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Justin Grammens ’96 Helps STEM Students By Giving

Justin smalls for the photo in front of a blurred backgroundJustin Grammens ’96 is a mathematics major who grew up in Minneapolis. His mother was a teacher for Minneapolis public schools, and his father worked as a doctor at Fairview Riverside, located across the street from Augsburg.

Grammens said he was familiar with the area and Augsburg, and one aspect that drew him to the school were the small class sizes which gave him a better connection to his classmates and instructors.

“My original plan was to start at a liberal arts school [Augsburg], then transfer to an engineering school,” Grammens said. “But when I transferred from Augsburg, I was sitting in a classroom with hundreds of other students and being taught by a TA, and I felt like why am I here?”

He ended up transferring back to Augsburg and completing his degree. But Grammens said it wasn’t just the small class sizes that inspired him to return to Augsburg, it was also the urban environment and the abundance of diversity that Augsburg offers.

At Augsburg, Grammens was able to build relationships with many different people that he maintained after graduation. He has even come back to campus on multiple occasions and spoken with students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields about his career.

Grammens is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, teaching a class for their masters of software engineering program. He said that he is proud to bring the skills that he learned at Augsburg and share them with his students.

“A lot of the classes at Augsburg were exploratory and non-traditional,” Grammens said. “It was really about thought process, application, collaboration, and problem solving.”

Around 2006, he started a company that was one of the first in the Twin Cities to develop mobile apps for major companies, and that’s when he said he felt like he had the income to give back.

“It breaks my heart if somebody is kicking butt in math, chemistry, or physics, and they know they want to be an engineer, but the barrier is just that they don’t have the money,” Grammens said. “I’m passionate about giving to STEM programs because those students are working with technologies that are changing our lives, and I want to support that.”

Grammens continues to make a positive impact on the lives of Augsburg students with annual donations to STEM programs, and you can too.

Donate to STEM programs and support Augsburg students as they conduct research with faculty, attend and present at national conferences, and hear from leading researchers.

Any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Learn more ways to give.

Experience a life of giving with Wayne Kendrick ’68

When Wayne Kendrick ’68, a religion and math major, enrolled at Augsburg as a junior, he was in the process of change. Wayne Kendrick smiles for a photo in front of a wooden backdrop

He spent years working towards becoming an actuary, but not long after his adult baptism, Kendrick would hear life calling him in a different direction. 

That’s when he started searching for Lutheran schools to attend. Kendrick said he wanted one with a different atmosphere than that which he had been accustomed to, mostly growing up in western South Dakota. 

Before even visiting Augsburg, Kendrick was drawn to the idea of a Lutheran college located in an area with vast cultural diversity and educational opportunities.

“I had a saying that I went by when I was in college,” Kendrick said. “Education shouldn’t get in the way of your life’s education.”

Kendrick recounted doing volunteer night patrols with the Way Center on the troubled streets of North Minneapolis and participating in a march for fair housing in Milwaukee with his college roommate and Father Groppi. He attributed these memories to an enriched college and life experience. 

“Although I only attended Augsburg for two years, it had a real profound impact on my life,” Kendrick said with a look of fondness and appreciation. 

After graduating, his giving journey began when he purchased a life insurance policy with Augsburg as the beneficiary. Kendrick would go on to enroll at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul and would later become a pastor. 

Kendrick continues to give back to the community that has influenced his life so immensely with multiple donations to the StepUp® program and an annual gift to the Augsburg Fund. 

“I know without our [donor’s] gifts, large or small, Augsburg simply wouldn’t exist,” Kendrick said. “It’s not just enough to be appreciative, one must also make sure that others can enjoy the benefits that we, ourselves, have enjoyed.”

Join Kendrick and ensure students have an opportunity to receive the educational and life experiences they deserve by making your donation today! 

Any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Learn more ways to give.

Remembering Sylvia Ann Sabo

Sylvia Ann Sabo (nee Lee), 85, passed away on October 26, 2022. Sylvia Sabo sits at a table and does a puzzle.

Sylvia attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and became a registered nurse. Her close connection to Augsburg began when she returned to Minneapolis, after spending a year as a traveling nurse, and married her husband, Martin Olav Sabo ’59.

U.S. Representative Martin Olav Sabo ‘59, who passed away at age 78 on March 13, 2016, was a lifelong public servant who exemplified the progressive approach and personal integrity that were modeled in his Lutheran upbringing and education. 

Sylvia also found meaning in service. She was a long-time member of the Augsburg Associates, serving on the board and working on estate sales, events, and fundraising for the scholarship support of Augsburg students.

In addition, Sylvia was an active member of the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis, a PTA president, and participated in the Seward community orchestra, an assembly of amateur neighborhood musicians. She also enjoyed singing at the Trinity Lutheran Church on Riverside Avenue. The couple had two children, Karin Mantor ‘86 and Julie Sabo ‘90, who also attended Augsburg.

Martin and Sylvia Sabo pose for a picture in front of a dark backdrop The Sabo Center for Citizenship and Learning was founded on lessons that come from Sylvia and Martin’s work. 

In 2014, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Sabo Center were combined into a single entity, bringing together these two traditions of public service and citizen engagement. 

Today, the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship is recognized for its innovative leadership in democracy education, public work philosophy, experiential learning, and place-based engagement.

President Paul Pribbenow shared, “Sylvia Sabo was a beloved part of the Augsburg community. After Martin retired from the U.S. House of Representatives, and he and Sylvia returned to Minnesota, we enjoyed their warm hospitality for students and faculty as they shared their passion for public service and community engagement. The Sabo name will reside permanently on our center, organized to promote democracy and citizenship – recognition of both Sylvia and Martin who modeled for all of us what it means to be good citizens. Abigail and I will miss Sylvia’s warm smile and gracious presence in our midst.

The funeral service will be held on Monday, Nov. 7, at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel, 10:00 AM, followed by a brunch and interment. 

Read Sylvia’s official obituary.