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bethany hayenga
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Bethany Hayenga

Graduation year: 2016

Majors: Classics, philosophy, German

Activities: Collegia Classica/Eta Sigma Phi, Ekklesia (Greek Bible study), Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, Ascension Ringers, Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Phi Alpha (history), Phi Beta Delta Honor Society, Mortar Board, National Band Association

Internship: I had the fantastic opportunity to help Dr. Day proofread her book as she went through the editing process for publication. I also had (got?) to organize/regularize her 16-page bibliography. As an unabashed plug on her behalf (and a desperate wish for people to appreciate my work on the bibliography), if you enjoy Classics and/or cowboy movies, you should check out Cowboy Classics by Dr. Kirsten Day, available later this year!

Post-grad plans: Pursue an M.A. in comparative literature with a concentration in Classics at the University of New Mexico

Why Augustana?

To be honest, I stumbled into Augustana by accident. My disorganized high-school self spent far too much time trying to choose the ‘perfect’ college, and eventually, having expended every last bit of time and energy on stressing out that I might make the wrong decision, applied to Augustana as a way of settling—partially because the deadlines were hours away, and partially because my copy of the periodic table of elements had Augustana’s logo on it. Ironically, the school I ‘settled for’ four years ago turned out to be the perfect college for me.

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

Heck no! As a freshman, I had never even heard of the Classics—I thought I was going to major in chemistry. Through a crazy, circuitous, wonderful series of events, I ended up in the humanities. It’s been quite the odyssey, but I’m confident that I’ve found my Nietzsche here; there is so much to learn in Classics, and the discipline is so multi-faceted that I simply Kant get bored!

Who helped you?

I want to thank my friends for supporting me and putting up with my absurdity. I also want to thank all the professors at Augustana whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know. Not only do they encourage curiosity and exploration, but they are just genuinely good people. As for those I want to thank specifically, I have a whole catalog of (professor)ships: Dr. Lisa Seidlitz, who first introduced me to the wonders of language; Drs. Emil Kramer, Mischa Hooker and Kirsten Day, who make the ancients come to life every day (no gates of horn or ivory needed); and Dr. Heidi Storl, who taught me that the ‘useless’ disciplines (like philosophy) are the most useful in practical—not just abstract—situations. Y’all are the best!

A peak experience?

Just one? Germany was great. Greece will be great. Being able to participate in music ensembles as a non-major has been great. My other extracurriculars are great. My majors are great. I just love everything! ☺

What did you learn about yourself that has surprised you?

I learned that I am both more independently capable and more connected to others than I thought. I also discovered that I will never know anything as static, unquestionable fact—everything is an endless, and end-less, process.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice during the summer of 2014, when I traveled to Germany. I went with the philosophy/history learning community to Berlin and Leipzig, then later that summer I attended the Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.

What will you miss the most?

The people—friends, professors, kind secretaries and custodians and food-service workers…now I need to cry.

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Be brave. People aren’t as scary as they seem. So join the group you’re interested in, even if you don’t know anyone! Sit with some strangers! Talk to your professors (really, they’re the most interesting and knowledgeable people on campus)! Humans are such funny creatures, thinking that others have their lives more or less figured out than we do…what does that even mean? We’re all just trying our best, and that’s all we can do.

“Beth has squeezed every possible bit of learning out of her Augustana experience, including completing three majors in fields she did not have any experience with before coming to Augie, taking part in four (yes, four!) international programs in three countries, and playing several instruments in multiple musical ensembles. I’ve enjoyed witnessing her exploration and growth and look forward to seeing her future success in graduate school and beyond.”

— Dr. Lisa Seidlitz, associate professor, German