Gustavus Campus News
At promptly 6:58 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, Garrison Keillor’s familiar baritone filled the prairie cathedral that sits at the heart of the Gustavus Adolphus College campus.
For the next two hours, he regaled the sold-out Christ Chapel crowd of 1,100 with songs, stories, poems, and memories from his 48-year career with Minnesota Public Radio. The one-man performance was part of Keillor’s Gratitude Tour, which has him traveling across the North Star State to perform at five colleges and universities in conjunction with Minnesota Public Radio’s 50th anniversary celebration.
“I’m not done yet,” the iconic 74-year-old radio host assured the crowd. “But at my age, you see how the mistakes you’ve made have led you to things you’re grateful for now.”
Dressed in his signature light suit, red sneakers, and red tie, he paced back and forth across Christ Chapel’s sanctuary and up and down its center aisle as he spoke of his life with poignant, poetic, and humorous detail.
He told of his Minnesota childhood as a strict Fundamentalist and visits to his grandmother’s farm. He told of his dangerous lack of aptitude in high school shop class, which resulted in his placement in a speech course, where he credits a limerick that he wrote as the catalyst for his life as a writer. He told of being an English major in college, where he and his classmates wrote bad poetry and took themselves too seriously but came through on the other side relatively unscathed.
Then, he spoke of the early days at MPR and the magic of radio, of his commute through the pre-dawn hours to his early-morning shifts on the air. “You make a connection in the dark with people you’ll never know,” Keillor said.
The highlight of Keillor’s evening performance came during what he called “intermission” – when he strode up the center aisle of Christ Chapel, asked the audience to stand, and led them in a singalong of hymns and standards, including an emotional rendition of Silent Night.
As Keillor began to close the program with a winding story from Lake Wobegon – the audience not sure what was fact and what was fiction, and not caring much either way – he paused.
“You remember all these things,” he said. “They come back to you when you’re 74 and you feel lucky all over again.”
Then, he sang Goodnight, Irene. The Gustavus audience joined in, and as he left the microphone and shuffled away, the voices in the chapel – more than a thousand strong – carried him down the aisle and he was swallowed in a sea of applause.
Garrison Keillor’s Gratitude Tour grew out of the idea that when you reach a certain age, you realize how lucky you are and stop complaining. Complaint is a mainstay of comedy, the iconic radio host says, so he is now experimenting with a comedy of gratitude, talking about parents, teachers, lucky breaks, and dumb things that turned out smart after all.
Minnesota Public Radio® (MPR) is one of the nation’s premier public radio stations producing programming for radio, digital and live audiences and operates a 45-station radio network serving nearly all of Minnesota and parts of surrounding states. Founded in 1967 as a single classical music station in Collegeville, Minn., MPR is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Gustavus Adolphus College junior Tim Paczynski recently received the Minnesota Scholar award from the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA). Paczynski is the lone student from Minnesota chosen out of a pool of over 1,500 applications that were submitted to FEA.
The FEA scholarship is made possible by the generous support and fundraising efforts of international educators working in Minnesota. Almost 170 scholarships have been awarded by FEA since 2010, encouraging students to pursue their dreams of studying abroad.
Paczynski hopes to follow his dream by studying mathematics in Budapest, Hungary next year.
As a first-year student at Gustavus, Paczynski originally began taking philosophy classes, although he always found an interest in math. “While doing philosophy, I somehow came back to math. From there, I fell in love with it,” he says. Now a junior, he has paired his two loves by declaring a double major in the subjects.
Paczynski credits Gustavus faculty members for their influence on his decision to pursue the two distinct majors. “Professor Jacob Siehler basically convinced me that math is something I wanted to do with the rest of my life, without even trying,” he says. Philosophy professors Lisa Heldke and Josh Brown also encouraged Paczynski to challenge himself academically. “They really helped me refine who I am as a person,” he adds. Siehler even introduced him to the Budapest program by sharing his personal experiences in Hungary. From there, Paczynski began his research into Budapest, a city home to 1.7 million.
As Paczynski explored ways to study in Hungary, he learned about the FEA program through Bryan Messerly, the assistant director of study away programs within the Center for International and Cultural Education (CICE) on campus. “This is a big honor that recognizes not only Tim’s impressive academic record, but also his clear sense of purpose for his year abroad,” Messerly said. “Tim is an excellent example of how students can utilize a study abroad experience to enrich their education.”
One of the main reasons why Paczynski decided to apply for the study away program was the Hungarian culture and the challenge of the language, which is far different than anything he has studied before.
Through his research, he also discovered that mathematics programs in Hungary are different than those in the United States. There are a number of courses offered that piqued Paczynski’s interest, including abstract algebra, algebraic topology, and even a writing-intensive math class that teaches students how to structure their ideas into an understandable format. These will all prepare him for future plans, which include applying for graduate school to continue his career in mathematics.
At Gustavus, Paczynski has worked as a Collegiate Fellow residence hall adviser for the last two years. When he’s not working or spending time with friends, Paczynski can be found reading. His current literary mission: finishing all of Haruki Murakami’s novels.
And as he prepares for the next step, Paczynski knows that by pairing philosophy and math with the opportunity to study away, he’s taking advantage of all that a Gustavus liberal arts education has to offer.
“The opportunities here at Gustavus and the conversations with faculty have really helped me reach my goals,” he said.
To learn more about the Gustavus Center for International and Cultural Education, visit the department’s website.
The Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) was established as a nonprofit organization in 2010 to address the need for an independent study abroad scholarship provider. FEA expands access to study abroad by raising awareness of its benefits to the individual and value to the collective, and by granting scholarships of up to $10,000.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Gustavus Adolphus College students Elise Le Boulicaut ‘18, Ben Rorem ‘19, and Xiaoqi Yu ‘19 have been named Rossing Physics Scholars for 2017-2018 for their exemplary standing as students in physics.
Le Boulicaut will receive one of the three $10,000 scholarships awarded by the Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Foundation. Rorem and Yu will each receive one of the ten $5,000 honorable mention scholarships awarded by the foundation.
Funded by Dr. Thomas Rossing, the program awards annual scholarships to students enrolled at one of the 26 colleges and universities affiliated with the ELCA who are pursuing an education in physics. Applicants are nominated by their institution’s professors and selected by the foundation based on the student’s academic and research standing.
In the last seven years of the program, Gustavus physics students have accepted 11 of the available scholarships. This year, Le Boulicaut, Rorem, and Yu represent Gustavus as the only institution to receive three awards.
“All three of these students showcase strong academic skills and have excelled in our department. We are very proud of their work,” said physics professor Tom Huber. “As a department, we understand the importance of participating in outside research for a student’s career and we encourage all of our physics students to pursue these opportunities. Elise, Ben, and Xiaoqi thrived in their summer research positions, each using their skills and experiences to successfully produce strong academic work.”
Le Boulicaut, a junior from Angers, France, conducted research at the College of William and Mary over the summer, where she developed programs and tested models to predict risk of infection in premature infants. “I learned a lot through this experience. I was able to practice finding my own resources, documenting research, and presenting my findings,” said Le Boulicaut.
At Gustavus, Le Boulicaut attributes much of her success to the physics department, where she frequently meets with professors, visits tutors, and participates in academic and social events. She recommends the full immersion to future students. “By utilizing the amazing community, you will make the most out of your Gustavus physics education,” she said.
Outside of the classroom, Le Boulicaut sings in the Choir of Christ Chapel and takes private voice and piano lessons on campus. She also leads the Swing Dance Club, Newman Center, and French Club. She plans to pursue a doctorate in physics after graduating from Gustavus. In the future, she hopes to take her strong interest in high-energy particle physics and astronomy to conduct research, teach, and write textbooks in the discipline.
A sophomore from North Mankato, Rorem spent last summer conducting research as a member of the Gustavus First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) Program, which pairs students with faculty to conduct research in various focuses. Rorem worked side by side with physics professor Charles Niederriter to explore wind turbines and the power they produce. In his second year in the program, he has developed important relationships with the faculty. “I have been interested in science my whole life, and Professors Mellema and Niederriter have provided invaluable advice along my path in physics. It is an honor to represent them and receive this award,” Rorem said.
A chemistry minor, Rorem is involved on campus as a Gustie Greeter, a member of the Swim and Dive Team, and a member of the Choir of Christ Chapel. After graduation, he plans on pursuing a doctorate in either physics or engineering. Eventually, Rorem hopes to work in a career focused on wind and solar energy.
Yu, a sophomore from Wuhan, China, was also a participant in the FYRE program, where she studied Optical Coherence Tomography with physics professor Steve Mellema. After she sent a cold email, she was offered a research opportunity at the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, China during the 2016 fall semester. During her time back in China, Yu explored her home country, connected with professors and students of various backgrounds, and studied decomposed velocity fields with gravity models.
On campus, Yu is involved at Gustavus through the International Club, Martial Arts Club, and through work with the physics and mathematics departments. Eventually, she hopes to be able to return to Beijing to continue her research. Looking ahead, Yu’s passion lies in scientific research: “In Beijing, I worked with people from different countries but we all shared the common goal of learning more about the universe and promoting the exciting parts of science to the next generation. In the future, I hope to be like Dr. Rossing and not only be able to conduct scientific research, but also be able to encourage young people to pursue science.”
To learn more about physics at Gustavus, visit the department’s website.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
A Minnesotan, a graduate of the liberal arts, and a longtime teacher of the art of writing, Charles Baxter’s work delivers grace, intelligence, and a sly, Midwestern wit. Before he brings all of it to campus on Tuesday, April 25, we asked him a few questions.
Gustavus: What can the study of the liberal arts as an undergraduate do for a person? How did it shape you into the writer and thinker you are now?
CB: In brief: the liberal arts are traditionally those that teach us to think critically about any and all subjects that we might meet up with in life. They mean to acquaint us with the important ideas and works of art and other monuments of the spirit that have shaped human history, especially so that we do not fear ideas; we should feel free, knowing human history, to come up with some ideas and artworks of our own. In a practical country like ours, the liberal arts are often under siege by those who believe that education should mean vocational training. But what a liberal arts education should teach us is how to think, and to recognize lies when we hear them.
Gustavus: What should Minnesota’s undergraduates know about writing—discovering life and themselves through it?
CB: Writing is a craft like any other, and any craft takes time and patience and hard work to learn. To practice an art, you have to be a person who wants to go through an apprentice phase, and you have to be stubborn, and you have to be inner-directed, because most of your family and friends will not be particularly encouraging about your pursuit. Probably you need to discover a good part of life before you sit down to write about it. But writing can also teach you, or can encourage you, to practice empathy, which is what you do when you imagine someone who is not like you, and you create that person on the page, and you turn that imaginary construct into a living, breathing person.
Gustavus: How does reading literature make us more human, and how can we foster that in ourselves?
CB: Reading literature should lead us to an understanding of people who are not like us, and literature can also provide us with models, both positive and negative, for how people behave under dramatic circumstances. One answer to the question of “Why are you telling me story?” is “Because it’s about you, and about people whom you’ve never met, but might meet, someday.” One reason to read literature is to enlarge your sense of empathy, especially now; our culture seems to be undergoing a crisis of empathy, or a lack of it.
Gustavus: Minnesota. What makes us special as writers and readers of literature? And what can we gain from “reading” Minnesota?
CB: Minnesota can boast of some wonderful writers who were born here or lived here much of their lives. But they would have been hard-pressed to say what was “special” about them or about their readers. The literature of Minnesota has often been concerned with small towns and lives that have been circumscribed by somewhat narrow circumstances. There is a great sense of solitude and quiet-ism among our writers and readers, a feeling for the inner life. But as we all grow more urban and spend more time on social media, that may all change. We’ll see.
Charles Baxter will visit the Gustavus campus on Tuesday, April 25, from 7 to 8 p.m. for a fiction reading in the Melva Lind Interpretive Center of the Linnaeus Arboretum. He will be hosted by the Gustavus Department of English and Writing Center as the final guest of this year’s Bards in the Arb series. The event is free and open to the public.
Charles Baxter is the author of There’s Something I Want You to Do, a finalist for the Story Prize in 2016. He has published three novels, four books of stories, and two books of essays on fiction writing. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, and Harper’s, among other journals and magazines. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories seven times, eleven times in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and translated into many languages. A finalist for the National Book Award, Baxter has received the Award of Merit in the Short Story and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Rea Award in the Short Story. He now lives in Minneapolis and is currently the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota.
Gustavus Adolphus College’s Model United Nations club recently competed in the Arrowhead Model United Nations Conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and came away with two major delegate awards.
The Gustavus group, which consisted of 20 students from the campus Model United Nations club and the political science course Model UN/International Diplomacy, along with political science professor Mimi Gerstbauer, took part in the annual conference April 13-16.
Junior political science major and co-president of the Gustavus Model UN club Priscilla Otero won the Best Delegate Award on the Security Council while playing the role of China. Sophomore political science major Jason Alper was recognized as the Best Delegate Honorable Mention for the Economic and Finance committee, where he also represented China. In addition, Gustavus students Jessica Le and Marissa Bogdansky were named exceptional participants on the Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian committee.
“I’m very proud of our Gustavus students and their high level of preparation and participation in this year’s conference,” Gerstbauer said. “Success is measured in part by receiving awards, but for a lot of students success can also be standing up in front of a large group of people to debate international issues. It takes courage and preparation.”
As members of the Model United Nations, students do research on their assigned country and on current issues relevant to their committee in order to submit a resolution to be debated at the conference. They also prepare by researching their country’s stance on resolutions submitted by other student delegates. This year, Gustavus students represented the delegations of China, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Tunisia.
The Arrowhead Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC), now in its fourth decade, occurs each spring and brings together students from colleges and universities across the Upper Midwest. At the conference students from 14 colleges and universities represented UN member states on the Security Council and four other committees: Political and Security; Economic and Finance; Social, Cultural and Humanitarian; and Environmental.
Funding for the Gustavus contingent came through support from the Office of the Provost, the Diversity Leadership Council, Student Senate, the Departments of Political Science, Scandinavian Studies, and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and the Kendall Center for Engaged Learning.
“Model UN is an excellent example of high-impact, active learning,” Gerstbauer said. “Students learn and practice many skills in what feels like a ‘real world’ environment. Above all is the skill of diplomacy, which our world definitely needs. Thankfully, debate in the UN is not like social media.”
The Gustavus Adolphus College Model United Nations Club, which is open to all students of any major, has 60 registered members and regularly participates in a fall conference in Chicago, and occasionally other conferences nationwide.
Gustavus Adolphus College chemistry professor Dwight Stoll has been named as a recipient of an Agilent Technologies Thought Leader Award in support of his research applying two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC) to biopharmaceutical analysis.
Stoll will use the award to lead an international team of researchers from academia and industry as they seek to resolve challenges that biopharmaceutical scientists face when analyzing complex samples.
“I am honored to receive this award, and very excited about Agilent’s support of the vision of my laboratory and our collaborators, as we focus on the development of next-generation analytical tools based on 2D-LC for the biopharmaceutical research area,” said Stoll, who has been a faculty member at Gustavus since 2008.
“We are pleased to support Dr. Stoll’s research using Agilent’s transformative 2D-LC technology, said Dr. Stefan Schuette, vice president and general manager of the Liquid Phase Separations Division at Agilent Technologies. “The collaborative nature of the research of Dr. Stoll and his international colleagues, combining both academia and industry, will undoubtedly accelerate the progress of these types of solutions for the biopharma industry.”
The partnership is unique among small liberal arts colleges and Stoll looks forward to using the award to accelerate his research through the funding of undergraduates in his research, in addition to utilizing Agilent technology including a 2D-LC system, and state-of-the-art quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (QTOF-MS), both provided by Agilent Technologies.
“This award and the project it will support will bring incredible research opportunities to Gustavus undergraduates. They will gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art instrumentation, and have opportunities to develop problem-solving skills and knowledge that will be immediately applicable in their endeavors after Gustavus,” Stoll said. “The international team of collaborators we have assembled for this project reflects the way modern research is done, and students will have opportunities to interact with these experts in several areas of biopharmaceutical research.”
The Agilent Thought Leader Award promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences, diagnostics and applied chemical markets. Information about previous award recipients is available by visiting the Agilent Thought Leader Program web page.
Gustavus Adolphus College junior Katie Aney is the recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students pursuing careers in mathematics, sciences, and engineering.
Nearly 1,300 talented students are nominated annually by campus representatives from 2,000 colleges and universities across the country. Of the group, only 240 undergraduates are selected each year for the prestigious award. Recent Goldwater Scholars have gone on to receive other top-tier academic awards including 89 Rhodes Scholarships, 127 Marshall Awards, 145 Churchill Scholarships, 96 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.
“It’s an incredible award that I am honored to accept.” Aney said. “It is humbling to think of level of support I’ve received from Gustavus and the depth of gratitude I owe to the many mentors that have helped me throughout my academic journey.”
Aney, who holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average with majors in biochemistry and mathematics, will spend the summer conducting research at Harvard University through the Amgen Scholars Program. During her 10-week research program, the Rochester, Minn. native will work under Dr. Stephanie Dougan of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on a project centering on immunology and pancreatic cancer.
“Immunology is a big field in cancer research right now,” Aney said. “The project explores how we can find ways to use the body’s immune system to fight cancer instead of relying on some of the older, more traditional methods. Specifically, my role will be in generating fluorescent versions of pancreatic cancer cell lines to use for future experiments and imaging.”
Throughout the Amgen Scholars program, Aney will conduct hands-on, innovative research using novel methods to detect immune responses to tumors in mice. In addition, she will join Harvard’s other Amgen Scholars for intellectual pre-professional development, including a National Amgen Scholars Research Symposium at UCLA.
“Katie’s research internship at Harvard this summer will provide her with the opportunity to further immerse herself in high impact research in a way that will be incredibly valuable for her future career in biomedical research,” Gustavus biology professor Laura Burrack said. “As a researcher in my laboratory and during her summer internship at the Mayo Clinic last summer, she has taken intellectual ownership of her projects in a way that is truly remarkable.”
Outside of the classroom and lab, Aney is involved at Gustavus as a key contributor on the Gustavus women’s tennis team, the Student Athlete Advisory Council, and Tri-Beta honor society vice president. She’s also dedicated time to the Mayo Clinic Volunteer Program, presented at the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Conference, assisted in publishing a paper on concussion risks in youth hockey players, and completed a Mayo Clinic Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship focusing on neuroblastoma cancer.
“My academics are very important to me and at Gustavus, I’ve definitely received a world-class education.” Aney said. “But Gustavus has also really helped me become well-rounded. Through balancing academics, athletics, and social activities, I feel like I’ve truly experienced what it means to be a ‘Gustie.’ This balance is supported by the Gustavus faculty members, who make each student feel like they are a priority, foster our passions, and strive to help us achieve our dreams.”
“The first time I met Katie, I was struck by her genuine curiosity, intelligence and desire to learn. All of my interactions with her over the past two years have confirmed these initial impressions,” Burrack added. “In the classroom, Katie is inquisitive, analytical, and a leader in small group work.”
And with the Goldwater Scholarship and Amgen Scholar experience as an undergrad, the sky is the limit for the well-rounded Gustie.
“Graduate school is definitely the next step for me.” Aney said. “I’m very interested in clinical cancer research, backed by intrinsic motivation and life experiences, but I suppose the honest answer is that I’m still figuring things out. Two things that will never be a waste of time are loving and learning and my vocation will lie where these meet. I enjoy the challenge and creativity required from science courses, but I’m also trying to live with love and kindness and enjoy the rest of my time at Gustavus. I just want to be the best teammate, friend and person that I can possibly be.”
For more information about the Gustavus Fellowships Office and the support it gives to students, please visit the fellowship website.
Gustavus Adolphus College senior Laura Isdahl has been named a winner of the Fulbright English Teacher Assistant (ETA) grant. She will use the award to teach in Malaysia from January through November 2018.
Fulbright’s ETA program places recent college graduates and young professionals as English teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities overseas. ETA participants improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing the U.S. students’ own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
“It is such an honor to win the Fulbright. I am looking forward to investing myself in a community in Malaysia,” Isdahl said. “I’ve had the goal to teach English abroad for many years, but it’s always seemed far-off and unrealistic. Now that it’s a reality, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing this dream actualized.”
Isdahl, a native of Plymouth, Minn. and graduate of Wayzata High School, sought the Fulbright grant to continue her international studies, which have included experiences in South Africa and Italy during her time at Gustavus. An English major with a 3.93 cumulative grade point average, she will graduate summa cum laude this spring.
“I plan to share my passion for creative writing with my host community,” Isdahl wrote in her Fulbright application. “I want to create a group of students and community members who are interested in writing. We can practice storytelling, writing, creative expression, and practice English in a different setting and context to bring out passions within students.”
“Laura’s a wonderful student and writer, but she also has intangible skills as a leader and communicator that make her really stand out,“ Gustavus English professor Baker Lawley said. “The Fulbright committee clearly saw the same things. I’m very proud of her and excited for her to have this opportunity.”
An editor of Firethorne and Writing Center tutor, Isdahl has also been involved as a Gustie Greeter, Gustavus Ambassador, Building Bridges committee member, and member of the Guild of St. Lucia. After taking advantage of the Fulbright program, she hopes to work in publishing or in non-profit administration. Her interests also include marketing, editing, and fundraising.
“Malaysia’s ethnic and religious diversity offers a unique combination of people with multitudes of stories and traditions that I seek to understand,” Isdahl wrote in her application essay. “I want to gain an appreciation for these differences as well as the similarities I draw to the United States, and apply these to live conscientiously. Understanding humanity’s shared history offers a fresh perspective leading to more expansive ways of thinking.”
For more information about the Gustavus Fellowships Office and the support it gives to students, please visit the fellowship website.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide
Gustavus Adolphus College sophomore Keliyah Perkins was recently awarded a $16,500 scholarship by the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota after developing a new program that will benefit students in North Minneapolis.
In order to apply this last winter, the Minneapolis native and graduate of Robbinsdale Armstrong High School designed a service project to serve the needs of her hometown. Centered on the themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Perkins will serve as a peer educator for high school students in North Minneapolis. The curriculum will focus on counter narratives and analyze multiple sides of key events in American history. At the end of the project, she will ask students to create an art piece that highlights their journey through self-identity during the course of the summer. The project culminates in a public art showing and an open discussion to determine the next steps in bettering their community.
“I started by asking what my community needed. I knew the power of my learning and transformative experiences, so I wanted to share the best of those with students from my community,” Perkins said. “If we look at the historic events more closely and from all sides, we can give a voice to the voiceless and empower ourselves at the same time.”
Her project partners with Project Footsteps, a nonprofit organization focused on youth empowerment. Her plan also includes partnerships with teachers in the community who will serve as educators during the sessions and offer their own perspectives.
“There are so many conversations that need to be had. We can’t be afraid to talk about race and diversity,” said Perkins. “This program allows us to give the knowledge and tools to have these courageous conversations and I am very excited to encourage younger students to do so.”
The scholarship is divided into two $6,000 awards given her junior and senior year, one $4,000 summer stipend, and $500 to fund the supplies needed for the project.
Over the two-year scholarship, Phillips Scholars spend time planning, executing, and reflecting on their project. Next year, Perkins will research, develop curriculum, and connect with her partner organizations to prepare for the project’s implementation in the summer. After completing the project, she will spend her senior year analyzing her work and preparing a report to present to the scholarship founders.
“I’m looking forward to working with students in an area that I have so much passion,” Perkins said. “Once students realize what people before them in history have done, they can open their minds to so much more. Self-doubt wins too often. I almost didn’t apply for this scholarship out of doubt, but I am so happy I had the confidence to do so because I am excited to see what these events and conversations can do for our students.”
Perkins is the 14th Gustavus student since 1998 to be named a Phillips Scholar. Previous recipients include Melanie (Larson) Sinouthasy (1998), Sara Imholte (2001), Noah Johnson (2002), Linda Lee (2003), Zong Xiong (2004), Ma Lee Vang (2005), Nhung Le (2006), Ashley Gibbs (2007), Laura Jensen (2009), Irma Marquez Trapero (2010), Sandy Xiong (2012), Nicole Ektnitphong (2013), and Andra Gulenchyn (2015).
The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota recognizes and rewards Minnesota private college students who strive to make life better for people with unmet needs in Minnesota communities. The scholarship program supports potential leaders with outstanding academic credentials who intend to dedicate a portion of their lives to community service. Students from 16 eligible private colleges and universities are invited to apply for one of six $16,500 awards given annually.
Gustavus Adolphus College has been named the best college or university in Minnesota for 2016-2017 according Learn How To Become’s annual rankings. With a composite score of 99.73, the College ranked first among four year public and private nonprofit colleges and universities in the state.
“We’re proud to be recognized among the top liberal arts colleges in Minnesota and the nation,” Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Kirk Carlson said. “Paired with visits to campus to meet professors, students, and staff, rankings can play a valuable role in helping students choose the college that’s the right fit.”
The organization’s rankings considered traditional college measures such as student/teacher ratio, graduation rate, and financial aid statistics along with outcome-based findings including median annual alumni earnings, availability of advising, placement, and employment services, and student loan default rates.
In addition to ranking first overall among the 32 Minnesota colleges and universities included, Gustavus also fourth on the site’s list of Minnesota Colleges with Highest-Paid Alumni.
Learn How To Become is a website founded in 2013 whose mission is to help students understand what it takes to land their perfect career, from picking the right school all the way to climbing the company ladder.
In the summer of 2016, Adam Sienczak packed up his Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and drove 12 hours to Auburn Hills, Michigan, where he would discover his love for the automotive industry all over again. For three months Sienczak, a Gustavus Adolphus College senior, had the opportunity to work alongside high-level executives at Chrysler Automobiles, the company that produces Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram Trucks.
Sienczak grew up around Chrysler vehicles, helping his dad in the garage, working under the hood of a succession of cars throughout the years. As a teenager he began researching cars on his own, focusing on repairs and vehicle accessories. His interest only increased the closer he got to the age of 16, when he would receive his driver’s license. “I knew that’s what I enjoyed coming into the internship, and I wanted to do it even more,” Sienczak said.
First, he just needed to find a way to get there.
Impressing Chrysler with his knowledge about the company wasn’t going to be an issue, but Sienczak knew he had to stand out on paper amongst the many other applicants. To do this, he worked alongside both his adviser and Gustavus Career Development director Cynthia Favre to discuss possible career paths and ways to approach the company. “We also worked on his resume to include his personal life-long interest in Chrysler products and being an engaged consumer. This was a bit different than most circumstances,” Favre said.
He also made contact with Gustie alum Marley Clark ‘14, who works as an Area Sales Manager for Chrysler. Consistent communication was key, as Sienczak bounced between appointments in the Career Development office and phone conversations with Clark.
After taking advantage of Clark’s advice and connections, Sienczak was approved for the internship program. The next thing he knew, he was moving into a mile-long apartment complex with 600 other interns.
In a company where 90 percent of the interns were engineers, Sienczak was one of the rare students to focus on Brand Management. He was not going on typical intern coffee runs, either. Not only did Sienczak watch cars being built, he got to drive them and suggest which accessories should be included in future models. His consistent research helped guide him toward which items would increase sales.
During his time with Dodge, Sienczak was tasked with exploring the development of branded parts, which customers would buy directly from a dealership. Sienczak spent the summer reaching out to third parties and different suppliers. He brainstormed ideas with the President of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), and by the end of the internship had the opportunity to present his findings to the Head of Passenger Car Brands for Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat.
He’ll find out if the products he advocated for made the cut when the 2020 Dodge line is released.
Besides working on projects inside the office, he also got to play around outside. Daily visits to manufacturing plants and track became routine, and Sienczak had the chance to drive experimental cars and travel to the Viper assembly plant. “There is a three million-dollar car there, no other one has ever been made, and I got to sit in it,” Sienczak smiled. “Really, I just nerded out all summer.”
Skills he had obtained throughout his time at Gustavus helped Sienczak communicate effectively, both during the interview and while working in Michigan. “I was the only intern that came from a liberal arts college. I could tell that set me apart from everyone else,” he said.
His focus on networking and passion for the product made Sienczak stand out, Favre said. “Tell people what you are thinking about – even if your ideas are not completely formed. Those people can make referrals that could help get you get to your end goal,” she explained.
With just under two months left until graduation, Sienczak is weighing his options. While he hopes to someday end up back at Chrysler’s corporate headquarters, he’s thinking about working at a dealership first to gain more hands-on experience.
Whatever happens in the furture, Sienczak knows he’ll pair his love for cars with the networking and analytical skills he developed during his time on the Hill.
“My overall experience at Gustavus has helped guide me to become a more efficient communicator. The connections I’ve made here, the people I’ve met, they have all influenced me in many ways. I am more considerate and aware of what is going on around me, and try to include everyone in the conversation,” Sienczak shares. “That’s what made me stand out among all of the other interns.”