Grace Eastman ’23 grew up in a small town north of the Twin Cities. Upon reflecting on her decision to attend Augsburg Grace shared, “Augsburg gave me the vibes of a small town in a big city setting. It was important to me to have small class sizes and actually know my professors.” Another driving factor was being able to play on the basketball team. In fact, pursuing an athletic career at Augsburg isn’t something new to Grace’s family. “My uncle Randy Eastman ’95 wrestled here in the ’90s,” she excitedly shared.
Although she was excited to be recruited for basketball, she admitted she didn’t know too much about Augsburg before the Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR). “I had only toured a couple of times before then, so I was unsure of what it would be like. But it was great meeting all the people and realizing I would enjoy what Augsburg has to offer.”
Like many students, Grace’s Augsburg experience was possible in part due to the generosity of benefactors who support scholarship opportunities. Throughout the Great Returns campaign, donors have given to 150 endowed scholarships. “Without financial aid, I don’t think I would have been able to come here. It really took the stress of student loans off my back and helped me be a successful student all four years,” Grace said, who is graduating with a degree in finance.
Grace also shared what being on the basketball team has meant to her and how it enriched her college experience. “We’re like our own little family,” she said. “Beginning college can be scary, it’s like starting over, but I didn’t feel that way because I had already met my coaches and teammates ahead of time. I felt like I already had friends that I could talk to and could go to my coaches if I needed anything.” Grace feels the tight-knit community and communication attributed to the team’s success.
Another contributing factor to success is found in the renovated women’s locker room. During Augsbrug’s Great Returns campaign, a significant initiative was updating the women’s locker room. Through the generosity of Patricia Piepenburg ’69, the renovated space was unveiled in October of 2022. “It’s definitely improved our experience and makes us feel valued as athletes. I used to think locker rooms were just for changing because that’s what it’s been like my whole life, but now that we have this new space, it became a place where we could build community. We’re able to hang out, watch TV, and create bonds after practice or games,” Grace said.
This initiative was especially significant because it happened 50 years after the passage of Title IX. When thinking about the legacy of people like Patricia who came before her, Grace shared “It gives us a sense of pride to be part of something so historical, and motivates us to play because we understand and acknowledge the struggles women before us. When we won a championship last year it was the greatest feeling and I want to leave behind a legacy for future generations too.” As she thought about how philanthropy has life-changing effects, she shared, “Gifts like these send the message that students like me matter and drive me to be the best version of myself. It is a blessing to have peoples’ support.”
Learn more about Augsburg’s Great Returns efforts on our website.