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Erika Dahlstrand
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Erika Dahlstrand

Graduation year: 2024

High school: Willowbrook High School

Hometown: Villa Park, Ill.

Major: French education

Activities: French Table

Post-grad plans: Teaching French

Why Augustana?

I first visited Augustana because my parents were students here. After the first few minutes of my tour, I knew I could see myself coming here and making it my own. I was drawn to the beauty of campus and the small, home-like feel that the campus community had. 

Everyone I spoke with during my tour and via Zoom before committing to Augie made me feel like they cared about me and my education. I knew that this school would help me grow, learn and would shape me in a positive way.

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

I can't say for sure. Entering college during COVID, I had had a hard time imagining myself in a future without masks and less than 6 feet apart, let alone as a senior in college. I've become who I am because of my experiences at Augustana, and have seen immeasurable personal growth thanks to those around me.

As a freshman, I was torn between education and international business, knowing I wanted to use French in my career. Thanks to helpful faculty, I found my place as an educator, and I'm glad.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Trying to list everyone would be an impossible task. My family has supported me in ways that are hard to comprehend, supporting my passions to continue with French.

Faculty in the French department, like Dr. Kiki Kosnick and Dr. Taddy Kalas, have pushed me and my language skills, encouraging me to continuously improve my French.

My advisors in the education department, particularly Dr. Ana Bordería-García, have shaped my teaching style and encouraged me to reflect on myself and my practices.

That being said, I wouldn't have gotten to where I am without my friends and peers. My good friend Maggie has pushed me out of my comfort zone more times than I can count. My fellow education friends Andrew, Victoria and Anna have reassured me throughout student teaching. All my French major friends and our collaboration on assignments. My wonderful roommates Victoria, Hannah and Allie who make our house a home. And my universally supportive boyfriend Luke.

I would be lost without them all.

Peak experience?

There have been so many amazing experiences: Sloughfests with friends, drives into Iowa, after-class Atomic runs and so many more little moments that have made a huge difference.

My ultimate experience was studying abroad in Dijon, France, for six weeks over the summer. I got to be immersed in the language with my friends alongside me. We explored the town of Dijon, tried new foods, drank amazing coffee, made friends with French learners from all over the world, and pushed our language barriers.

What surprised you?

I was shocked at how outgoing I suddenly became. I left high school shy, introverted and generally keeping to my small group of friends. Being at Augie made me do a 180 — reaching out to people, pushing my own boundaries and speaking out for myself and others. High-school me couldn't comprehend who I am today.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to support my study abroad trip to Dijon, France. Travel isn't cheap, but the experience is beyond worth it. Having Augie Choice definitely helped make this dream a reality.

What will you miss the most?

I'm going to miss all the little moments with the people around me. Big events and trips are great, but nothing is as special as the mundane moments of having a quick chat in the Brew, walking to class together, pushing through assignments together, and sharing the experience of existing in the same time and place as the people you love.

Advice for the Class of 2028?

Take advantage of all the resources you have at your disposal. Make use of the spaces on campus designed for your study habits. Get help at the Reading/Writing Center. Talk with Counseling Services. USE ALL OF YOUR VIKING BUCKS!

"Erika has been a stellar addition to the French program from the day she arrived. It has been a joy to watch her continue to develop and refine her considerable linguistic and literary skills over these four years. I will very much miss her thoughtful and engaged presence in the classroom. She has also done spectacular work as a facilitator for our weekly French Table. Her future students are fortunate indeed!"

– Dr. Taddy Kalas, professor, French