number of influences that led her to choose Augsburg as an undergraduate. She grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs, so she knew of Augsburg. Her family was also active in their large, vibrant Lutheran congregation, where Dr. Ted Hanwick, Augsburg’s first chairman of the Physics Department, was also a member. Ruth sought a college with excellent academics, a Lutheran faith background, with a preference for an urban location. Dr. Hanwick encouraged her to explore Augsburg.

Halfway through her senior year of high school, Ruth’s father passed away. During his illness, she spent time in hospitals with her father. Also, since age 16, she had worked in the hospital pharmacy where her father was Chief of Pharmacy. All these experiences pivoted her interests to pre-med.

“My first love was languages and I planned to pursue a Ph.D. in English or Spanish. But all I saw in hospitals moved me to a career in medicine. There’s so much a person can do in terms of advances in science and in patient care, all of which can make such a difference in people’s lives,” says Ruth.

After graduating summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and biology and a minor in religion, Ruth went on to graduate from Mayo Medical School and completed her internal medicine residency at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Ruth was the first woman associate director of the Internal Medicine Residency program at Mayo Clinic and chaired the Bioethics Courses at Mayo Medical School. She later devoted 17 years to the Mayo Clinic MD-PhD Admissions Committee. She founded the Mayo Diagnostic Breast Clinic in 1993. It was shortly after this that then Augsburg President Charles Anderson invited Ruth to join the Board of Regents. Dr. John Holum, an Organic Chemistry professor and one of Ruth’s favorite professors at Augsburg, recommended her.

“I thought, ‘I love Augsburg and this is a great chance to re-engage in a new way and contribute to the college.’ It was a very meaningful experience,” says Ruth.

Early on in her stint as a board member, Ruth was involved in the fundraising and celebration of the Lindell Library, which opened in 1997. By the late 90’s, she was helping with foundational work that would lead to the creation of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Among the work Ruth is proudest of during her time as a Regent is sparking the idea for Augsburg’s Rochester Campus.

“My work with nurses at Mayo Clinic made me aware that many nurses in Rochester were certificate RN’s without a baccalaureate degree. Because of this, their career advancement was limited and there was no readily available way to complete a BSN. Augsburg’s Weekend College had already had years of experience offering degree programs for adults. I went to then President Bill Frame and suggested Augsburg create a degree program in Rochester.”

University of Minnesota

In 2020, Ruth was approached by the alumni and friends of the University of Minnesota to join their Board. Her educational leadership at Mayo Clinic was well known, as was her 16 years on Augsburg’s Board of Regents.

“When you’re on a board, it’s about governance, higher level, big picture thinking. It’s not managing, that’s the administration’s job. My 16 years with three different presidents at Augsburg meant I knew how a board functions, this was a strong background for me,” says Ruth. “Augsburg also has a really excellent reputation among legislators, they know Augsburg has done good work and they know those values are part of my work.”

Ruth was elected in a joint legislative session held on March 15, 2021 for a six-year term.

Augsburg will always be part of Ruth’s life, though. At Augsburg, Ruth loved getting to know fellow regents, alumni, faculty, and students. Ruth is also married to Phil Quanbeck II, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Augsburg University.

“It’s a great place and a privilege to be involved with such an incredible group of people.”

She is now looking forward to her work with the U of M, and to connecting to the people she will work with over the next six years.

Auggie Starts National Hockey Award

Charles "Chuck" Bard '50
Charles “Chuck” Bard ’50

Growing up, Chuck Bard was an all-around sports enthusiast. He played football, basketball, baseball, and even won a few championship titles in beanbag toss and horseshoes. At Augsburg, Chuck was a letterman in football and baseball and received an athletic sweater with recommendations from the athletic director and football coach in 1948. He played second base on Augsburg’s 1947 and 1948 MIAC Conference Baseball Championship teams. However, the sport that Chuck loved most – and the sport that gained him the most notoriety – was a sport he never played: hockey.

Hockey was a relatively new sport when Chuck was in school. By the time he started college, Augsburg had a hockey team, however Chuck was already playing football and baseball and student-athletes were allowed to only join two sports at the time. This did not hinder his love of hockey, though. Chuck attended as many Auggie hockey games as he could and enjoyed watching the players out on the ice.

Chuck had a successful athletic college career in football and baseball at Augsburg, as well as a successful academic career. After graduating in 1950 with a degree in Physical Education and a minor in Journalism, Chuck went into banking.

“I was active at the YMCA, where I met two bankers one day. They were asking for army guys such as myself to come in for training. I figured as long as I’m here, I might as well interview. I interviewed and that evening I got a call from Northwestern Bank offering me a job. I took it! I was a banker for twenty years,” says Chuck.

Chuck continued his passion for sports by co-founding the Decathlon Athletic Club in the late 60’s. Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, it was the first private athletic club in Minnesota outside of downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul.

“We had the former executive of the St. Paul Hotel with us for six months to help with strategy, but he said the club would never run in the suburbs because all the clubs were downtown.”

Chuck made sure the athletic club opened and he spent the next twenty years turning it into a success.

In 1978, Chuck was the CEO of the Decathlon Athletic Club. He was still an avid hockey fan and a proud owner of Minnesota North Stars hockey season tickets. But he noticed hockey didn’t have a collegiate award to honor the best collegiate hockey players in the nation like other sports.

“Football had the Heisman Award. Basketball had the Wooden Award. What about hockey?”

Hobey Baker Award trophy
Hobey Baker Award trophy

Chuck decided his athletic club would start a nationally recognized hockey award. After consulting with the Los Angeles athletic club that started the Wooden Award, Chuck established the Hobey Baker Award, named after hockey legend Hobey Baker. Chuck was captivated with Baker’s athleticism. Baker was an All-American football and hockey player, and was the first American hockey player to be enshrined in the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame.

In 1981, the first Hobey Baker Award was given to Neil Broten. Broten played Center for the University of Minnesota and the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team, which took gold at Lake Placid in 1980.

Since that first award, The Hobey has been awarded to 40 hockey players from around the country. The award is given to a player who best demonstrates “teamwork, dedication, integrity, exceptional play, humility, and above all, character.”

In 2007, Chuck returned to his alma mater to honor Augsburg men’s hockey coach, Ed Saugestad, as a Hobey Baker Legends of Hockey honoree.

In the early 2000’s, Chuck took a deep look into his program to evaluate how things were going. One step he took to ensure the award’s longevity was to hire a new marketing and public relationship programmer, Wally Shaver. Wally was no stranger to hockey and was an ideal candidate according to Chuck. Wally has been the voice of the University of Minnesota’s Gopher hockey for years, following in the footsteps of his father, Al Shaver, who was an announcer for the Minnesota North Stars.

“I got a phone call from my friend, Herb Brooks, who was a member of the Decathlon Club. The Hobey Baker people wanted a change with their marketing. It was all in-house with Chuck in the beginning,” says Wally. “Herby gave me a call and said I should talk to them. I said, ‘Geez I’d love to help any way I can!’”

Incidentally, Wally also had a connection to Augsburg. His son, Jason Shaver, was a hockey goaltender for Augsburg in the early 90’s.

“The Hobey Baker Award is a fun project to work on. It’s unique. What the Heisman is to football, the Hobey is to hockey,” says Wally. “It’s a prestigious award and everyone loves it. Especially the kids, they appreciate recognition for all their hard work during the season.”

While the award remains true to its original vision – to recognize the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player in the nation – it has evolved over the years. What started as one trophy for college hockey’s most outstanding player has grown into a first place winner, three Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists, The Hobey Baker High School Character Award, Legends of College Hockey, and a TV show that airs on the NHL network the Friday before the Frozen Four begins.

Even in retirement, Chuck is still a major supporter of the Hobey Baker Award. And he continues to watch as much hockey as he can.

1947 MIAC Championship Team
Team members from the 1947 and 1948 MIAC Conference Baseball Championship Teams recognized at Hall of Fame banquet. Charles Bard ‘50, Ken Walsh ‘48, Art Marben ‘47, Roger Leak ‘50, Marvin Johnson ‘49, Jennings Thompson ‘51, Jeroy Carlson ‘48. Back Row: Edor Nelson ‘38 Coach, Ralph Pearson ‘49, Duane Lindgren ‘48, Arnold Henjum ‘49, Robert Howells ‘50, Bobb Miller ‘48.

Nursing in the Community

David Clark ’18 – Doctor of Nurse Practice Program

Katie and David Clark

David Clark had been in nursing for a few years, working as an intensive care nurse in hospitals. In an ER, nurses and doctors try to medically diagnose people to fix a problem. But David wanted to know more about why people were coming to the ER – especially the “frequent flyers” – and if there was a way to better help them. He’d never seen nursing in the community, never seen how nursing practice was serving marginalized communities.

So when his friend and colleague from ICU at Fairview, Katie Clark, invited him to volunteer at Augsburg’s Health Commons in Minneapolis, he jumped at the chance. And it was here that David learned about Augsburg’s nursing program.

Augsburg’s Health Commons is a nursing-led drop-in center, led and organized by nursing faculty members, nursing volunteers, students, and community members.

Ruth Enestvedt was the director then, and the wonderful nurses volunteering had an amazing connection with the community, with people who had disappeared from society and were homeless,” says David. “These folks came to the commons to be part of a community. This was inspiring to me, to cast a new way nursing could serve a community.”

When talking about the Health Commons, Ruth Enestvedt said, “We assume that people are experts in their own lives. We provide useful, relevant service that respects what the person brings to the situation.” David took this statement to heart and decided to finish his graduate degree at Augsburg because of the program’s emphasis on marginalized people.

“I was working in an intensive care and ER in downtown St. Paul at the larger of the trauma centers for the inner city. It was like being at two ends of the pipe: I saw how community issues from the Health Commons translated into why people ended up in my ER frequently. I saw the connections to the complex story.”

David earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. While he says the U of M is a great school, when looking for a doctoral and nurse practitioner program, he wanted something focused on community outreach. He found this at Augsburg.

“Augsburg is unique in what it’s trying to do with community.”

David is now an emergency room nurse practitioner. He wanted to stay on the ER track, but also wanted to carry on his doctoral work. He works in the St. Croix Falls area, at a smaller medical center with an ER.

“I ended up here in part because of where I live, but also it serves marginalized rural communities. It’s incredibly hard to get health care access in rural communities, and Polk County is near the top of the lists for struggling for health care access.”

This medical center serves a lot of the River Valley in western Wisconsin. They deal with a fair amount of people in poverty – who live in trailers and on farmsteads – so David and his colleagues work closely with the state to increase access.

“I’m still training, I’m kind of a resident right now, still getting on my feet, but I’m able to do graduate work and work with people who experience poverty. It’s a smaller volume than I am used to, but I’m finding a lot of hallmarks between the city and the country, just different kinds of challenges.”

While David appreciates the education he received at Augsburg, he is also thankful for Augsburg because it was his volunteering at the Health Commons where he discovered another great love: his wife, Katie Clark.

“It was great to find Katie!”

Katie is an Assistant Professor at Augsburg and took over as Executive Director of the Health Commons when Ruth retired. After working at the ICU at Fairview together, and then volunteering at the Health Commons together, Katie and David started dating and after a short time got married. Together, David and Katie continue to work with marginalized communities in hopes that they can help others look at a new way to practice and see patients.

Augsburg’s Health Commons

Health Commons tree logoThrough the years, Augsburg nurses have met community members who have welcomed their service. In the relationships that have developed, nurses continue to experience the mutuality of health – when someone grows stronger, that strength helps everyone in the community.

Since its opening, the Health Commons has been supported by donations of both time and supplies from people of many backgrounds who want to help. The original partners continue to support the Commons, and nurses from the wider nursing community also assist in its operation.

Alumni Spotlight: Max Marcy ’03

Max Marcy headshotAt the beginning of December 2020, Max Marcy was promoted to Global Corporate Treasurer at H.B. Fuller. He started with H.B. Fuller over eleven years ago, initially managing foreign currency and investor relations. His leadership skills were quickly noticed and by 2018, Max was recognized as a top investor relations professional by Wall Street analysis.

From a young age, Max knew he wanted to go to school for finance.

“My goal was always to be an investment banker; I’ve always been a finance guy. I’ve always been interested in numbers.”

Max is a graduate from 2003. After spending one year at Luther College in Iowa and one year off, he found Augsburg’s StepUP program and began in the fall of 2000. StepUP was a relatively new program at the time, but Max fell in love with the program and with Augsburg, particularly the fitness center.

“Being in StepUP wasn’t like what it is today, it was a new program. The fitness center was a level playing field where we were all out there trying to do the same thing, trying to stay active. It was a great meeting ground, and I met a lot of people from all over campus,” says Max.

Max also had the opportunity to play in Augsburg’s Jazz and Concert bands. He enjoyed playing at Sunday gospel praise group and had the chance to travel to Ireland with the Concert Band under Professor Bob Stacke.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Management Information Systems, Max joined Valspar Corporation. Max had the opportunity to go back to school with Valspar’s education benefits and earned his MBA in Corporate Finance at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in 2008. This degree, along with his experience as a Senior Treasury Analyst, got Max on H.B. Fuller’s radar.

“Corporate treasury is the finance you study in undergrad and in business school. Learning how to issue bonds, operating bank accounts, projecting cash flows around the world. That’s what I do, that’s what I like to do.”

Today, Max is the Corporate Treasurer for H.B. Fuller.

“I’m the company piggy bank!”

Max is responsible for oversight of the funds his company generates, which can get very complicated when operating businesses in over 100 countries.

When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, Max spent most of his time studying a multitude of scenarios to make sure the company could weather the pandemic. Now, his focus has shifted to looking more at how to work remotely while bringing back some of the engagement lost in a virtual landscape.

“I’m not your typical finance person. I’m very analytical, but I don’t sit behind a desk all day. I like talking to people and socializing, and that’s more difficult when you can’t run down the hallway to talk to them. People now are scheduling all sorts of calls all the time, booking calendars up, so instead of the two-minute hallway conversation we are having long meetings. How do we fix that? We need to figure out how we connect more efficiently through all this remote working.”

When looking back at his time at Augsburg, Max believes the best thing he did and the best thing students can do today is to take in the full experience of class.

“The easiest thing you can do is go to class, learn what you’re paying to learn. I wasn’t always the best at spending time with homework and studying, but my butt was always in the chair. Get in your chair or on your computer and just listen.”

Max also credits talking to others and asking questions for helping him get to where he is today.

“Reach out, ask questions. Ask what people do in their job. Figure out what it means to be a business analyst, what it means to be an IT professional, what it means to be a Treasurer, so that you have a little more direction.”

Max had a clear direction of where he wanted to go – finance – so he put himself in career opportunities to learn. He wanted to understand what jobs actually entailed before he just took a position.

“It’ll give you a leg up to know more. You’ll have more of a work/life balance, and more job satisfaction. Take the opportunities, and that will go a long way versus being frustrated with what you’re doing and always waiting for a payday.”

The Nontraditional Route to Higher Ed – Anthony Howard ’18

Anthony Howard 2018Anthony Howard ’18 didn’t take the traditional route through higher education. He graduated from high school early and immediately went into the business world as a full time employee at Ponsse in Wisconsin, a forest machinery company headquartered in Vierema, Finland. While on a business trip in Finland, Anthony asked if there were any openings to work in Finland. He was looking for an opportunity to learn more, as well as get outside of his comfort zone.

One month later, he moved to Finland.

Anthony was there for two years, working predominately with international business relations.

“I was alone, young, and didn’t have much support in Finland. So I was forced to grow up, be a self-starter,” says Anthony.

At the end of 2009, he was ready for a new challenge, so he moved back to the United States and after a winter off, he took a job in Michigan with Roland Machinery Company. It was a good job, but he realized that while he’d been successful so far, he needed a higher education.

“I knew I wouldn’t have the ability to keep moving and doing things as I had been up to this point.”

He moved to Minnesota and signed up for an information session at Normandale Community College to learn more about their AA Business program.

“I ended up enrolling for school that night. I wasn’t a big school person so I picked classes that I knew I’d like to keep me interested. And after two years, I got a bug to go after my Bachelor’s degree.”

That’s when he found Augsburg. Anthony discovered his credits from Normandale would transfer well to Augsburg. He also fell in love with the campus and Adult Undergraduate program availability. He needed weekend and evening classes, but still wanted the in-person teaching. Augsburg’s Adult Undergraduate program fit all his needs.

Anthony enjoyed his accounting classes, and took any class he could with Professor Marc McIntosh. However, his favorite classes were the electives, such as book making and theater.

“The liberal arts education at Augsburg helps craft character.”

Anthony’s ethics class used references that he uses today in his workplace. He took two years of Spanish; he doesn’t remember the Spanish now, but he does remember being outside his comfort zone trying to learn another language. And he believes theater helped him learn about preparation, a lesson that circled back a few years later while he was studying leadership as part of the master’s program at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business.

“My professor reiterated the importance of a theater exercise: take a note. In theater, students take a note from the director about evaluating their performance. In the business world, you can take a note from leadership that helps elevate your work performance.”

After graduating from Augsburg in 2018, Anthony and his wife had a small group of friends get together for the 4th of July. One of his friends is a career coach and asked what he was going to do next.

“She got my wheels turning, so I looked into specialty Masters programs. I didn’t want a general MBA, I wanted something very specific. I found a supply chain program which brought all my career pieces together. I deferred one year for our second baby. Then I completed my Masters in the summer of 2020.”

Now Anthony is 90 days into his job as COO at Escali, a Minnesota company which manufactures measuring equipment for home and professional settings.

“Joining a new company in midst of COVID is interesting. There are limited people, limited interactions, and it makes for a weird transfer into a new role.”

When asked what advice he has for students, he says when searching for a job, do the resume steps and have an elevator pitch. He also recommends reading The 20-Minute Networking Meeting because it teaches you how to come across as professional in any situation.

He also believes in networking.

“You’ll meet some awesome people, and they may or may not directly help you with a future job. If you do a good job staying in touch, they might be a good resource to have down the road. Get outside your comfort zone, talk to people. I networked my butt off to gain experiences. I had a lot of coffee with a lot of people just to ask questions and really learn about their work. After those meetings, I really reviewed and appreciated what I learned; that’s the goal. Today, I’m comfortable applying COVID rules to a new company with new people because of all the work I’ve done before that took me outside of my comfort zone. It’s not scary now.”

Reflecting on 50 Years – Wayne ’69 and Pam (Bjorklund) ’69 Carlson

Pam and Wayne CarlsonAugsburg University holds a special place in the Carlson’s hearts. Wayne ’69 and Pam (Bjorklund) ’69 Carlson met on campus over 50 years ago, and two of their children attended Augsburg. So when they were approached about helping organize their 50th reunion, Wayne and Pam welcomed the opportunity.

“The most interesting thing about being on the committee was reconnecting with some people we haven’t seen since graduation,” says Wayne. “But also meeting new people who were at Augsburg at the same time as us but we didn’t know.”

Both enjoyed reconnecting with classmates and learning about what was new – and what was still the same – on campus.

“One thing I liked when I was at Augsburg and has expanded now is how Augsburg reaches out to the community, and how over the years they’ve been able to include students of color, students of all economic ranges, and the fact that they accommodate students with special needs. It’s only expanded more and more over the years,” says Pam.

The Carlson’s also had the opportunity to attend Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala the night before their 50th reunion and homecoming celebration. They enjoyed seeing people from other graduating classes, and enjoyed finding new Auggie connections.

“It was telling that you get to an event like that and there’s a small number of people you connect with, that you know really well. Ninety-five percent were strangers, but you all have a common goal or common interest in Augsburg,” says Wayne.

Both Pam and Wayne have fond memories of their time on campus. And while much of Augsburg is the same, they also witnessed big changes over the years.

“It was the same Augsburg in a lot of ways, but with improvements to the buildings. Some of the housing has changed dramatically! I lived in one of the old houses my senior year, but that one is gone now,” says Pam.

“Something that’s different, listening to our daughters talk about their experience as students, is the close relationships with the teachers. Our daughters both received presidential scholarships and they had these special discussion groups. It was neat to hear but I never got into that kind of thing as a student. It’s so different to hear our daughters were friends with their professors. Back then you looked up to the professors but you didn’t get to be friends with them,” says Wayne.

When Wayne applied to Augsburg, he knew he wanted to go to medical school and play sports. In the 60’s, it was a bit of a challenge because he felt like he was the only football player taking chemistry and physics classes.

“I felt like I was an outsider, but I wanted to be part of both programs and it worked out. Back in my day no one helped work out schedules with practice and labs. There was no pre-med club but I felt well prepared for medical school with the quality of the science courses and the broad range of courses I had in the humanities.  I was thrilled to be accepted to medical school and had a 43 year very satisfying career in family medicine.”

Wayne was happy to hear that today, Augsburg does a lot to help balance academics, lab time, and practice time with the student athletes.

As an Elementary Education major, Pam had more communication with her professors. She felt they were always creative and helpful. When she returned to Augsburg in the 80’s to expand her education degree to include Early Childhood Education, she was pregnant. At the end of the semester, the class threw a baby shower for her.

“That doesn’t usually happen in your college classes! It’s that personal touch that was nice,” Pam says.

That personal connection, along with Augsburg’s mission of service to the community, is what keeps Pam and Wayne connected to their alma mater. Both of their daughters who attended Augsburg ended up in service-type careers.

“Those seeds of service to the community are planted with your family and highlighted when you’re at a school that emphasizes that,” says Pam. “50 years ago they had us going out to the neighborhood schools for observation and to help out a bit, so Augsburg’s service started a long long time ago.”

In recognition of Augsburg’s service to the community, and gratitude for the education they and their daughters received at Augsburg, Pam and Wayne Carlson feel fortunate to be able to give to Augsburg now and they have included Augsburg in their will for future giving.

Class of 1969 50th Reunion
Class of 1969 at their 50th Reunion during Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Homecoming in 2019.

The Man in the Pines – one Auggie’s quest to find a story

The Man in the Pines-NashPer Minnesota tradition, David Nash ’06 first met the giant, talking Paul Bunyan in Brainerd, Minnesota when he was really young, and it left a lasting impression. So a few years ago when picking an American folklore to read to his son, it was obvious to David he should read the story of Paul Bunyan. Unfortunately, his son wasn’t that interested in tales of Paul and Babe the Blue Ox.

David has always enjoyed writing music, so he wrote a song about Paul to sing to his son, imagining if Paul was a real person. He wondered what if Paul’s story was a bit sadder, and perhaps we were taking advantage of his story and turning it into something else to get the happy folklore that it is now.After writing the song, David played it at an open mic and people really enjoyed it. Later, he heard an interview of a musician he listens to who mentioned they wrote a book based off a song.

“It occurred to me: why does my song have to be the end of the story?”

After his kids went to bed one summer night in 2018, David sat down and started writing. Then it was every night when the kids went to bed. He’d sit down in a chair and write and write and write.

“It all came on suddenly, almost to the point that it felt kind of like a sickness. It was like I couldn’t get better until the story was all written down.”

By researching the history of logging in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the great Hinckley fire, David aimed to write a historically accurate novel with American folklore, historical ecology, Native American spirituality, and love.

When a draft was complete, the next step was publication. David’s wife, alumna Sara (Holman) Nash ’06, suggested he reach out to Augsburg’s English Department. Sara is an English major graduate from Augsburg and connected David with Professor Emerita Kathryn Swanson.

“Kathy Swanson and the English Department helped me look for publishers and things to consider in terms of what makes the project marketable, and writing resources.”

Two publishers accepted David’s book: one was from Oregon and the other, Orange Hat Publishing, is located in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

“I went with the Waukesha publisher. Being more local, I felt a good connection with their owner, who went to the same high school as me.”

After rounds of formal editing and book designs, The Man in the Pines was ready to be released. A book launch party was planned for April 2020 at a local brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The party and book tour was going to be accompanied by David’s The Man in the Pines music.

However, the current pandemic prevented the party from happening and canceled the book tour.

“With COVID, self-promotion is hard right now. As a musician, I thrive more off immediate interaction with people, in-person.”

David isn’t giving up, though. He still released the book in March and did an online reading with a few other authors. He also hosted an online concert with one other musician, during which David explained a few stories from book and played songs. When it’s safe to do so, he will tour with his book and accompanying songs, and have a proper launch party in La Crosse.

One surprising thing David learned about himself while writing The Man in the Pines is that he really likes writing.

“If someone would have told me I would enjoy writing a book, it would have been hard to comprehend. I like that you can start with an idea and you may not know your destination. I like writing myself out of problems. It can be frustrating, but also gratifying to discover the journey of your characters as you write.”

Photo from alumna Lauren (Falk) McVean ‘06. Photo credit Lauren B Photography (laurenbfalk.com).

David had an early connection to Augsburg. His mom, Susan Nash, Ed.D., has been a nursing professor at Augsburg’s Rochester campus since 1998, and his older brother, Collin, played hockey at Augsburg. David was a biology major and also played hockey. He met his wife, Sara, their senior year in college, at a mutual friend’s birthday party.

Today, David is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Strabismologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two children, where they spend most of their time outdoors, kayaking, jogging, fly and trout fishing, hiking, painting, and practicing photography.

“I have more interests and hobbies than I have time for!”

Making an Impact Through Problem Solving

Brynn Watson ’89 is Lockheed Martin’s Vice President in the Digital Transformation Program. As COVID-19 moved most of Lockheed Martin’s work online, Brynn’s work became more important than ever, helping her teams pivot to a digital platform. She has been pleasantly surprised that productivity and efficiency have continued and says her teams have adapted positively to online programs to stay connected. While this has been a big change for most of the company, it’s a change Brynn embraces, especially in her leadership role.

“We’re more empathetic about work-life balance. Parents are teaching their kids. We’ve become more accepting about dogs barking in the background of a phone call. I like that change. It’s a good thing.”

Brynn has an award-winning record for her leadership abilities: Lockheed Martin Space NOVA Full Spectrum Leadership Award; Tribute to Women Honor by the YWCA of Silicon Valley; and Lockheed Martin Space Ed Taft Diversity Leadership Award.

In 2018, Brynn was recognized with Augsburg’s Distinguished Alumni Award for her commitment to helping young women in STEM.

Brynn’s dedication to helping others through community building started long before her work at Lockheed Martin. It started in middle school with the influence of another Auggie: Ertwin “Ert” Jones-Hermerding.

Ert graduated from Augsburg in 1969 with a degree in Speech, then moved to Robbinsdale to teach speech and theater at the middle school. This is where Brynn first met Ert and first learned about Augsburg.

“What he had our theater groups focus on was not only our craft, but our community. I got into the focus on service really young.”

Brynn thought Augsburg sounded like the best college from Ert’s depiction. In fact, when applying for college, she only applied to Augsburg.

“I followed in the footsteps of my favorite teacher,” says Brynn. “I was really motivated to go to a place where I could learn and also make an impact on my community.”

At Augsburg, Brynn was involved in campus life as a resident advisor, a cheerleader, and as part of ODK, a national organization that recognized students with responsible leadership and service in campus life skills. And it was in her math class that she developed a love for problem solving. Dr. Lawrence Copes, Chair of Math Computer Science, challenged Brynn and her classmates to think differently about math.

“He opened our minds to what math is, he called it a beautiful language and problem solving language.”

Brynn credits Dr. Copes’ coaching and mentorship for steering her into the aerospace industry. When she thought about what to do with her mathematics degree, she thought about solving hard problems. And the industry growing at the time of her graduation—the industry that presented all the hard problems—was the aerospace industry.

Leadership Through Mentorship

Brynn graduated from Augsburg, then went on to earn her master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of California at Riverside. After a few years at Aerojet Electronic Systems, she attended a job fair where she met a female executive, Amy Flanagan, who was focused on recruiting women to Lockheed Martin. Brynn was so impressed with Amy that she decided she wanted to work for her.

“I honed my focus on service at Augsburg, but when I met Amy, I was introduced to her passion and I wanted to work for her and work for the place she was committed to.”

At Lockheed Martin, Brynn has held a variety of positions, including vice president of Navigation Systems Operations and deputy for the Global Positioning System (GPS) III program for Lockheed Martin Space.

“I have a lot of great memories and experiences of

developing products, launching satellites, those are awesome and amazing things that are doing wonderful things for our country and our world.”

When asked what she is most proud of in the time since graduating from Augsburg, Brynn says raising her daughter to be an amazing young woman. Brynn is also proud of her work mentoring others, especially women.

Augsburg prepared her to go out into the world and make an impact, and Brynn sees this impact in her daughter, in her daughter’s friends, and in others she’s mentored over the years.

“It’s visiting classrooms, it’s one kid that got a spark from that visit. That’s amazing to be able to create those sparks that can solve the next big challenge for the world.”

Brynn has mentored several women in her career, including college students who now work at Lockheed Martin. She is also on the Executive Steering Council for Lockheed Martin’s Women’s Impact Network, and is co-chairing this year’s virtual women’s leadership forum.

“As much as I believe we are making a lot of progress in our quest to improve the diversity metrics—particularly the female to male ratios—there’s a lot of work to do. I always make sure that people surround themselves with mentors and sponsors and champions. You are creating a network of support so as you need to make difficult decisions—whether it’s technical decisions within your day job or it is advice on how to find that next opportunity—you’ve got that support network.”

Brynn’s daily work doesn’t include typing code or doing math problems on the white board like she used to, but she believes her work is still about solving problems and making sure the barriers her teams might be facing are addressed.

“Sometimes you think you have to do it all on your own and that’s never the case. I got to where I am because of mentors and teachers and my parents, all those people are the shoulders that I stood on to get to where I’m at.”