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Alumni letters welcome new students

Alumni were invited to send a greeting to the incoming class in a short letter. Yes, a real printed letter to give them advice, tell them things they should know or simply send best wishes!

The letters will be placed in the students' rooms for them to find when they arrive on campus for orientation in August. Alumni can even identify a specific room that they lived in, and we will make sure it gets there!

If you haven't already, send your letter today! We have received letters from the following alumni to share with the newest class of Vikings.

Janet Norquist Gonzalez '74: Ghost in the 'French House'

The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements

I lived in the "French House," and all of my roommates and I are lifelong friends. We were supposed to speak French with each other, but ended up speaking Franglaise, and laughing a lot. We had one of those really old TV sets with the tubes you had to replace. We were actually too busy to watch it much. All of us sang in the Augustana Choir.

We believed strongly that there was a friendly ghost in the house named Appalonia Davis. If you get a chance to search in the library, you might find what we thought was a love letter written in the margins of one of the books.

Otherwise, here's my advice: Stay focused, but get involved in one or more of the many wonderful Augie group activities. Remember "The Four Agreements" and sing often! 

Terry Benters '77: Who cares if you can't dance?

I hope you have a wonderful freshman year. The school has a lot to offer; take advantage of it. I graduated from there over 40 years ago. I know I am ancient. But with age comes wisdom.

I still keep in touch with a number of friends that I came to know my freshman year in Andreen. Our corridor became friends and teammates early in the year. We would get together and sit in the hallway and solve everyone's problems.

So here is the advice I would give to you. Go to chapel. Singing in church can raise your mood, no matter the reason. Don't write off the old boyfriend. You can at least keep in touch with him. It's good to have true friends with you during this transition.

Keep active. The "freshman 15" will not creep up on you if you keep moving. Campus has always helped with their hills and stairs.

Come out of your shell and give new things a try. These people don't know that you are shy or that you don't know how to dance. Now is your chance to be all that you can be. Get out there and enjoy.

Nancy Steuben Hawfield '77: 'Man on floor!'

Wow, it's been 45 years since I started my freshman year at Augie--I think in this very room (Andreen 214). I still keep in touch with several friends I made that year.

It was all freshmen at this end of the hall, and we bonded as a group and called our floor Broadway. We had T-shirts, entered the rope pull at Homecoming, decorated our doors for Christmas with murals we painted. They were all Christmas related-puns like "Let there be peas on earth."

We also carried a forbidden Christmas tree to the lounge roof outside our rooms and decorated it. If it hadn't already been noticed, we left a trail of pine needles all down the hall and the stairs when we took it back out--our housekeeper kept our secret though! We also used to go up to the fourth floor roof to sun tan. I remember laying out in the early spring, all bundled up just to get sun on our faces!

To begin with, weekends were quiet and very boring. So boring that we spent one evening trying to think of things to do with blue nail polish--definitely not a thing then as it is today. Things picked up when Terry [Benters] (who has also sent a welcome note) talked a very tolerant guy with a car into taking all of us for pizza, beer and ice cream at Happy Joe's in Davenport.

Wow...we were off campus and not eating in the cafeteria, which used to be in Andreen (I think where the apartments are now). That was convenient in the mornings though--easy breakfast and never out in bad weather to get a meal :-) During finals week, we actually used to go down for breakfast in our pajamas.

Many things have changed in 45 years. Men were allowed on the floor only during certain hours and had to be announced with a loud yell of "Man on floor!" No one had a TV in their room, but we found out you could listen to NBC on the radio so we'd listen to the soap operas in the afternoon.

Making new friends wasn't always easy, but we were all in the same boat and that brought us together. I never thought at the time that I would still be friends with some of the people who lived on Broadway with me, but it has happened, and I treasure both the memories and the friends. Also, I am thankful for Terry as she was the ringleader for making things happen. I hope there is someone on your floor like her--maybe it's you?

You may be lonely at first, but it will get better. My advice is take advantage of everything that you can, get involved in campus and dorm activities. Don't go home on weekends, even if you can. Knock on a door and invite someone to eat with you or go for coffee or to go for a run. The person you ask is sure to appreciate it. Go out of your way to be a friend, and I'm sure you will make friends you still see 45 years from now.

I wish you a wonderful freshman year full of new ideas, experiences and friends. Gosh, Andreen seemed old when I was there, and it's even older now. Those rooms are full of memories--add to them and treasure them. 

Lori Getz Kyger '91: That first real boyfriend

Back in September 1987, I moved into a room on the second floor of the Jenny Lind wing of Westerlin Residence Hall as a nervous freshman student ready to begin the magical four-year journey that culminated with my graduation in 1991.

Although many of my friends moved off campus or into Augustana-owned apartments during their last one or two years, I actually lived on 2J for my entire four years, first in a room near the RA and the bathroom for two years with a different roommate each year and then in a single room at the far end of the hall for the final two years. I truly treasure my days at Augustana and remember them fondly still today.

Although many students switch their career plans multiple times before, during,and after college, I actually have followed the same path and desire since sixth grade. While at Augie, I majored in English and secondary education, and although I have taught in more than one school district, I will begin my 25th year of teaching English at Rock Falls Township High School in Rock Falls, Ill., this fall.

My professors prepared me well to face the challenges of teaching, but one of the most inspiring English teachers that I encountered was Dr. Paul Olsen, who recently retired from Augustana. Dr. Olsen's passion for teaching fueled my interest in literature and writing, and I see traces of his lessons in my teaching nearly every day, especially with my creative writing and Honors English I classes.

Besides the obvious lessons related to the subject matter, Dr. Olsen taught me lessons about fairness and diversity. I still remember the comparison paper that I rewrote multiple times to try to please Dr. Olsen in my quest for the "A" that I usually received, but despite multiple revisions, I simply could not satisfy him with this particular topic. When he eventually told me that this paper did not represent my true abilities as a writer and that he would not count the grade, I learned not to allow one setback to set me back and not to judge my students based on one paper or test.

As I sat in Dr. Olsen's literature classes, I realized the truth of his statement that most schools at the time did not teach literature by many non-white, non-male authors, and I now strive to include stories and poems that provide a more well-rounded balance of the human experience. Although this year's freshman class at Augustana may not have the privilege of sitting in a class taught by Dr. Olsen, I know that his legacy will live through his students and that his presence will still be felt on the campus.

In addition to my passion for English, I also have a passion for music. During my days at Augie, I could often be found not only in the library studying but also in the practice rooms of Bergendoff Hall. Here I encountered Dr. James Lambrecht, who arrived at Augie during my sophomore year. One of the most powerful musical experiences that I have had came during my senior year playing "The Lord of the Rings" under the direction of Dr. Lambrecht while on tour in southern California. Actually, that entire band tour remains one of my most treasured memories.

I will always remember how Dr. Lambrecht pushed me to improve in my trumpet playing, which also increased the musicality of my piano playing, and the idea of "tempo di Lambrecht" flashes in my mind every time that I am asked to play a tune faster than I have ever imagined possible.

Today, I accompany many students for high school solo and ensemble contest, play for school musicals and accompany the choir at church. Although I do not have as many opportunities to play the trumpet as I have to play the piano, I still play for church and in a community stage band.

During my four years at Augustana, I experienced many firsts. I lived away from home for the first time. I had a roommate for the first time. I went on tour for the first time. I had a real boyfriend for the first time, and he gave me my first marriage proposal. Although he and I never married, many of my best memories are connected to him and our group of friends.

I remember dining late each night after band practices and arguing over whether the evening meal was "dinner" or "supper." I remember debating whether to take the Slough path or the stairs to reach the upper campus. I remember the brisk walks from Westerlin to 8 a.m. classes in Old Main, and I remember counting how many slow-walking people I passed along the way.

I remember watching the construction for the new library and waiting to be able to use the library before I graduated. I remember trying to guess how many times the band would play the fight song during a football game as the team scored and scored, and I remember playing in the pep band when the football team lost its first game after a winning streak of over 60 games.

I remember ice cream socials and Bible studies with InterVarsity. I remember campus chapel services on Wednesday nights and the kind people who gave me rides to Sunday services down the block. I remember watching the squirrels playing. I remember walks to Whitey's. I remember...

Although Augustana has undergone many changes (shifts from quarters to trimesters to semesters, new buildings, new professors) since my days there, the standards of excellence and quality of education remain among the highest. I pray that this year's new class of freshmen enjoy the education and campus life at Augustana as much as I did. I will always pay tribute "to the grand ole school upon the hill, Augustana with the Gold and Blue."

Welcome to Augustana! Treasure each day and each memory!

Jennifer Woodruff '92: Days filled with music

Welcome to Augustana! My memories of my days there are happy ones filled with music, friends and adventures. Enjoy, learn, and grow. Here I am in your room (Jenny Lind 104) 30 years ago!

Jennifer Woodruff '92 in 1988
Jennifer Woodruff '92 in 1988

Marcy Sylvester Ceranek '97: 'Online' for the first time

Twenty-five years ago this fall, I arrived on the Augustana campus. I had visited the campus multiple times as both a prospective student and as a child of an alumni (my father was an Augie grad in 1969), but I was so nervous this time. I didn't really know anyone, but I knew college was a great adventure that I had heard about for all my life. My father always spoke fondly of his time at Augustana so I was nervous but excited.

I remember my first visit to the bookstore (I met someone who I still keep in touch with today) and how I felt walking into my room after my parents had left. My class was the first to get an email address when we started (yes, I know I am old), and I remember getting "online" to share information with people across the globe for the first time.

During my first few weeks on campus, I met so many people, some of them I am still friends with today. While I settled into the academic life very quickly, it took time to feel like a part of everything. But I stuck with it and now, I would absolutely not trade my years at Augustana for anything. While I started to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I really figured out who I was and who I wanted to be. I stepped out of the shadows of my family and stood on my own two feet.

This year, I suggest you take classes in many different areas to help you decide your major. As a freshman, I wanted to be a child psychologist but ended up majoring in business and accounting. When I didn't know what to major in, I just took classes in multiple areas to start crossing jobs off my list. Remember to keep your career in mind when you pick a major...but feel free to pick an area you find interesting or fun as a minor.

While the academics are important, don't forget to get involved in activities. The leadership skills I learned at Augie were more important than anything else I learned and provided the foundation of my career. I was the president of multiple organizations and I served on student government. I now serve as the vice president of academics and accreditation for a group of technical colleges, and I love it.

So as you move in today, take a deep breath and take a look around. These are memories you will never forget and the friends you make will be yours for life. You will face challenges in both academics and your social life, but Augie will provide you the foundation you need to be successful.

I suggest making friends with the upper classmen on your floor—they are a great resource as you face the new experiences this year will bring. Also, find your favorite spot on campus (mine were the windows in the library that looked over the quad) will help you feel comforted during these next few years.

Good luck with everything. My class donated the gazebo near the Slough so make sure to visit it!

Emily Jacobs '09: Best four years

Welcome to your new home away from home! While it may not feel like home quite yet, I promise that you will come to love your Augie friends, professors, teams, classmates and the Quad Cities.

Many people say that college is the best four years of your life; at Augie, this is true because the campus, the education and the people are special. This is a time where you will challenge your thinking, meet people with new perspectives, work harder than you thought you could, make some mistakes, give back to others, and feel part of a community that is lifelong strong.

As an alumna, I feel an instant bond with others who went to Augustana because of the open-mindedness and gratefulness that the Augie experience seems to instill in everyone.

You may be nervous, but just know that you are in the right place. Start each day with excitement for what this college has to offer and eagerness to embrace the opportunities of that day. I wish you the best in your first year! 

Jessica LaPorte '10: Go to Bingo!

Welcome to Augie! You are absolutely going to love it. I graduated back in 2010 as a CSD (communication sciences and disorders) major.

During my freshman year, I lived on the third floor in Andreen back when it was still an all-girls dorm—if you can believe that. And did you know Carlsson used to be an all-boys dorm?! Rumor has it there were once tunnels connecting the two buildings.  

Some of my best friends today (over 10 years later) are people I met on the third floor of Andreen. We then lived in Erickson, then Arbaugh and then on 30th Street next to the park. We tried out new sports together, rushed and then pledged sororities, and even found our future majors and career paths.

Enjoy every moment; four years goes by so quickly. And don't forget to have FUN. Best of luck! (and BINGO is actually super fun—if they still have it on Fridays, go!)

Sallie Konrardy '13: Be proud of where you are!

A lot of emotions are probably running through your head— new people, places and things to experience. I was in your shoes almost 10 years ago, and can still remember move-in day perfectly. This is such a special time in your life!

Time moves quickly, so be present and be open during your next four years. I met some of my very best friends by branching out, joining groups, being social.

My best advice is if you see someone who could use a friend, invite them to venture out together. Don't be afraid to try new things—that's what college is about.

Most importantly, if something doesn't work out exactly how you planned, don't become discouraged. Instead, lean on your professors, advisor and friends. Find comfort in your amazing network on campus that one day will translate to an amazing network of alumni off campus.

Augustana prepares you very well for your future. You will do great things. Be so proud of yourself for making it where you are today and remember to thank those who supported you. Continue to make choices you, and they, can be proud of—you already are!

Whatever your path may be, be sure to enjoy it. You're at Augustana!

Michelle Bautista '15: Passing on the love

Michelle Bautista '15

Welcome to Augie and to your home away from home for the next four years! You may or may not be aware of this yet, but Augustana is truly a special place.

I want to share my story as to why I ultimately chose Augie. In October of my senior year of high school, I came with a couple of my friends to visit campus. It just so happened to be Homecoming Weekend. As we were nearing the end of our walking tour by the Slough, I accidentally bumped into an older woman who was watching the cardboard regatta races. We got to chatting, and she told me that she had come back to Augie every year for Homecoming since she graduated almost 45 years ago. You could really tell that she had a connection and great memories with the school.

This was one of the reasons why I decided to attend Augie. I wanted to be a part of a great community that you still felt connected to years after you graduated. You'll start to notice that your friends who attend other schools count down the days until their breaks begin; however, as an Augie student, you will count down the days until you get to go back.

There are so many opportunities that Augie provides so be sure to take advantage of as many as you can. Go to all those club meetings, talk with professors, take those obscure classes, explore the Quad Cities! During my time as a student, I grew in ways I could never imagine, both academically and personally. I wish the same for you.

I hope you take this letter as my small way of passing on my love for Augustana just as that older woman passed it on to me.

Kelly Molloy '15: Just breathe

You've made it! I know the next 48 hours might seem overwhelming and scary but just breathe...take it all in, and really savor all the emotions you're about to feel.

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Kelly, I graduated in 2015 and still currently live in the Quad Cities. I wanted to write this letter to give a little preview and pep talk to a new Augie student, mostly because I wish I had one for when I started school.

I was pretty nervous to start in a brand new place with brand new people. I mean, how could you not be nervous? This is a huge change! I soon came to realize that while college was exciting, it was also terrifying. It's ok to be afraid of the unknown, sometimes that fear can drive you to something totally unexpected and wonderful. It's best to keep an open mind and give yourself some credit in these scary times. When there are times that you feel lost, unsure or afraid, just remember why you chose to come to Augie and why Augie chose you! You belong here!

At Augie you will connect with a lot of great students and faculty. Really utilize these people and incorporate them into your success. Your professors will become the best resources for you and your future...just make sure you show up on time! Augustana is one of those places where you cannot be late or miss classes because the classes are too small (but that's also a good thing; you will never be just a number or a face in the crowd). Have integrity when going to class...really show up and participate.

Another piece of advice I would strongly encourage is to GET INVOLVED. I might sound like every other person at Augustana when I say that but seriously. While I was at Augie, I studied abroad in Amsterdam, played collegiate lacrosse, worked at Public Safety, studied psychology and so much more! This is such a great time to get out of your comfort zone and to try something new. I'm in full-on adult mode now, and I so badly wish I could try something new like I did at Augie. There's such a great sense of freedom while you're in college...really savor that.

Here's a list of some things you can do while at Augie or in the QCA:

• Walk along the Slough in the fall (this is the best time of year because of all the colors).

• Walk to La Rancharita with some friends and get the chimichangas. Bring cash!

• Go to a River Bandits game; the field is right on the river and lawn seats are $5...can't beat that.

• Take Dr. Heine's geography land forms and land masses class, you will get to explore the Mississippi and the rest of Illinois during the awesome field trips you'll go on. This isn't the only class I would recommend. I think overall you should just try classes that sound interesting to you.

• Study abroad! Augustana offers $2,000 to every student for travel, internship or research. USE IT.

• Please for the love of God, if Augustana still has Bingo...GO. I once won $150 in a night because of Bingo. It's a blast.

• I'm not a religious person but on Wednesday nights, Campus Ministries would hold chapel either outside or at Ascension. It was a great way of relaxing after studying; they encouraged a lot of meditation and reflection. Say hi to Pastor Priggie, nicest guy ever.

• Support Augustana athletics: As a former athlete, it meant so much to see fans in the stands. Even though it's D3, it's still exciting to watch!

• Greek's always good to try it out! I rushed but never officially joined a sorority, but I ended up being very close with a group of girls in one of the sororities. It worked out :)

• Whitey's Ice Cream! A Quad-City favorite. My favorite flavor is Graham Central Station.

There are so many other great things I could say about Augustana and about the journey you're about to experience,'s your journey. Create an amazing one for yourself. Don't be afraid to try something new. Practice integrity and be genuine, and have fun!

Allison Groch '18: Finding a best friend on the first day

Hello to you, one of our newest Vikings, and welcome to Augustana College!

Augie is truly a wonderful and life-changing place. When I arrived on campus as a first-year, I was anxious about who I would be friends with, where I would be living, and all the new classes I would be taking.

On my very first day, a lot of those worries were lifted when I met one of my best friends. You will be placed into a peer mentor group so you can get to know new people. This peer mentor group is where I met one of my closest friends, Lauren. Through thick and thin, we were always each other's support system, and to this day, she is still one of my closest friends!

Some of my fondest memories were with Lauren in our dorm room sophomore year, where we lived on a floor with some of our closest friends. The shenanigans that went on in that dorm are definitely some of my funniest memories and where I made the best of friends. Like me, you will meet the best people that will end up being lifelong friends at Augustana!

Beyond meeting your best friends, Augustana allows you to grow into a better person, with an open mind and ready to be successful in your future career and life. Because of the support and wisdom of the Augie professors, I was prepared to continue working toward my dream of becoming a veterinarian. Because of everything I learned at Augie, I will be attending veterinary school at the University of Illinois.

Whether your aspirations lead you to graduate school, like myself, or a career in four years, I can say without a doubt you will be prepared in every aspect, including academically, socially and physically. I wish that you have the best four years of your life!

My advice is to not take anything for granted. Your time at Augustana College will fly by, so take advantage of the opportunities that Augie has for you. Join some clubs or a sorority or fraternity or volunteer or all of the above! Just make sure you do something you enjoy.

Good luck to you and congratulations on starting the life-changing journey that is life at Augustana College!

Sierra Scanlan '18: Discover the Quad Cities

I hope you will fall in love with Augustana as much as I did. Through the four years I spent here, I had highs, lows, smiles, laughs and tears, but all of it made me a better person than the one I was when I stepped onto campus.

Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone and get involved in new things. Doing so will help you discover skills you didn't even know you had and meet some of your very best friends.

Leave campus from time to time as the Quad Cities has many amazing things to offer you. The Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Cenntenial Bridge, Rozz-Tox, The Village Theater and Red Band Coffee are a few of my favorite spots. There is so much to discover here, and don't let the attraction of what we call the "Augie Bubble" keep you from exploring the area outside of campus.

Get to know your professors, let them in, spend time in their office talking to them about their life and what brought them here. I promise you, you won't regret it. The professors here got me through some of my hardest times, and many ended up becoming people I saw as friends, not just teachers.

When reflecting on my four years at Augustana, I know I wouldn't change a thing. There were many things that didn't go the way I anticipated them or wish they would've panned out differently, but I know I am a stronger person for the way things turned out for me.

Augustana gave me my best friends and lessons and memories that I will carry with me long after my graduation. I hope you will have the same kind of experience. Immerse yourself and don't look back.

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