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Senior Interview: Lexi Thibodeaux

Graduating senior, Lexi Thibodeaux (Communication Studies major)

Asking Lexi about her Departmental Honors project, her reflection on Augsburg, and her life moving forward.


For your departmental honors project, what did you decide to do and why?

“So I did a project on diversity within public relations. Yeah, like short backstory, basically, there was a program that one of my professors sent to me and I was part of the program. And we kind of just talked about different things with NPR. And it was like on Zoom. And then pretty much every time we met, they’d always be like, ‘this is so important. We really need you guys. We need diversity,’ blah, blah, blah, blah. But no one really talked about the backside of why it was important. So that’s why I wanted to do that project, kind of to discover why it was so important and why people kept saying that to me.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to complete a departmental honors project?

Lexi’s 3 Pieces of Advice for Departmental Honors Projects:

  1. “I would say, make the timeline. Because I think especially for me, at least, when I was doing qualitative stuff, it felt like I had more time than I actually did. And I was like, ‘that’s not gonna be that bad. I just have to interview people, or I’d have to read through interviews,’ and that stuff. And I think it’s always better to have more time than less. So make a timeline, whether that’s by yourself or with your professor.”
  2. “I would say that it’s okay to change something as you go. So if you start off with one goal, and then you do interviews, and you’re actually like ‘Wow, this thing that people are talking about, I actually want to shift my focus to this,’ because I think it’s better to work on something that you actually care about, and that you’re passionate about. Rather than stick with something that you might have thought about in the beginning of the semester, just because you don’t feel like you can change it. Because I think that’ll show through, like if you don’t actually care about what you’re talking about.”
  3. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think for me, at least, I always felt like if I needed help with something, I needed to reach out to whatever professors classes were for. So like, if I was working on something for Kristen, I feel like I need to ask her. But the rest of the department is there to help you. They want to see you succeed. Nobody, there’s gonna be like, ‘What a stupid question. Why did you come here?’ So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether that’s from other students or your professor, your advisor or outside sources.” 

What is the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned getting through all of this?

“Continue to be open to learning. And don’t feel like you know it all. I think there were a lot of times I just like..I don’t feel like I walked around like a know–it–all, but I think mentally there were a lot of things where I was like, ‘I know this already, I know how to do this already. I don’t need your help, blah, blah, blah.’ But like, there’s always something that you can learn. And I think if you walk in with an attitude of like, ‘you know, everything you’re supposed to know that,’ you’re not gonna learn anything. But I think if you take the time to take a step back and understand that you don’t know everything, there’s gonna be some things you do know and some you don’t know and be okay with that.”

What kind of stuff are you going to be doing after graduation now?

“I’m going to take the longest nap I’ve ever had! But seriously, I do have a job lined up. So I’m going to be working in the marketing communications department at Medtronic. I am how I describe myself to people as I’m a creative communicator. So like, I love to sing, I write music. I love to draw, I love podcasts. But I also like, for right now I have opportunities in the corporate world that I’m cool with. So I think the end goal is like, I would love to be able to do all of those things. My end goal would be to be able to do music full time. And then I want to get to a place where I run my own label where I train up other kids in the music industry. I think all of the things that I’m learning in school come into play with that, because all that’s communicating. It’s just kind of like, ‘Am I doing it face to face? Am I doing it through song? Am I doing it digitally?’ So that is the end goal. But immediately, I will be working at Medtronic and continuing to make stuff whether that’s musically or digitally.”

How do you plan to balance your corporate job and your creative passions and goals? How have you been balancing being a student and employee while pursuing these goals?

“Everything is figure-out-able”

“One thing that my mom always said to me growing up was that everything is figure–out–able. So you don’t have to just like know, you can figure stuff out. So if you want to be a traveling dancer while you’re learning German and learning to cook like you can do it you just have to time manage, you know what I’m saying? So I think like I think for me, I had to understand that one just because I have a talent. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work at it. If anything, I have to work harder. And that was kind of a hard pill to swallow.” 

Time Management

“Okay, I have this job, but this is the passion that I have. How am I going to set up my time to do that? So maybe that means like, I’m not gonna go to the gym at night, I’m gonna go in the morning, maybe that means I only hang out with friends Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I’m writing Monday and Thursday. So, I think being okay with putting in some work beyond what’s expected of you.”

“It’s not an all or nothing thing” 

“So I think, traditionally, there was like a big joke of like, being a starving artist, because it’s like, ‘it’s my art or nothing.’ You can work from eight to four, and then like, take a break, and then work on your craft from like, six to eight. I don’t think it has to be such an all or nothing thing. So- shifting focus and priority.”

“Knowing how to shift focus.”

“I’m not a big fan of living in a cardboard box. Just because I want to be a singer doesn’t mean I want to be a starving artist. I enjoy Nikes, I like sushi. I would like to have money. And so I think, if an opportunity is like the job at Medtronic- something that I got through an internship at Augsburg- yeah, it’s not something I necessarily imagined doing. But I like it, and it’s not soul sucking, so that was really important for me. But then also, I was like, ‘okay, just because I’m doing this, this doesn’t mean this is the rest of my life. I use that if it’s like, I want to buy new podcast equipment, use the money that I make for work,’ you know what I’m saying? Yeah, you pick what you want to do.”

Yang is awarded a Crystal Pillar in Animation

Nancy Yang and the Crystal Pillar for  College-  Animation/Graphics/Special Effects at the 2022 Student Production Awards.

Nancy Yang ’22 was presented with a Student Production Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Foundation for her work “Ee”, an animated short film. Yang received the Crytal Pillar for COLLEGE – ANIMATION/GRAPHICS/SPECIAL EFFECTS.  Yang is the second Augsburg student to receive an award in this category.

Yang’s film, “Ee”, tells the true story of a young girl who learns to love fishing through fishing adventures with her father.  When her father suddenly becomes ill, the girl must face a new reality.  Yang created the film in her Documentary Production class.  The work combines a documentary story with animated illustrations.

High School and college students from the Upper Midwest Chapter area of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and western Wisconsin area are eligible to submit to the annual awards. The awards recognize outstanding student achievements in video media production. Selected nominees are considered by a jury of professionals who examine content, creativity, and execution.  Awards are given out to those who achieve high marks in those areas.

You can read more about the Student Production Awards at

2022 Upper Midwest Emmy® Student Production Award Nominees

Nominations for the 2022 Upper Midwest Emmy® Student Production Awards are out and this year five Augsburg film students have been nominated in four different categories.

Kobe Markworth ’22, Corrine Werckman ’22, Finnr Elsmo ’22, Nancy Yang ’22, and Adrianna ‘Yani’ Forman ’20 earned these nominations for outstanding media production and will now be considered for a Crystal Pillar. Crystal Pillars will be awarded at a ceremony on Friday, April 1st. This televised ceremony will be streamed for online and mobile devices on the Upper Midwest Emmy® YouTube channel and The Emmy® App. You can read the full list of 2022 Nominees online at College media production programs in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota are eligible.

Upper Midwest Student Production Award


“The Grind”
Augsburg University
Kobe Markworth, Director
Corrine Werckman, Writer/Talent
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

“Augsburg Profile – Za’Nia Coleman”
Augsburg University
Yani Foreman, Producer/Director
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

“Augsburg Men’s Soccer: MIAC Playoff vs. Macalester”
Augsburg University
Finnr Elsmo, Director
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

Augsburg University
Nancy Yang, Animator

*The awards were not held last year, thus the period of eligibility this year was Jan. 2020 – Dec. 2021.

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 12)

Written by David Lapakko 

In the end, it’s all about people

Most of the previous installments of this feature have dealt with buildings and policies and technology, but for this final look in the rearview mirror, I’d like to focus on people–specifically, students who were unique and memorable.  There have been many of them, and there’s not enough space to tell enough such stories.  For now, a few examples will have to suffice.


My former students include: an advisee who started at Augsburg as a male and graduated as a female, a recent graduate who has had more than 140 brain surgeries, a StepUp student from the east coast whose father is a well-known actor (he came to Augsburg because there were so few such programs anywhere in the nation), and a student in a wheelchair whose family was from Russia–her Russian grandmother came to the commencement ceremony in tears, telling me that in her home country, something like that would not happen for someone with such a disability.  I also had a student who struggled mightily to finish her degree–in the end, she wound up taking the equivalent of 53 courses (32 would be the norm) in order to meet all her major and degree requirements.


Another former communication major was involved in a bicycle accident during a road race.  As a consequence, he became a paraplegic.  That didn’t stop him, though–he became a world class archer in the Paralympics and a sought-after motivational speaker.


Although his major was political science, I also had a student who was affected by osteogenesis imperfecta–brittle bone disease.  He had had over 200 broken bones in his lifetime.  Because he was only about 3 feet tall and had limited use of his hands, his mother pushed his adapted wheelchair to every one of my persuasion classes–and managed to stay awake through every one of them!  I was in awe of his mom’s dedication and her son’s amazing array of opinions.  He wanted to be a lawyer, but he passed on in his mid-30s before he was able to realize that dream.


But perhaps the most amazing story involves one of our former majors–in this case I’ll mention his name because his story is a very public one.  Due to a birth defect, Dave Stevens did not have legs.  He was and is 3 feet, 2 inches tall.  Yet–and this always blows me away–he was on the football, wrestling, and baseball teams!  For the Auggie football team, he was an interior lineman; he managed to play on his stumps.  In 1996, he played minor league baseball for the St. Paul Saints.  He also had a football tryout with the Dallas Cowboys, and baseball tryouts with the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds.  For more about Dave, you can check:


These and many other students have been both humbling and inspirational.  Yes, in the last year, we have all been challenged–no doubt about that.  But every person and every class and every generation faces its own set of challenges, and these former Auggies, because they rose to face them, will always stay locked permanently in my memory bank.

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 11)

Written by David Lapakko 

Senior Breakfast: the demise of fine dining for seniors

As we head down the home stretch toward commencement, I regret to say that our graduating seniors will not be able to partake in what was an annual event at Augsburg for many years: the Senior Breakfast.


The Senior Breakfast was a way to acknowledge and congratulate all of our graduates, and it was always on the last Friday of spring semester.  It was quite a fancy event!  Students and faculty had to RSVP for it, and the dining service pulled out all the stops, with classy decorative table settings, real tablecloths, fine china, cloth napkins, attentive waitstaff, and pretty sumptuous food.  There was even live music–often something like a student jazz ensemble.  Overall, anyone attending the event couldn’t help but feel a little pampered.


If all of this is true, why don’t we still have a Senior Breakfast?  I cannot profess to know all the reasons, but one noteworthy aspect of the event was that it was always scheduled to start at  (ugh) 7:00 a.m.  For faculty, that probably meant getting out of bed at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. at the end of one of the most hectic weeks of the term!  Then, because Augsburg did not want any attendees to miss their first class on that Friday, the Senior Breakfast ended at 8:00 sharp, meaning that everything had to be smushed into 60 minutes.  Therefore, it did not feel very leisurely, especially since there were even a couple commemorative speeches that needed to be squeezed in.  Finally, back to that live music: it was a nice thought, but it was also often quite loud–so much so that it was difficult to have any sort of decent conversation at your table.  It was demoralizing to be drowned out by the amplified renderings of Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis for a full thirty minutes.  So, in the end, the Senior Breakfast often felt rushed, noisy, and not worth the effort that it took to get to campus by the ungodly hour of 7:00.  And eventually, some years ago it was permanently shelved.


Yes, there are still other celebratory events on campus at the close of spring semester, but the Senior Breakfast represented a noble striving for elegance.  That said, very few of us miss dragging our tails in the door at the crack of dawn!  Please pass the Froot Loops.

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 10)

Written by David Lapakko 

When doing research was quite a search!

You could say that when it comes to doing research, today’s students are incredibly spoiled–and they probably don’t even realize it.  But leave it to us old geezers to explain why!


In the old days (read: anytime before 1995), there were three main places to find material for papers: the card catalog, the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, and the Social Science Index.  The card catalog was the size of a small room and had scores of drawers.  In these little drawers were thousands of 3 x 5 note cards–on each card, a different book was listed, with its call number.  To actually get the book, you’d need to trudge to the “stacks” where all the books were housed, find it on the shelf, and then check it out.  But the card catalog didn’t have a way to tell you if a book was already checked out, so you went to the stacks and crossed your fingers.


The Reader’s Guide was an index to a wide variety of popular magazines such as Time or Newsweek.  There was such an index for every year–each one was a hardbound book at least two inches thick.  If you wanted an article on, say, capital punishment, you could look in the 1990 index, and then the 1989 index, and then 1988, etc. and hope that you might a few articles listed that would be helpful.  Then you could go to the Social Science Index, which was an index to many academic journals, and do a similarly laborious search–again, year by year.  Then to find the actual magazine or journal, you’d once again trudge to the stacks, hunt for the bound volume of that publication, and hope that you had a way to photocopy it, since you didn’t just check out an entire year’s issues of bound volumes; they didn’t leave the building.


When all was said and done, if you found three or four relevant books and three or four useful articles through this laborious process, you thought you had quite a treasure trove of information!  Now, of course, all of this seems incredibly lame and antiquated.  The next time you Google a topic and wind up with 750,000 hits in 1.4 seconds, don’t take that sort of thing for granted.  The power that today’s students have to access the universe of information is nothing short of mind-boggling–at least if your reference point is thumbing through World Almanacs and encyclopedias to find something out that Siri can now tell you in five seconds!

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 9)

Written by David Lapakko 

Two requirements for the major that no longer exist

As some of our seniors look forward to commencement, there are at least two things they won’t need to worry about.  If you were a communication studies major in the ‘90s, two final hurdles stood in your way.  The first involved a requirement for all majors that was in place for roughly ten years: all communication studies graduates needed to participate in at least two interscholastic speech tournaments in order to graduate.  Suffice it to say that in the ‘90s, we sent a lot of students to Normandale Community College to compete in Twin Cities Forensics League tournaments that were held at Normandale six times a year.  After a while, the requirement became a bit of a hassle for some students and a record-keeping headache for the department, and so it was dropped.


The other requirement was built on the premise that all of our majors should not only be able to speak–they should be able to write, or at least know correct usage, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  And so, a “writing test” was administered to every graduating senior; it was basically a fake news article that was riddled with errors in composition.  If a senior could find and correct a good percentage of those errors, they were free to graduate; if not, they needed to get some sort of remediation until they could pass.  After many years of such a requirement, a few rather vocal students complained that the test was too silly and superficial, and it was abandoned.  But I still have scores of old completed writing tests in my office drawer!


In those two respects, completing the major is slightly less of a hassle than it was in the past.  For that matter, so is completing the entire bachelor’s degree.  If you were a student in 1990, you’d need to pass 35 courses (three of which were J-term courses) and your commencement would be in late May; now you only need to pass 32 courses, and we’re now basically done by the end of April–and let’s face it, that makes the month of May just a whole lot less stressful.

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 8)

Written by David Lapakko 

Ray Anderson: the one-man department

For four decades, the communication major at Augsburg was really the domain of just one person: Ray Anderson.  Ray taught at Augsburg from 1949 to 1989 (yikes!), and it’s not an overstatement to say that for all those years he single handedly ran the program, with only modest help from a few adjunct instructors and faculty who floated in and out of the department.


Needless to say, with only one full-time person, the curriculum was much more limited; out of necessity, the major needed to be interdisciplinary.  So Ray’s pragmatic solution was to require the following courses as part of a communication major:  PHI 130 (Logic), PSY 105 (General Psychology), SOC 121 (Principles of Sociology) or SOC 336 (Cultural Anthropology), SOC 375 (Social Psychology) and either ENG 223, 225, 226, or 227 (an advanced writing course).  Then, to round out the major, students would take Public Speaking, Mass Communication, Argumentation or Persuasion, Interpersonal Communication, and an internship.  In other words, it was a ten-course major, but only five of the courses were in the department!  But thanks to Ray’s steady hand, the major survived and in many ways thrived. 


Ray’s entire family has left a large imprint on Augsburg.  His wife Margaret worked at our library from 1967-1990 and was its director for her last thirteen years here.  Ray’s son Stuart is now a retired Auggie physics professor, and his son Brian is a class of ’82 alum.  His surviving family members recently donated $50,000 to endow a scholarship in Ray and Margaret’s name. 


Ray died in 2013, and Margaret passed on in 2017 at the age of 92.  But countless alumni will always remember them.  According to his son Brian, Ray once said that “he loved his job so much that he felt guilty getting paid to do it.”  And Ray was a real Renaissance man with many interests, including trumpet, piano, painting, woodworking, and writing.


I was fortunate enough to get to know Ray in his last years on the faculty, and I will always remember his modesty, civility, gentle humor, and wisdom.  We all stand on his shoulders!

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 7)

Written by David Lapakko 

Times when there was a little more trust

Both young and old can make fun of many things out of the past–for example, the fact that I had to learn how to do math in high school with something called a slide rule, because personal electronic calculators were still not quite a standard part of our lives.  But at the same time, despite the lack of sophisticated technology, there was a sense of trust–bordering on naivete, I suppose–that I still sometimes miss.


Take a publication called The Auggie.  Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, The Auggie came out every fall.  It was a printed campus directory for faculty, staff, and students.  For students and professors, it included each person’s campus address, home address, and phone number–and it also included a personal photo, since most of us opted to include one (taken by a campus photographer).  In its own way, The Auggie was kind of charming–you could see what a professor looked like, find out who was from Iowa, or be able to call someone on a moment’s notice, because you had their number.  But–and you probably know where this is going–to make such a wealth of personal information available to anyone put the school as well as its students in a vulnerable position.  Sleazy people could and possibly did take advantage of it.  So, the right to be known was replaced by the right to privacy, and The Auggie bit the dust.


In a similar vein, you may remember that before COVID hit, many different types of vendors normally occupied tables during the lunch hour in the Christiansen Center lobby.  This could include a woman hawking jewelry, an organization selling roses for Valentine’s Day, or a military recruiter.  But it was pretty much a “find a table and set up shop” kind of operation–why would you need to regulate something like that?  Well, one time in the early 2000s, a woman saying she was a nurse was offering low-cost flu shots.  I remember Chris Kimball, our dean at the time, talking up this marvelously cheap and convenient way to get the vaccine; he was among those who took the woman up on it.  But then, the bad news: she was a nurse, but the “flu shots” she was offering were largely saline solution; in other words, it was a scam.  Now you know why ever since, any such vendor in Christiansen needs to post a permit to conduct their business.


Finally, don’t get me started on locked doors.  Suffice it to say that campus buildings and rooms were much more accessible, both day and night.  The word “fob” had hardly been invented yet, and it was mostly used in the context of keyless entry systems for cars.  The ramping up of campus security was no doubt necessary and inevitable, but I miss the days when it was assumed that most everyone could be trusted.  It was a simpler time, when Auggies went to the Chin Wag grill (now the Admissions Office), grabbed a burger and fries, studied the photos of all their classmates, and felt a little more free and invincible.

Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 6)

Written by David Lapakko 

The pre-digital era of paper

Throughout almost the entire 20th century, digital, electronic communication simply didn’t exist.  But thanks to our abundant forests, there was plenty of paper!

Until the dawn of the 21st century, campus mailboxes were a buzzing hub of messaging.  Whether you were a student or faculty, if you wanted to know what was going on, you went to Christiansen and checked your mailbox.  That included everything the Registrar might want you to know, everything about special campus events, and pretty much what every campus organization wanted to announce to the Augsburg community.  If you ignored your paper mail for a few days, you might return to a little box stuffed to the gills with such messages.  When Foss Center opened in 1988, for example, we wanted to host an open house for the entire campus on a weekday evening, and so the department ran off 2000 photocopied invitations to the event–only to find, after stuffing them all, that the flyer didn’t include the date!  You can guess what that meant: a follow-up mailing!

There’s a reason why such messaging is referred to these days as “snail mail.”  If a faculty member wanted to get a transcript for one of their advisees, they would need to fill out a form, put it in campus mail to the Registrar, and then wait a couple of days for a paper copy of the transcript to be returned via campus mail.  Now, of course, we can get electronic transcripts of any advisee in less than 60 seconds.  And since there was no Moodle on which to put handouts or other documents, the campus copy center was another venue that was often crazy-busy–especially since there were, at best, only a handful of photocopiers available elsewhere on campus.

In the end, if it wasn’t on paper, it didn’t exist.  But that was our “normal” at the time, and it seemed just as normal as needing to find a telephone attached to a jack on the wall (what we now call a “landline”) in order to call a friend.  Those were the smartest phones we had.