Joel Mjolsness '74

San Jose, Calif.

Joel Mjolsness has to be the only graduate of Luther College who sang for Weston Noble, wrestled for Paul Solberg, and acted for Bob Larson.  That’s not all: long before it was the norm, he spent the first half of his junior year independently studying the education system in Norway.  

Three years after graduating with majors in psychology and management, Joel continued his education at the University of Notre Dame where he earned an M.B.A. and entered the United States Army Reserves as a Second Lieutenant. He began working for IBM not far from his hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota, but before long his talents and entrepreneurial spirit led him to corporate headquarters and, ultimately, the Silicon Valley. There he has participated actively in one of the great commercial revolutions in American history, as well as the global economy that defines this era. 

It should come as no surprise that Joel was unwilling to settle for a single vocation. He joined the Army because he felt a calling to follow the path of what some have called the Greatest Generation. Somehow he managed to parallel his business accomplishments with a remarkable career as a citizen soldier, including stints as an Assistant Army Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, service in Bosnia, and most recently in Kuwait as chief of a unit supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Along the way he earned a second master’s degree at the Army War College, where he wrote a thesis advocating a national service program, and promotion to the rank of Colonel.

Joel even figured out a way to combine his two vocations by helping establish the Norwegian School for Entrepreneurship.

This program, which has enabled nearly 1,000 young Norwegian technologists to learn from successful practitioners all over world, has resulted in over 100 start-up companies and serves as a model for furthering international cooperation and good will.