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2020-2021 Christensen Scholars

Branwen Jorenby ’23

Major: Biology, Minor: Psychology
Hometown: Prior Lake, MN

branwen smiling in field


Being a Christensen Scholar is an amazing experience! As someone who is not religious but grew up in a Lutheran setting, participating in this program has challenged me to fully dive into questioning my own spiritual beliefs in multiple thought-provoking readings and conversations with my peers. Engaging in Augsburg Health Commons as a volunteer through this program has allowed me to see health and humanity in a new light that I will bring into the care plans of my future patients.

Tofunmi Oteju ’21

Major: Biology
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

tofunmi smilingI have always been fascinated with Interfaith work and how our various beliefs intersect, with the sole purpose of maintaining some sort or unity between our different faith and non-faith traditions. I was able to explore my curiosity by being part of the 2019-2020 Interfaith Cohort. There I explored the religious diversity at Augsburg and the wider Twin Cities but also put on events that explore this diversity as it relates to various facets of our everyday lives (e.g. Faith and Science, Faith and Death). A revelation I had being an Interfaith Scholar, was that there is still so much work that has to be done within our various faith traditions. Currently, there is still not enough unity and understanding between different Christian denominations. Being an international student from Nigeria, I was not as exposed to the various protestant denominations till I started school at Augsburg. I was not even aware we had a wide variety of denominations within Protestantism. I was only familiar with mainly Catholicism and Pentecostalism (which I practice). Coming to a school built on the values of Lutheranism forced me to explore more denominations.
Being in the Christensen Scholars program has been a great way to cumulate my learning of the various ways of being a Christian.

Erik Garcia Gonzaga

Major: Communication Studies
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

erik leaning against rockMy name is Erik Garcia Gonzaga, born in Morelos, Mexico and raised here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am a student at Augsburg University studying Communication Studies. What I want to do with that major is to be in places where I can inspire and motivate teens and young adults to follow their career and educational goals.


Sarah Dorr ’21

Major: Theology and Public Leadership and a Concentration in Youth Studies
Hometown: Mahtomedi, Minnesota


sarah smiling on a chair

Throughout my five semesters at Augsburg I have grown in so many ways. I have been able to challenge my beliefs, discern my vocational calling, connect with others who have a strong faith and learn through the many opportunities Augsburg has provided. Through my time at Augsburg I grew curious about my own faith and I questioned what I believed and why. Christensen Scholars was an opportunity for me to continue to discuss and share my faith and to also hear the faith of my peers.


Shevon Greene ’21

Major: Communication Studies, Minor: Religion and Leadership Studies
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN


Shevon smiling

I was interested in Christensen Scholars because I wanted to have meaningful conversations with peers about topics that especially interested me and I want to delve deeper into. I also believe this is a great opportunity to explore my spirituality in a nonconventional way. Through this program, I hope to come out with a better sense of my self and the world around me. When I graduate this semester, I hope to bring these skills and knowledge with me and apply it to my vocation in whatever way that might be.



Nelago Tulela Nashandi ’21

Major: Biology
Hometown: Windhoek, Namibia

tutela smilingWhen I think about my first year at Augsburg, I remember being fascinated by our school mission statement. “Augsburg University educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.” I had never thought of myself using any of those adjectives before. Augsburg has definitely taught me to question “the norm” and how society functions. I became a Christensen Scholar because I wanted to explore the church’s role in the community. Should the church be talking about social justice issues? (if you want to know my answer, it’s yes. 🙂 ) I am passionate about leaving a space better than I found it, mostly for people who look and sound like me. If I can add insight that will make the next black/Afrikan person’s experience better I am achieving my vocation. 

Isaac Tadé ’21

Major: Biology, Minor: Religion
Hometown: Windom, MN

isaac smilingMy four years at Augsburg have brought numerous opportunities to grow in different areas of life. Among them, I’m proud of my spiritual growth through the Interfaith and Christensen Scholars Programs. Through Interfaith, I had the opportunity to challenge myself and my beliefs by learning from and engaging with people of different backgrounds and faiths. While in the Christensen Scholars program, I’ve come to appreciate the support of the Christian community at Augsburg. I’m very grateful for my Christensen Scholars internship at Augsburg Health Commons, which has allowed me to put my faith to work, and has helped prepare me to practice my values in my future health care career.

Grace Porter ’21

Major: Theology and Public Leadership with a concentration in Youth Studies, Minor: Music
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN

Grace walking outside


As someone who wants to work in the church, and change what that looks like (especially for youth), Augsburg was the no-brainer school to go to. I knew I could get an education that emphasized God’s love for everyone and God’s wish for God’s people to work for justice in the world! And now, as I am entering my fourth year, I know that is exactly what I have gotten. Through Christensen Scholars, the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, Campus Ministries, and so much more, Augsburg has been a wonderful home and learning community for me.