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Meet the 2019-20 Interfaith Scholars

Group photo of 2019-20 Interfaith Scholars with Pastor Sonja and Professor Lori Hale

Learn more about this year’s Interfaith Scholars

Natalya Arevalo ‘20

Hometown: South Minneapolis, MN
Majors: Political Science and Philosophy

At Augsburg I learned how to communicate better. I chose to become an Interfaith because I wanted to learn more about different religions and how to build community among diverse religions.

Rivka Buchbinder ‘21

Hometown: Saint Louis Park, MN
Major: Elementary Education Special Education
Minor: Religion

I have learned that we are all welcome and we all have a story to tell. Augsburg allows us that opportunity to showcase who were are and what makes us us. I am someone who is really passionate about interfaith dialogue and dissuasion. I think it’s important for people to be able to talk about who they are and what they believe. We live our lives in different ways and practice different religions and it’s important to give people an opportunity to express and talk about who they are. I have also always had a passion for learning about different peoples religion, cultures and customs. I love how being in Interfaith Scholars allows me the opportunity to talk with my fellow classmates about who they are and what they believe. I have also loved having our dinner and dialogue where we create a space for students and the community to come and talk about different topics and ideas as they pertain to an interfaith discussion.

Abby Garofalo ‘21

Hometown: Farmington, MN
Major: Biology

Augsburg has helped me learn how to engage with people and communities that differ from my own thoughts and beliefs, and I believe I am ever better for it. I chose to be an Interfaith scholar because I wanted to learn more about how different faiths and non-religious traditions engage with each other in our increasingly diverse world.

Ava Fojtik ‘20

Hometown: Oshkosh, WI
Major: Religion with Concentrations in World Religions and Interfaith Studies
Minors: English with a Concentration in Writing and Theatre

I have learned a ton at Augsburg! As a religion major, I’ve focused a lot on learning about concepts like liberation theology, how Christianity differs around the world, and interfaith work. I’ve also had two incredible internships working with Muslim and Jewish communities, respectively. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar because I think interfaith work is integral to promoting peace and understanding in our diverse world.

Tofunmi Oteju ‘21

Hometown: Lagos,Nigeria
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology

I have learned how to be a better ally to different social groups at Augsburg. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholars because I wanted to be in a space where I could have intentional dialogue about different faith and non-faith traditions but also bring my perspective being an international student to the discussion.

Abdikhaliq Sahal ‘20

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

At Augsburg, I have learned many lessons on inclusion and diversity that have come to better shape my worldview and through support I have been allowed to partake in wonderful study abroad experiences as well as cohorts like the interfaith scholars program. Augsburgs emphasis on it’s students being critical thinkers and thoughtful stewards after their time at Augsburg has greatly prepared me for life after college. I chose to be an interfaith scholar because inclusive work that helps bridge communities together is essential to the future of our nation and too often the world tries to create divides in people but the nature of interfaith work is to aid in doing the opposite. I believe a lack of information is in part why people are so fearful of a religion different from themselves so I also become an interfaith scholar to familiarize with people of different backgrounds and to simultaneously teach/learn in a space that is welcoming.

Javier Sanchez ‘21

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Major: Finance

At Augsburg, I learned to be open minded and have a positive influence on those around you. I chose to be an interfaith scholar because I wanted to experience working with a cohort of different beliefs and see what goals we can accomplish.

Mohamed Sheikhomar ‘21

Hometown: Bloomington, MN
Major: Management Information Systems.

I have learned the value of community at Augsburg. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar to help bridge the gap between all religions.

Isaac Tadé ‘21

Hometown: Windom, MN
Major: Biology
Minor: Religion

I’ve learned to never make assumptions on someone’s beliefs and to be conscientious about where people are coming from in situations. I chose to be an Interfaith Scholar to learn from others in the Augsburg community who come from different cultures and backgrounds.

Sophie Warnberg ‘20

Hometown: Chanhassen, MN
Major: Theology and Public Leadership with a Concentration in Youth Studies
Minor: Theater

At Augsburg, I have learned to put my faith and core beliefs into action. I also have learned to become an ally to people whose voices may not always be heard. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar because I knew that I would have the opportunity to learn about different faith traditions and practices that are different from mine own, and that I would also have the opportunity to share my faith traditions and practices with others.

Peace in the Middle East: Challenges and Signs of Hope

Join Interfaith at Augsburg for a Brown Bag Lunch discussion with visiting lecturer Munib Younan, retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former president of the Lutheran World Federation.

Bishop Munib Younan
Bishop Munib Younan

Wednesday, October 2
12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.m.

Oren Gateway Center, Room 100

Bishop Younan’s parents were Palestinian refugees. His entire life and leadership have been focused on finding a lasting, just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and building up the civic agency of Palestinian people.

Read Bishop Younan’s full bio online.

Bring your questions, and feel free to bring your own lunch!

Jewish High Holy Day Primer 2019

From: Interfaith@Augsburg and Hillel at Augsburg

Below is a “High Holy Day Primer”-

  1. This is the Jewish High Holy Day season, which runs for the entire lunar month of Tishrei this year from Sunday evening, September 29 -Tuesday, October 30. Though Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are on secular calendars, there is another 9-day holiday called Sukkot, right after Yom Kippur. It is a big harvest celebration.
  2. For college students, being away from home for these holidays can highlight the homesickness and the yearning to be in the nest, and for some, quite the opposite. If you celebrate Christmas, imagine staying on campus while most students return home for the holiday. If you celebrate Ramadan, this season is similar to that month of observance. There is now a Jewish student organization on campus called Hillel and students will try to find places for meals and for services. All synagogues and the University of Minnesota Hillel will welcome students, and we can help connect them.
  3. The second set of holidays, Sukkot, is likely much less observed among our students and faculty, though some students will not go to class on the first and last days of Sukkot. Supplemental reading can be found in Exodus 34:22 and Leviticus 23:42-43 for the biblical source of this holiday).
  4. There is a wide swath of Jewish observance among your Augsburg students, faculty and staff. Some adhere closely to the traditions, so they don’t write or use electricity on these major holidays. Others have very secular experiences, don’t celebrate these at all, or focus mostly on the feasting, not the religious and spiritual aspects of these holidays.
  5. The appropriate greeting for this season is, “Sha-NAH to-VAH”. meaning Happy New Year.
  6. How to be an ally:  All of this is to encourage you to have conversations with your Jewish students and colleagues about their observances. The Jewish students may or may not self-identify, so you may want to invite any Jewish students/faculty to talk with you about what this next month is for them, vis a vis classes. They will likely welcome the questions or the greetings. And you could also move important meetings or events away from Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  The 2019 dates for these holidays are:

Sunday, September 29, Rosh Hashannah begins at sundown.

Monday, September 30 is the first day of Rosh Hashannah.  Some American Jews celebrate for one day, others for two (we can discuss the lunar calendar another time).

Tuesday, October 1 is the second day of Rosh Hashannah for some Jews.

Tuesday, October 8, Yom Kippur begins an hour before sundown. Yom Kippur ends around 7:30pm Wednesday, October 9.

Sukkot begins at sundown on Sunday, October 13, and the first two days are “Holy Days” where some Jews don’t work, use electricity, engage in commerce. We build a sukkah (booth) and eat most of our meals there for 8 days, even if it rains or snows. The first half of Sukkot ends at an hour after sundown Tuesday, October 15.

Sukkot ends at sundown on either on October 18 or October 20, depending on personal observance. Again, a majority of American Jews do not celebrate this holiday or even know what it’s about.

2019-20 Augsburg Interfaith Fellows

We are pleased to announce Augsburg’s Interfaith Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year: Busshō Lahn, Chris Stedman ’08, and Ger Vang

The Augsburg Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to interreligious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work is coordinated by the newly created Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership and includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus.

Bussho LahnBusshō Lahn is a Senior Priest at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and is on the leadership team of Aslan Institute in Eagan, MN. Busshō came to Zen Buddhism in 1993, was ordained in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. He is a certified spiritual director, connecting with and walking with those who wish to deepen an intentional and contemplative spiritual life. He sees the intimate connection between our deeply held spiritual beliefs and the workings of our day-to-day mind and heart. The connection between spirituality and psychology is the area Bussho loves to explore, as well as encouraging and supporting spiritual lives, regardless of faith tradition.

Bussho is grounded in contemplative spirituality, interfaith experience, addiction recovery, and shadow integration. He is experienced in overseas pilgrimage and retreat facilitation, classroom education, and public speaking on a variety of spiritual subjects. His special interests include Zen ritual and ceremony, poetry, interfaith dialogue, and the works of the great mystics. He lives in Eden Prairie with his wonderful wife Karen.

  • From Bussho –  I wish to keep offering myself as a resource on Zen, Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness to classes & students in whatever capacity I can. I have a relatively flexible schedule, with normal class/working hours being especially available. I’d love to meet more Auggies!

Chris Stedman 2019Chris Stedman is a humanist community organizer, interfaith activist, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, “an intimate and deeply affecting portrait… [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch” (Booklist, Starred Review). Chris is also the founding executive director of the Humanist Center of Minnesota, a project through which he and a group of researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying the beliefs, practices, and community involvement of the religiously unaffiliated. Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, he also worked as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a content developer for the Interfaith Youth Core.

Chris has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Fox News, has spoken at hundreds of conferences and universities, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, VICE, The Los Angeles Review of Books, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, Salon, The Washington Post, and others. Details magazine named him one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo” and Mic called him “the millennial who’s busting every stereotype about atheists.” He is currently finishing work on his next book, IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (forthcoming from Fortress Press), which examines what it means to be human in the age of social media, and he also writes THREAD, an occasional newsletter exploring the threads that connect online and offline life. Chris holds a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion from Augsburg (with minors in English and Social Welfare) and an M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. In 2018 Augsburg selected him for their annual First Decade Award, which recognizes alumni “who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community” ten years after graduating. Learn more at

  • From Chris – “I’m thrilled to start my third year as an interfaith fellow at Augsburg and can’t wait to continue learning from and with this wonderful community. I especially love visiting classes and engaging in conversation with students about humanism, secular worldviews, interfaith work, and my own undergraduate experience at Augsburg. Please reach out if you have any ideas or questions about ways we might work together.”

To invite Bussho or Chris to your speak with your class or connect with your group, please contact for their contact information.

Batalden interfaith Fellow

Ger Vang

Ger Vang is Hmong Shaman currently living in Saint Paul. He is from a family and culture with long history of shamanism and spiritual healers. His late father was a gifted healer; his grandfather was also a shaman. Ger began his own spiritual journey as a healer six years ago. The Power of Spiritual Healing chose him. The spiritual guides, the source of his healing gift, provide him with the necessary spiritual training in diagnosing illnesses and healing practices. Besides being a spiritual healer, he is a musician. He is also the Vice President of Training and Development for the Generational Financial Group, a local insurance firm. If you’re interested in having Ger visit your class, please contact him at If you have any questions, please feel free to email Bibiana Koh, Batalden Scholar in Applied Ethics, at

Leadership for Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership

Rev. Mark S. Hanson headshot

We are pleased to announce Mark Hanson has transitioned from his role as executive director of the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) to help develop Augsburg’s new institute to promote interreligious leadership.

Bio for Mark S. Hanson

Serving as the Founding Director of Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Inter-Religious Leadership, Rev. Mark S. Hanson leads Augsburg University’s commitment to interfaith leadership being a core aspect of Augburg’s academic mission. Interfaith leadership presumes knowledge, skills and sensibilities and is embedded in both curricular and co-curricular dimensions of the Augsburg experience. It involves theological education, spiritual engagement, everyday experiences, global education and social action.

Prior to his current appointment, Hanson served as presiding bishop of the ELCA. He was elected to this position by the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA in August 2001 and was reelected in 2007. In 2003, he was elected to serve, concurrently, as president of the Lutheran World Federation, a position he held until 2010.

Before being elected as ELCA presiding bishop, he served as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod (3H). He had been elected to serve a second term in Saint Paul earlier that same year. Prior to being elected synod bishop, he served as pastor of three Minnesota congregations: Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; Edina (Minnesota) Community Lutheran Church; and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. 

Born in Minneapolis on December 2, 1946, he graduated from Augsburg College with a B.A. in sociology. He was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and received a Master of Divinity degree there in 1972. He also attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School in 1979. 

In his work as president of the Lutheran World Federation and as presiding bishop of the ELCA, Hanson has traveled widely throughout the world, sharing a confident hope in God’s promises and a vision of the joyful freedom in Christian community and mission. 

Hanson is widely known as a leader with an evangelical passion and imagination who embraces the Christian tradition, the Christian community, and the world with both generous goodwill and thoughtful insight. He has been an articulate advocate for the renewal of the church’s preaching and public voice, for the strengthening of ecumenical and inter-religious relationships, and for reconciliation and justice in society, with attention especially to those who live with poverty and discrimination. 

Hanson has received several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humane Letters from Augsburg College, Wittenberg University, and Grand View University, Doctor of Humanities from Capital University, Doctor of Divinity from Lenoir-Rhyne College, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Susquehanna University, Wartburg College, and The Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration.

He is the author of Faithful Yet Changing, the Church in Challenging Times and Faithful and Courageous, Christians in Unsettling Times both from Augsburg Fortress, Publishers. 

Married to Ione (Agrimson), they are the parents of Aaron, Alyssa, Rachel, Ezra, Isaac and Elizabeth, and grandparents to Naomi, Kingston, Sam, Danielle and Sophia. Before moving to Chicago, Ione was the director of social work at Minneapolis and St. Paul Children’s Hospitals.

2018-19 Christensen Interfaith Fellows

We are pleased to announce the Christensen and Batalden Interfaith Fellows for the 2018-19 academic year:

Christensen Interfaith Fellows – Wendy Goldberg, Busshō Lahn and Chris Stedman ’08

Batalden Interfaith Fellow – Ger Vang

The Christensen and Batalden Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to inter-religious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work will be coordinated by the Christensen Center for Vocation and Batalden Professor in Applied Ethics. It includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus.
Continue reading “2018-19 Christensen Interfaith Fellows”

2017-18 Interfaith Scholars

Chung Lip

Hometown: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology

This community is special for everyone. It is not just a place to come and get a degree, but a place that I have learned to care, to love and after all, to explore my life-long core commitment. With the resources given by this community, I have exposed to many experiences, just to list a few, being a Certified Nursing Assistant at St. Lucas Health Care Center, Faribault, MN, Genetic research intern with Dr. Matthew Beckman through URGO, and Mayo Innovation Scholar and many more opportunities that I would never have dreamt of. My proudest academic achievement was the 2016-2017 Linda Schrempp Alberg Endowed Leadership Award. After graduation, I plan to attend a graduate program in Public Health.

HA DONG (CASSIE) ‘18Ha Dong Cassie

Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam
Major: Marketing and International Business
Minor: Graphic Design

I enjoyed working for non-profit organization where I know that I can use my passion and talents to benefit people in need. Last year, I was a Digital and Graphic Design Intern for The Arc Greater Twin Cities, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. I am currently a Graphic Design Intern for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, helping them to design and create promotional materials to support various social services. I love how Augsburg University is inclusive, welcoming, and open-mined. I feel inspired seeing so many students, professors, faculties, and staffs who are extremely involved in community engagement, building a supportive, diverse community at Augsburg and the wider Twin Cities.

BLAIR STEWIG ‘18Blair Stewig

Hometown: Buffalo, MN
Major: Biology
Minors: Chemistry, Religion, Environmental Studies

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the welcoming community and all of the wonderful experiences I have had here, including studying abroad with the Augsburg River semester and a Trip to Peru with the Augsburg cross country team and doing research in the Augsburg Biophysics lab. Outside of Augsburg, I was a summer research fellow for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic and a summer research fellow at Baylor College of Medicine. After graduation, I plan to conduct research through a Post-bac program and then enroll in an MD/PhD program.

FRANCESCA CHIARI ‘19Francesca Chiari

Hometown: Reggio Emilia, Italy
Majors: Communication, New Media Science
Minors: Psychology, Film

Augsburg has helped me by pushing me to challenge myself to a point I did not know I could. I became more educated on the social aspect- related to current issues, and more open minded, as well as more willing to make a change. This year, I am collaborating with faculty to improve services offered on campus as well to have more efficient Diversity, Inclusion and Equality education for students. My proudest academic achievement was winning Junior of the Year last spring and making it into the Dean’s List every semester since I arrived to Augsburg. After graduation, I plan to travel as much as I can before stabilizing in one place.

KITANA HOLLAND ‘19Kitana Holland

Hometown: Brooklyn Park/Coon Rapids
Major: Sociology
Minor: Religion

My first time out of the country was participating in the Central America: Faith, Vocation, and Social Change in Nicaragua during spring break of 2017. Following that, I studied abroad in Oslo, Norway as a Peace Scholar studying welfare state and Peace studies regarding immigration policies, a research project, and brainstorming ways to build a divided world at International Summer School. I have also had the chance to travel to Berlin, Germany to visit a concentration camp, the Holocaust Museum, East Side Art Gallery, Berlin Wall Memorial, and met a Holocaust survivor.

CHAD BERRYMAN ‘19Chad Berryman

Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Majors: Philosophy, Spanish, and Religion

Augsburg provides myriad opportunities for its students to explore how education fits into the bigger picture of one’s life. I spent last summer studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and that experience has helped me identify and question assumptions which would not have been brought into focus had I stayed in the comfort of Minneapolis.  Also, small class sizes have allowed me to truly get to know my professors, and those relationships have deepened my passion for learning.  After graduation, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.

LEX DORFMAN ‘19Lex Dorfman

Hometown: Hopkins
Major: Religion
Minors: Spanish and Leadership

I enjoy dancing, camping, cooking, and hanging out with friends. I love building communities as well. My favorite thing about Augsburg is how supportive the faculty and staff members are.

Lucy Sukar

Hometown: Prior Lake, MN
Major: Computer Science

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the community it creates. There is so much support not only from the students, but also from the faculty to succeed and support each other in personal and professional development. The summer of my first year, I interned with The Washington Center internship program, in which I studied in Washington, D.C for the summer, attended networking and career exploratory events, and spent 40 hours a week at an internship site of my choice. After graduation, I plan to work for a nonprofit or government position so that I may help further cultivate the future of our country.

Sarah Estey

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Major: Art History
Minor: Psychology

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the school’s commitment to integrity and accountability to the tenets of faith. Outside of class, I raise my two children Shea Apollo and Sidra Alia with the aid of my mothers, spiritual mentors, their Early Childcare center, and the Minneapolis Public schools early intervention program. I am an Intern for the Saint Hildegard Von Bingen Archives at The Archdiocese and Chancery of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. I had a study abroad experience in Assisi Italy, summer of 2009, Assisi Performing Arts Festival chorale student. After graduation, I plan to achieve my Master’s in Art History with a focus on Arts of Faith and Sacred Spaces.


Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Major: Exercise Science

For the past three years I have worked as a Personal Care Attendant for seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. My experiences in this field have taught me how to exercise empathy and compassion, which are two qualities that Augsburg has further invoked and nurtured in me. I am incredibly proud to be an Auggie, Interfaith Scholar, and a part of this vibrant community in which I can work, learn, and grow alongside others.


Christensen Interfaith Fellows, 2017-18

The following three individuals have been appointed as Augsburg’s inaugural Christensen Interfaith Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year: Abdisalam Adam, Wendy Goldberg, and Chris Stedman ’08.

The Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to inter-religious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work will be coordinated by the Christensen Center for Vocation and includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus. Continue reading “Christensen Interfaith Fellows, 2017-18”

2016-17 Interfaith Scholars

YOUSIF AL-HAJIBY ‘17Yousif Al-Hajiby

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Majors: Accounting and Finance

Professors, faculty members, mentors, and friends always make me feel like we are a big family that is trying to learn from each other at Augsburg. The strong communication between me and the professors always push me to go the extra mile. Augsburg has opened my eyes to many opportunities such as internships and potential future jobs. Also connected me with mentors that helped me to understand the work environment and how to be more productive. After graduation, I plan to work for the government and start my own company.

grace corbin ’17Grace Corbin

Hometown: Grantsburg, Wisconsin
Major: Youth and Family Ministry
Minor: Peace and Global Studies

I am involved in Campus Ministry, Campus Kitchen, and admissions tour guide. I am also in Student Government, serving as Senior Class President and on the Environmental Action Committee. I worked at the Restoration Center at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis and I studied abroad in Namibia and South Africa. Augsburg has changed me in many ways. I have become more open-minded and politically engaged. Augsburg has taught me how to be an informed, active citizen.


Hometown: Burnsville, Minnesota
Major: Biopsychology

I’m currently a Hospice Volunteer through HealthPartners Hospice and Palliative Care and I volunteer in the kids department at my Church. I’m an Academic Coach at a local high school, helping students learn how to work in small groups to prepare them for college. I’m also a Personal Care Attendant, I’ve been with my client for four years and we do lots of fun activities together! After graduation I plan to go to graduate school to obtain my Masters in Counseling and become a Licensed Professional Counselor. I know that my purpose in life is to help those who are struggling with mental illness.


Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Majors: Communications and Sociology

Augsburg has definitely contributed to a more holistic understanding of the world around me and it’s diverse population, all with different circumstances that shape their experiences in society. Understanding these differences is extremely valuable, especially considering my privilege. I have a weekly service commitment at a club off campus that is very near and dear to my heart. Last year, I served on StepUP’s Leadership Team and assisted in the coordination of a host of events for StepUP Students. I’m an advocate for animals and work with SecondHand Hounds as a foster for animals who are waiting to be adopted.

BLAKE A. halvorson ’17Blake Halvorson

Hometown: Faribault, Minnesota
Majors: Management Information Systems and Marketing

Community service and volunteer activities I am involved with include StepUP Leadership Team’s Trusted Servant, StepUP Solutions Board, Contact for multiple treatment center service opportunities, Interfaith Scholar, Augsburg Intramurals, StepUP Tour Guide when needed, StepUP mentor for new students, Daily Miscellaneous Service when presented with the opportunity. My proudest academic achievement was getting Outstanding Junior of the Year.

Imann hodleh ’18Imann Hodleh

Imann Hodleh ‘18

Hometown: Born in The Netherlands, Resident of Plymouth, Minnesota
Major: Political Science
Minor: Management Information Systems

Getting into the Model United Nations program was my proudest academic achievement. Prior to it I didn’t think I’d actually like it but after getting accepted into it I decided to just give it a chance. I ended up loving it and learning so much about international politics. It inspired me to want to work with foreign policy post-graduation. Taking part in the debates and discussions surrounding global affairs taught me a lot and just travelling to New York City, that experience alone opened doors for me as I got to visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters. After graduation, I plan to travel for a year, learning the history of the world. When I come back however I’d like to connect back with my supervisor from the International Institute of Minnesota and work there for a couple years, learning more about the way refugee services function on a national level. I hope to then move on to doing foreign policy work overseas regarding refugees. I’d also at some point like to aid in the rebuilding of Somalia’s infrastructure and hope to use my political and historical knowledge in doing so.

blake Miller ’17Blake Miller

Hometown: Staples, Minnesota
Major: Biology
Minor: Religion

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the intimate class setting and the ability to immerse myself in various different environments. Augsburg has taught me to always be questioning and searching for the truth, and to understand when that might not be possible. After I graduate I plan on applying to dental school and work in a biology research lab.

Danny Polaschek ’17Danny Polashek

Hometown: Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Majors: English (Literature, Language, and Theory) and Creative Writing
Minor: Business Administration

My favorite thing about Augsburg is the general inclusivity, coming here has opened my eyes and vastly broadened my horizons. During the fall semester of my junior year, I was an intern at the Ranelagh Arts Centre in Dublin, Ireland. This year, I will be working with Bob Cowgill and Doug Green on a short story collection.


Casey Regnier ’17Casey Regnier

Hometown: Neenah, Wisconsin
Major: Biopsychology
Minor: Peace and Global Studies

I regularly teach swimming to a multi-generational group of East African women in my local community through the Health Commons. After graduation, I plan to take a gap year and go to Physician Assistant school.

Muslim Identities in Minnesota

PMuslim Voices MNresentations by Cawo Abdi and Nahid Khan (University of Minnesota)

Moderated by Fardosa Hassan (Augsburg College)

Date & Time: Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 7:00 PM

Admission: free and open to the public

Location: Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center, Augsburg College

In the 21st century there is a plethora of clichés, stereotypes, and over-generalizations about Muslims in Minnesota, where there are also a variety of different ways of being Muslim. In this panel, Professor Abdi and Ph.D. candidate Khan will explore the diversity of Muslims in Minnesota today and the many contexts shaping their lives and identities. Professor Abdi will draw on her recently published book on the Somali diaspora, Elusive Jannah, and Khan will present data from her research on the portrayal of Islam and Muslims in Twin Cities media over the last several decades.  This is the second in a series on Muslim Identities co-sponsored with the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas.  The first, “Muslim Identities in North America,” features Professors Meena Sharify-Funk (Wilfred Laurier University) and Nahid Khan, speaking at 7pm, Monday, September 26, in Woulfe Alumni Hall, University of St. Thomas.

Cawo Abdi

Cawo Abdi is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Professor Abdi’s research areas are migration, family and gender relations, development, Africa and the Middle East. She has published on these topics in various journals and is the author of a book, “Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity,” University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Nahid Khan

Nahid Khan is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a religious studies graduate minor at the University of Minnesota. Khan also serves as special consultant to the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas. Active in community interfaith dialogue since the 1980s, with a particular focus on Muslim-Jewish dialogue, she was a Muslim delegate at the North American Interfaith Colloquium held at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in 1999 and 2000 and she served for eight years on the board of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, an interfaith advocacy group addressing social justice issues in Minnesota.  She is also a trained guide for the Collection in Focus program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and a board member of Mizna, an Arab-American cultural and arts organization based in the Twin Cities.

Sponsored by the Bernhard Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg College in collaboration with the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas, as well as the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of St. Thomas.