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Hasselmo Award winners recognized for passions, work ethic

Alexis Lee
Alexis Lee

Two Augustana College juniors, Alexis Lee and Erik Bergren, have been awarded the Nils Hasselmo Award for Academic Pursuit.

Established by Dr. Nils Hasselmo, Class of 1957, the award is given annually to Augustana students pursuing a career in research or higher education teaching. The award was established in recognition of the ways in which Hasselmo’s Augustana education both informed and transformed his life and vocational calling. The $5,500 award is divided equally between this year’s two recipients.

Erik Bergren
Erik Bergren

Lee, an environmental studies and political science double major from Brighton, Co., said she was honored, thankful and humbled to receive this recognition.

“Without it, I would have struggled to prepare myself well, both in vocational exploration and financially,” she said. “I hope to utilize this award to help me think creatively outside the conventional box that is often placed on students in higher academia. I am a liberal arts student through and through, which is why I hope to find an interdisciplinary graduate school program that combines the skills I learn in both my environmental studies and political science majors. “

Lee is grateful to Hasselmo for endowing this award; Ann Hasselmo who continues her late husband's generosity; and the many professors who supported and encouraged her to apply for this award.

“It is because of my professors' good example of what it means to be a beneficent person in higher academia, that I have felt inspired to do the same,” she said.

Lee was nominated by the environmental studies faculty for consistently exceeding the department’s expectations “by breaking down complex problems into manageable parts through comprehensive responses on labs, reports and assignments.”

In her personal statement, Lee wrote that Augustana helped her discover her desire to pursue a career that prioritizes learning, being an advocate and preserving her connection to the natural world.

“My passions in education, social justice and the environment are all tied to the field of higher academia,” she wrote. “I know that I want to use my passions to help others also learn, advocate for themselves and create relationships with the natural world.”

Bergren is a double major in economics and public health from Geneseo, Ill. He said the award has inspired him to continue pursuing his academic path.

“"I am honored to receive this award from such a prominent figure in higher education,” he said. “Everyone who knew Dr. Hasselmo described him as smart, generous and kind. I hope to embody his qualities as a fellow Augustana student and as I pursue a career in higher education."

Nominator Dr. Chris Marmé, professor and Frank Strohkarck Chair of Business and Economics, said Bergren’s strong work ethic and his enthusiasm make him an ideal recipient for this award.

“The paper he wrote for intermediate economics was one of the most in-depth and most thoroughly researched papers ever submitted for that class,” Dr. Marmé said. “In his personal statement, Erik shares stories of three watershed moments in his vocational life while at Augustana: ‘the afternoon I fell in love with research, the time in class I fell in love with learning, and the day I found a passion for teaching.’” 

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