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Abby Holtan
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Abigail Holtan

Graduation year: 2024

High school: Gull Lake High School

Hometown: Prior Lake, Minn.

Majors: Scandinavian studies; art history

Minor: History

Activities: Scandinavian Club, Chi Omega Gamma sorority, Swedish Language Table

Internship: Swenson Swedish Immigration Center

Post-grad plans: Working on it!

Why Augustana?

I had a college advisor who helped me with all of my applications who was an Augie grad. She really sold me on the school so I decided to apply and after a trip to visit, I fell in love with campus.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

No, not at all. I came into Augie undecided but leaning toward elementary education. After filling my language requirement in elementary Swedish, I fell in love with the language. I declared it my major, and it seriously impacted the rest of my college career. I studied abroad because of it and used it as a lens for all my other classes.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I first want to thank my parents and say I could have never ended up here without them. They have given me every opportunity and supported each and every one of my interests. I am eternally grateful for them! Along with this, I am grateful for my sister. She has always challenged me and kept me going when I needed it most.

My friends as well have been amazing and made it easy to remember why college is such a special time and place.

On campus, I would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Safstrom, one of my academic advisors. He really impacted my studies and has always been a positive influence and supported me. 

I would also like to thank Dr. Morse as she has seriously helped me through research and honing my interests. Claire Brakel Packer has been the most helpful with my post-grad plans, which I am eternally grateful for. 

Lastly I would like to thank Sasha Zainal who, while no longer at Augie, really helped Augustana to feel like the home that it is.

Peak experience?

Definitely studying abroad. I spent spring semester of my sophomore year in Uppsala, Sweden, and made so many incredible memories. Immersing myself in Swedish language and culture was fantastic for my studies, but I also made so many good friends and experienced so many cool places and things. It added a real-world element to my studies, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

What surprised you?

The experiences that I had at Augustana and the places it's taken me. I never would have seen myself ending up as I have when I came in as a freshman. I honestly am so grateful for everything that I've been able to do — from studying abroad, to my internship in the Swenson Center, to taking the classes that I never pictured myself taking.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

Since I studied abroad my sophomore year, I was unable to use the money toward that experience so I used the money to fund an unpaid internship at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Center on campus. Through this I experienced hands-on work with archives as well as setting up my own exhibit.

What will you miss the most?

Being so close to my friends and the community on campus. I've made such good friends, and it will be so sad to see us all go our separate ways and not be so geographically close. But I look forward to visiting them wherever they end up and hear about their future endeavors.

Advice for the Class of 2028?

If you are able to, study abroad! It is seriously such a rewarding experience that you will hopefully never forget. Also just try not to say no; there are so many experiences that I've had because I kept an open mind and wanted to make the most out of everything!

"Abby jumped into Scandinavian studies with both feet her first year, and has really made the most of every opportunity, both inside and outside the classroom. She spent a semester abroad at Uppsala University in Sweden, served as the president of the student Scandinavian Club, and been an enthusiastic contributor to our department's cultural events, such as Sankta Lucia. It is especially impressive to see how she has combined her Scandinavian studies and art history majors in her Senior Inquiry project. She is modeling the best of an Augustana liberal arts education."

– Dr. Mark Safstrom, associate professor, Scandinavian studies