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louie bertenshaw
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Louie Bertenshaw

Graduation year: 2011

Majors: German and political science

Activities: International Relations Union (attends Model UN conferences in Chicago each year)

Post-grad plans: Attend New York University (NYU) to get a master’s in international education

Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?

When I was in high school, I actually had no intention of going to college. I hated school. But that changed (obviously) and to put it simply, I came to Augustana four years ago to get a degree…and, well…that’s just a few months away. I’d say mission accomplished!

Your peak experiences? 

My peak experiences probably happened while studying abroad (TWICE!). I’m one of the very fortunate and lucky few who have had the chance to skip the borders of campus and really step out of the comfort zone. It’s one of the most exciting, challenging, frustrating and rewarding experiences I think anyone can have! One of the most amazing realizations I had was that this small, tiny, little campus in the heart of the Midwest can offer such life-changing, personal experiences that are truly invaluable!

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?

I came to college a bit naive (don’t we all), and I was here to pick a major, get a degree and get a practical job. Yet, I’ve realized that college isn’t just a means to an end but is a personal journey and learning experience. It’s also a philanthropic experience. I don’t see my years at Augustana as an expense, but an investment in myself and my future. I never thought I would see college as more than just another four years of ‘school.’ But I now see it as time to figure out who you are, what your role is in life and how you can best serve your community and the world. I’m much less cynical and more adept to change than I was four years ago — which might be surprising because I’m sure my parents can attest that I am, in fact, quite stubborn!

Besides your family, who helped you get to where you are now? 

Well, Mom and Dad’s unwavering support was crucial, but also the support of individuals like my high school German teacher, Frau Jenny (Hahn) Keller. She did an amazing job of really praising everyone and helped me, and countless others, realize that we all have something special in us to contribute to the world…no matter how small!

Anything you’d like to add?

I never really figured out the whole ‘pick a major’ thing in college. I’ve always had an interest in language and majored in German. I also had an interest in ‘international…something’ and majored in political science. While I don’t regret my majors, I’ve since learned that I truly have a passion for understanding other cultures and learning through other cultures. As a result, I’ve decided to pursue graduate school options in international education and teaching — a decision that came halfway through my final year at Augustana! THE LEARNING NEVER STOPS!

Advice for this fall's incoming class?

Come to college with an open mind and PLEASE don’t take yourself too seriously. Take charge of your education. Study abroad, join clubs that interest you and just plain have the time of your life! I wish you all the best in the next four amazing and challenging years of your life! Viel Glück (German for “good luck”)

"Louie is one of those students who uses college to reach outside of himself to find something new and challenging and life-changing. When Louie studied in Germany in 2009 on the initial Wittenberg Term, which I directed, he used every opportunity to experience German culture and expand his personal horizons. Louie is the epitome of the type of student for whom I designed this program."

- Dr. Kim Vivian, Chair, Professor, Department of German