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Lee’RayVone G’everdloaahn ’26 Named a Newman Civic Fellow

Lee'RayVone G'everdloaahn is wearing a black short-sleeved shirt and glassesLee’RayVone G’everdloaahn ’26 is among the student civic leaders recently named to the 2024–25 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows by Campus Compact.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes students who stand out for their commitment to creating positive change in communities locally and around the world. Fellows are nominated by Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors, who are invited to select one outstanding student from their campus each year.

G’everdloaahn is an Act Six Scholar with a double major in psychology and critical race and ethnicity studies and a minor in statistics. Outside of class, he is an active member of the Augsburg community, serving as the founder and president of the Poetry and Meaningful Writing Club, a residence life community advisor, chair of operations for Act Six at Augsburg, and a Bonner Community Leader. He has performed several spoken word pieces at major university functions, including the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation and Afrikan Night.

“Growing up in North Minneapolis, I’ve witnessed and experienced various community issues like police brutality, inadequate mental health resources, gang violence, addiction, and much more,” said G’everdloaahn. “Despite hoping for improvement time and time again, conditions have persisted, birthed in the fabric of American society for centuries. If there is one thing that Critical Race has taught me since I first began my study, it’s that these systems have been meticulously and oppressively constructed, and will require equal effort to dismantle. However, waiting passively for change isn’t an option … I aim to develop and enforce this change and be the hope I have always wanted to see.”

Campus Compact provides Newman Fellows with a year of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, fellows participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities to help provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive in-person skill-building and networking over the course of two days. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“Lee’RayVone brings the fullness of his experiences and curiosity to campus and the classroom,” wrote President Paul C. Pribbenow in his nomination letter. “A thoughtful and forthright student, he enriches Augsburg’s community of learners, teachers, and anyone else lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend some time with him.”

“We are honored to recognize such an outstanding group of community-committed students,” said Campus Compact President Bobbie Laur. “One of the best parts of the Newman Civic Fellowships is the richness of students’ perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds—and how these varied stories all led to their passionate engagement with the social, political, and environmental issues impacting our world. These students will be the catalysts for change on many levels, and we are privileged to help empower them to create that change.”

“I envision a world in which nobody has to ever “hope” for change to happen ever again, and I will make it a reality,” said G’everdloaahn.

Learn more about the Newman Civic Fellowship and about Lee’RayVone G’everdloaahn on Campus Compact’s website.

Augsburg Students Win Competitive National Scholarships, Fellowships

Luke Omodt smiles at camera while wearing a maroon shirt. Little waterfalls and greenery are behind him.
Luke Omodt ’25
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin smiles at the camera in a living room. She has brown eyes and a kind face.
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24
Elizabeth Goff smiles at the camera in front of a white background and bouquet of flowers.
Elizabeth Goff ’25
Sara Sirag smiles at the camera in front of a while wall. She's wearing a pink long sleeve shirt.
Sara Sirag ’25
Anna Hudak smiles at the camera. Her hair is curly, and she is outside.
Anna Hudak ’25

This spring, Augsburg students have received awards and scholarships from some of the top programs across the country, highlighting different disciplines, experiences, locations, and goals. Meet our award winners and explore their areas of interest. 

Goldwater Scholarship

Luke Omodt ’25 has been named a Goldwater Scholar, one of the top STEM awards in the country. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Omodt, a physics and chemistry double major, is currently conducting computational materials science research with Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Hickox-Young, which will continue into the summer thanks to funding from Dean and Amy Sundquist. Previously, Omodt conducted research with Assistant Professor of Physics Moumita Dasgupta, as well as at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. 

Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bulgaria. The education major is a member of the National Education Association Aspiring Educators program as well as Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Studies Honor Society. She has worked for Augsburg’s Writing Center and is currently student-teaching at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. To prepare for her Fulbright grant, Joswiak-McLaughlin has been volunteering at a number of animal rescue organizations, learning Bulgarian, and attempting to cook Bulgarian cuisine. 

Critical Language Scholarship Spark

Elizabeth Goff ’25 is majoring in psychology and has a double minor in studio art and religion. She won the Critical Language Scholarship Spark, a year-long program designed to help undergraduate students learn languages and enhance their global engagement. Over the summer, Goff will be studying Russian virtually. Only 10% of applicants win the award nationwide. She hopes to use this new knowledge to help her with her research in the future. “With CLS Spark, I will have the ability to expand my knowledge in other countries’ methods in research when it comes to social isolation, loneliness, and accessibility for homebound and at-risk populations,” Goff says.

Peace Scholars

On campus, Augsburg’s Norway Hub recently announced the 2024-25 Peace Scholars. Sara Sirag ’25 and Anna Hudak ’25 will be representing Augsburg University while in Norway this summer. The goal of the Peace Scholars program is to develop student leaders inspired to careers or lifelong interests in world peace issues. While attending University of Oslo International Summer School, these students will deepen their understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war, and peace. 

Sirag is a social work major and first-generation college student. She was born in Eritrea and raised in Minnesota. Her passion for prison reform and studying mass incarceration informs her interest in Norway and peace studies. She has a strong appreciation for Norway’s welfare systems and their prison systems rooted in rehabilitation and restorative justice. Her goal is to work with diverse populations while challenging and pushing herself to understand different systems. She believes in advocating for change and those enduring injustices across the world.

Hudak is an international relations and history double major, with a minor in music. She’s from Prior Lake, Minnesota. During her time studying abroad in Greece, Anna developed a passion for peace studies and promoting intercultural dialogue, recognizing its power as a catalyst for positive change in an increasingly interconnected world. In addition to teaching English in Greece after graduation, Anna hopes to use her affinity for writing and storytelling to illuminate underrepresented narratives and non-violent conflict resolutions as a peace journalist.

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding achievements!

Three Augsburg Students Receive Scholarships to Serve Rural Communities

In this headshot, Michaela Althaus is wearing a black blazer and dark hair half pulled back.
Michaela Althaus ’24 MSPAS
In this headshot, Evan Bloyer is wearing a blue collared shirt and clear, plastic-framed glasses.
Evan Bloyer ’27 PsyD
In this headshot, Gwen Hermanson is wearing a patterned neck scarf, a black top, and glasses against a purple background.
Gwen Hermanson ’24 MSW

Three graduate students in Augsburg University’s health professions programs have been awarded competitive scholarships to encourage their future plans to serve in rural communities. Michaela Althaus ’24 MSPAS, Evan Bloyer ’27 PsyD, and Gwen Hermanson ’24 MSW will each receive $25,000 to support their studies this academic year. 

Provided in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, each scholarship includes an agreement with MDH to practice in a rural area of Minnesota for two years following graduation. The funding for the scholarships is a new opportunity for Augsburg students, in addition to a larger health equity grant awarded to Augsburg’s Physician Assistant Program in 2023 to train students to practice in rural and underserved communities. When students train in rural and underserved settings, they are more likely to return upon graduating.

For each of the three scholarship recipients, the commitment to serving rural communities represents a return to their roots. “Working in rural healthcare settings over the past 10 years with underserved populations as both a nursing assistant and counselor for adolescent mental health and addiction has provided me with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities inherent in these areas,” said Althaus. “From remote clinics to close-knit communities, I have witnessed the resilience and cultural richness that define rural Minnesota and the health systems within.”

Associate Professor and PA Program Director Vanessa Bester applied for the grant on behalf of Augsburg’s health professions programs. “We are proud to support outstanding Augsburg students like Michaela, Evan, and Gwen in their journey to address healthcare disparities in rural Minnesota,” she said. “These scholarships are more than just financial assistance; they are a testament to Augsburg’s collective commitment to ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all. With this program, as well as several additional Minnesota Department of Health grants, Augsburg’s health professional graduates are set to make a real difference, shaping a healthier future for everyone in Minnesota.”

Learn more about how Augsburg’s health professions programs are working together to address the rural health care shortage.

Auggie Basics Receives Grant Funding to Support Students

Two maroon Augsburg banners in winter. The left banner is an Auggie the eagle graphic and the right says "We Are Called Auggies." Last week, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education awarded over $900,000 of Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS) grant funding. As one of 10 Minnesota institutions to receive a grant, Augsburg University will provide additional campus-run emergency assistance to students through Auggie Basics.

Auggie Basics is a series of programs designed to support the academic, social, and emotional aspects of students’ lives. Assistance includes books, food, housing, emergency funding, support services, technology, transportation, and more. The main goal for both EAPS funding and Auggie Basics is to ensure students don’t have to leave college in order to pay for unforeseen expenses. 

The EAPS funding is expected to help an additional 1,400 students at awarded institutions. Augsburg Dean of Students Michael Grewe says, “Our office typically receives hundreds of student requests for emergency funding each year, and this grant will provide aid to students for important resources.”

Read the full Minnesota Office of Higher Education news release.

Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2023 Fall Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 950 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Fall Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.

View the 2023 Fall Semester Dean’s List.

Students who wish to notify their hometown newspapers of their achievement can do so at their discretion using a news announcement template.

‘It Was Just Simple,’ Elsy-Marbeli Cruz-Parra ’27 Tells Forbes About Direct Admissions

ForbesForbes is the latest major media organization to highlight Augsburg’s leadership in coverage of the growing trend of direct admissions nationally. First-year biology major Elsy-Marbeli Cruz-Parra ’27 was interviewed for a Forbes ‘daily cover’ feature in late October. 

“By the end of October of 2022, based on her high school grades alone, she had been automatically admitted to 47 two-year or four-year colleges in Minnesota. “It was relieving,” says Cruz-Parra, the first in her family to attend college,” wrote reporter Emma Whitford.  

“Cruz was one of the lucky 7,340 students tapped to participate in the first year of Minnesota’s state-run direct admissions pilot program. “Hearing from other seniors who weren’t in the direct admissions program, they were like ‘You have that? God, I have to write essays and get recommendations’ … It was just simple. I had all my top colleges already there.” She’s now a freshman at Augsburg University, nine miles from her hometown of Richfield, following a pre-med track with a major in biology. She chose Augsburg because of its small class sizes, its location (she’s commuting), and because she received a $30,000 a year scholarship to attend.

Read the full piece in Forbes: “Hundreds Of Colleges Now Offer Automatic Admission To Students”

Augsburg Ranked as Most Ethnically Diverse Regional University in the Midwest

The class of 2027 poses outside of Old Main at the start of the 2023-24 academic year.Augsburg University is the most ethnically diverse regional university in the Midwest, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2024 rankings. U.S. News & World Report also ranked Augsburg #2 in undergraduate teaching, #3 for both social mobility and innovation, and #17 overall among the regional universities in the Midwest this year. 

To identify colleges where students are most likely to encounter undergraduates from racial or ethnic groups different from their own, U.S. News factors in the total proportion of students who identify as non-Hispanic African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Asian, non-Hispanic white, and multiracial (two or more races), as well as the overall mix of groups. The data for this year’s rankings was drawn from each institution’s fall 2022 total undergraduate student body. The formula produces a diversity index that ranges from 0 to 1, with a high number indicating more diversity. Augsburg’s diversity index in this year’s ranking is 0.73. 

Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 95 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.

View the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List.

Students who wish to notify their hometown newspapers of their achievement can do so at their discretion using a news announcement template.

Augsburg Health Commons Bring Drop-In Care to New Locations

PA faculty member Vanessa Bester is seated on a stool providing foot care at a Health Commons location.The Augsburg Health Commons is expanding to bring its proven model of accompaniment-based care to more neighbors through new partnerships and locations.

Late last year, an agreement with M Health Fairview and Redeemer Center for Life formalized a partnership at the Living Room in the Harrison neighborhood of north Minneapolis, where a drop-in site based on the Health Commons model had operated since 2012. Following a disruption of in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the site was re-opened in October 2022 under the leadership of Augsburg Physician Assistant Program Director Vanessa Bester.  

This summer, the first Health Commons in St. Paul opened in the Conway Community Center through a partnership with M Health Fairview, the Sanneh Foundation, and the East Side Health & Well-Being Collaborative. Health Commons Executive Director Katie Clark and Augsburg Board of Regents Chair Dennis Meyer will join St. Paul community leaders on August 16 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Health Commons East

These new locations join long-standing Health Commons sites at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis and in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

“Our nursing and physician assistant faculty, along with our students, are committed to the vision of a drop-in center that focuses on the needs of the communities we serve to address health inequities and other deep-rooted issues faced when seeking care,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Augsburg is especially pleased to extend our efforts to the East Side St. Paul neighborhood.”

Augsburg’s Health Commons sites are health-focused drop-in centers led and organized by nursing and physician assistant faculty members, Augsburg students, volunteers, and community members. Developed by Augsburg nursing faculty in the early 1990s, the Health Commons model is founded on principles of hospitality and relationship development that leads to transcultural understanding and health benefits for all participants. 

The people who come to the Health Commons are from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and many are unhoused or marginally housed. Health concerns might include nutrition, medication, stress management, respiratory conditions, injuries, skin problems, and chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. Everyone is welcome, and all services are provided free of charge, without proof of need or time constraints. 

Augsburg’s PA program has taken on a growing role as new partnerships and locations have developed. The PA program has led the expansion of services at the Cedar-Riverside Health Commons, connecting with community members providing foot care, a need across many marginalized communities. 

“The PA program is humbled and honored to bring the model of accompaniment-based care into our curriculum and medical practice. Faculty, staff and students are able to build connections, meet people where they are at in their health journey, and learn how health inequities are impacting the people we care for every day. The Harrison neighborhood, Cedar-Riverside, Central Lutheran, and now East St. Paul are the paradigm of what providing health and care should look like in every community,” said Bester. 

To learn more, volunteer, or support the Health Commons, visit augsburg.edu/healthcommons.

MPR Highlights Growing StepUP Partnerships

MPR News logoA leader in the collegiate recovery movement for more than 25 years, StepUP® at Augsburg University is now poised to reach more students through new partnerships with Twin Cities-area colleges and universities. Minnesota Public Radio recently featured StepUP Director Ericka Otterson, Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator Nell Hurley, and Ethan Laugen ’24 in a story about the need for recovery support in higher education. 

StepUP provides an array of support services for students in recovery, including sober living college experience in Oren Gateway Center, weekly meetings with alcohol and drug counselors, and access to a strong alumni network. With new partnerships forming post-COVID-19, including a formal agreement with the University of St. Thomas, these resources will be available to more students from across the Twin Cities metro. 

“There’s no shortage of need, and students time and again will say the community has been the most valuable aspect of participating in this program,” Otterson told MPR. “So the larger the community is each year, the more opportunity there is for that.”

“This is my community,” said Laugen. “Instead of a student group or a frat, it’s StepUP. These are my people who get me, who understand me, who I get along with. And it has given me the college experience in the way that I needed a college experience.”

Listen or read more via MPR: “Amid addiction need, Augsburg’s student recovery program seeks more participants”