In March, Augsburg was awarded a $115,000 grant to continue offering Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment), a program that provides underrepresented students with scholarships, paid internships, and mentorship in an effort to break down barriers and provide long-term opportunity. The highly successful program, now in its sixth year at Augsburg, is poised to have 15 Travelers EDGE scholars on campus this fall—its largest cohort yet.
This prestigious program—open to only 12 colleges in the United States—has lifetime payoffs for students, including the chance to find challenging and rewarding careers in the insurance and financial services industry. To get there, each Travelers EDGE scholar works with a career coach and a professional mentor at Travelers and participates in financial literacy programming.
Marlene Ibsen, vice president of community relations at Travelers, said Augsburg was already doing great work and made for a natural Travelers EDGE partner.
“Everything and everyone we encountered at Augsburg, including President Pribbenow and throughout the organization, made us think, ‘This is a team of people who really get it and would be outstanding additions to the Travelers EDGE collaborative,’” said Ibsen. Students in the program receive financial scholarships and something that, in the long run, pays even greater dividends—networking contacts.
“Once they begin immersing themselves in the professional development workshops and start to build relationships with Travelers employees, students quickly learn that the networking and professional coaching they are getting will be of significant use to them in the long term,” said Janet Morales, Augsburg’s director for the program.
So far, Augsburg has had 23 Travelers EDGE scholars participate in the program and some have gone on to accept full-time positions with Travelers.
Dustina Granlund ’14 is one of the Travelers EDGE alumni who works at Travelers. Granlund had two internships at the company, including one in Hartford, Connecticut. As an intern, she helped develop new and more efficient reporting systems that are still in use today.
Granlund said her mentor helped her understand how school applies to the real world by encouraging her to accept and take on challenges, to network, and to push herself beyond her comfort zone.
“My Travelers EDGE scholar work taught me business etiquette, interviewing techniques, and résumé writing,” she said. “It helped connect me with resources at Augsburg that I didn’t really know about.”
Travelers EDGE connected Granlund with staff in Augsburg’s Clair and Gladys Strommen Center for Meaningful Work who helped Granlund become more comfortable seeking regular advice on graduate school.
Morales sees that the value of the program goes far beyond job experience.
“Travelers EDGE is confidence building,” she said. “Our scholars do not typically have any corporate experience prior to becoming a part of Travelers EDGE, nor do they have family members with that experience, so starting their professional journey within insurance and financial services can be intimidating. However, Travelers EDGE gives the scholars opportunities to learn and build their skills within a safe space. The end result is that they can imagine themselves with a career in insurance and financial services, which they couldn’t before.”
[Top Image L to R]: Auggies Nou Thao ’18, Pang Xiong ’17, and Lyton Guallpa-Naula ’16 participated in the Travelers EDGE program.