Class of 2009 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Hola Norsey Amigos!

Here’s a mind-boggling question I’ve been pondering lately: When did we get old?  No, really.  In case you haven’t noticed – you are old.  At a mere 25 or 26 years of age, we have now lived through seven presidential election cycles.  We were just entering middle school when the first “Now That’s What I Call Music” compilation CD was released.  (Did you notice that there was no volume number at the end of the title?  Just a period.)  For those of you keeping track, America’s youth was blessed with the release of “Now!” Volume 43 in 2012.  “Nick at Nite,” which used to air shows such as “Green Acres” and “Hogan’s Heroes” from our parents’ childhood, now plays the shows of our yesteryear, including “The Nanny” (originally aired in 1993), “Friends” (originally aired in 1994), and “Full House” (originally aired in 1987).  That’s right – Kimmy Gibbler, Danny Tanner, and Uncle Jesse have all moved into the realm of “classic” television.

Even more shocking is how far we’ve come from our days at Luther College.  While it may feel like we were first-years only yesterday, it has now been more than seven years since we first landed on campus to start our academic careers in Decorah, Iowa.  In the timeline of our lives, we are now closer to our five-year reunion than we are to our graduation date.  There have been three subsequent graduating classes since we took the stage at commencement.    Even some of our younger siblings are nearing graduation from Luther College!  Our graduating class is nearing completion of graduate programs, obtaining professional licenses in our fields of study, buying houses, getting married, having children, and even moving halfway across the world to pursue dreams and aspirations that began even before our time at Luther.

So here we are – older, wiser, and more refined (well older and wiser, at least).  If you are like me, I would give almost anything to go back and do it all again.  I often think about how great it would be to have my biggest concerns be meeting a deadline for a Paideia paper, having to walk aaaaallllll the way from Farwell to Baker Village to visit friends, or whether I want to go to Marty’s or the Caf for dinner.  In the three-plus years since our graduation, my perspective on life has certainly changed – including my view of our alma mater.  While I always enjoyed my four glorious years in our Utopian northeastern corner of Iowa, I didn’t realize how much my time at Luther was shaping the rest of my life.  Luther prepared me for my career, taught me about the world outside of the Midwest and the role I play in it, introduced me to friends that I will cherish and travel alongside with for the rest of my life, and showed me the importance of giving others the same opportunities I have been given.  For the graduates that came before us, who received similar class agent letters to this one, and decided to support the Luther College Annual Fund so that I could benefit from all of the aforementioned experiences, I am truly grateful.  To express my gratitude to those who made it possible for me to attend a college that I hold very near and dear, I honor their gift by paying it forward, and supporting current and future students with my (albeit small) contributions to the Annual Fund as well.  If this letter rekindles that Luther love that I know we all share, I ask that you consider a small donation to the Luther College Annual Fund.   Remember back to your Phonathon days – it is about the amount of people making contributions, not the dollar amount they contribute. 

I hope this letter finds you all healthy, happy, and eagerly approaching each and every day with the gusto that Luther’s preparation provided you.  All my best to my Luther family far and near, and looking forward to seeing you all reunited for Homecoming 2014.

Soli Deo Gloria (and a big ol’ GO NORSE!)

Justin Madsen
2009 Class Agent
[email protected]                                    

Erin Torkelson
2009 Class Agent
[email protected]                                   

Kate Roe
2009 Class Agent
[email protected]

Don’t forget your Annual Fund giving!

Each year nearly 9,500 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $50,000.  Strong support from alumni helps Luther secure additional funds from foundations and corporations, and your gift each year helps us to reach our goal of 27% alumni giving to the Annual Fund.  Here’s how your class is doing so far this year:


Have you made your 2012 gift to Luther?  Only 50 more gifts are needed to reach 27% for your class.  Please visit to make a difference for Luther students.  Thank you!

Please note: Your Spring 2013 class agent letter will include a listing of your classmates who gave to Luther during 2012.  Be sure to make your gift before December 31 to be included.

*as of October 18, 2012

Class Notes
MEGAN ARNESON of Decorah is a loan assistant at Decorah Bank and Trust Co.

SARA (JONES) and JON BAKKEN live in Mobridge, S.D. Sara is the grades 6-12 band director for the Mobridge Public Schools. Jon is the K-12 music and choral director in the Selby School District.

KATE BARTON is a registered nurse in the cardiac surgical ICU at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

ELYSE BENDEL earned a master’s degree in clinical social work from the College of St. Catherine/University of St. Thomas. She is a primary care social worker at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center.

STEPHANIE BORGEN is a business analyst at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

JAMIE CHRISTOFFER earned a K-6 elementary teaching certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She works as a math achievement specialist in the South Washington Public Schools in Cottage Grove, Minn., and as substitute teacher in surrounding districts.

LAURA DELIKOWSKI earned a master’s degree in education, in professional counseling, with an emphasis on student affairs and college counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

ALYSON GANGSTEE is a marketing programs analyst for the Toro Company in Bloomington,

MAREN (PENNING) GUNDERSON works in human resources and accounting compliance for Stebgo Metals in South St. Paul, Minn.

JESSICA HAZELTON is catering sales manager at the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis.

LIZ HANSEN is associate director of annual giving for parent programs at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.

MEGAN (HELDERMAN) HUMPAL earned a doctorate in physical therapy from St. Ambrose University. She is a physical therapist in the outpatient physical therapy department at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.

KIRSTEN (EPPELSHEIMER) HOFFER is an assistant teacher at Teaching Temps, Inc., in Minneapolis. She is also a graduate student in education/teaching at Hamline University.

BLAKE HUMPAL is a “The Perfect Fit” in-home consultant for JELD-WEN in Chicago.

ASHLEY JOHNSON is branch manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Forest Lake, Minn.

LAURA KRUMM—a graduate student at the University of North Texas (UNT)—has received an Adler Fellowship with the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America. As a 2012 Adler Fellow, Laura will have intensive individual training and coaching and participate in professional seminars and performances with the company. The ten Adler fellows were from the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, which has a pool of more than 800 candidates worldwide. A mezzo-soprano, Laura is pursuing a master’s degree in vocal performance at UNT, where she won the 2011 UNT Concerto Competition. As a 2011 member of the Merola Opera Program, she was featured in scenes from I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Rigoletto. Laura has also performed in concerts and operas with La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, and OperaWorks in Los Angeles.

MEGAN (REUTLINGER) LYON earned a doctor of physical therapy degree from Des Moines University.

BAILEY MILLER is a web content coordinator and SEO specialist for TN Marketing in Wayzata, Minn.

ANNALISE (CONAWAY) ’07 and JOE NELSON live in North Liberty, Iowa. Joe is a physical therapist at Accelerated Rehab.

EMILY OLSON is a retail standards evaluator at Kwik Trip, Inc., in La Crosse, Wis.

SARAH OSBORN earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and is a doctoral student at the university. She was a summer intern at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, N.M.

NATHAN OSTLIE is a consultant at Solution Design Group in Minnetonka, Minn.

AARON PETERSON earned a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

CHRISTA (PERSON) REYNOLDS is a medical social worker at the Iowa Hospice in Ames, Iowa.

ERIC SCHULTZ earned a juris doctorate from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa.

KRISTIN SKAAR is the special events coordinator for the ALS Foundation in Minneapolis.

KAY SKELTON is an MDS and Care Coordinator at Arden Rehabilitation and Health Care in Sacramento, Calif.

JENNY SLETTEN earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling with an emphasis on children and adolescents from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

JULIAN STANKE teaches Spanish at Lincoln Center Elementary School in the South St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools; he also coordinates the Targeted Services program and is the IB/PLC leader for specialists at the school.

KRISTIN SWEDLUND is a development associate at the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation in St. Paul, Minn.

BETH TISTHAMMER is choral director in the Rushford-Peterson Schools in Rushford, Minn.

KAYLA (BOCK) TOUFAR is an account manager at Business Impact Group in Chanhassen, Minn.  .

JOY WAUGHTAL is the street outreach worker for St. Francis Center in Denver.

ANDREW WEBBER earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an electrical engineer at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

LAURA WILLIAMS is an English teacher at Park Center Senior High School in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

EMILY WROBEL is vocal music director in the Anamosa (Iowa) Community School District.

TARA (MEYER) ZUERCHER is a registered nurse/clinic float nurse for Gundersen Lutheran Clinic in Decorah.

STACI (AMDAHL) and Espen Amdahl welcomed a daughter, Harley, in September 2011.  Harley joins sister Ariel.

BRITTANY (BUCZEK) '10 and NATHAN TODD welcomed a son, Carter, in August 2011.      

RACHEL (SCHUTTE) and Rod Vsetecka welcomed a son, Derek, in March 2012.  Derek joins sister Danica.

TARA (MEYER) and Matt Zuercher welcomed a son, Brooks, in May 2012.  Brooks joins sister Braelyn.

SARA JONES and JON BAKKEN, July 9, 2011
JANET BRENTON and Seth Boyes, July 16, 2011
LIZ JOHNSON and KYLE BARLOW, Oct. 15, 2011
CAMRY MONSON and Nate Crist, March 19, 2011
MAREN PENNING and Ethan Gunderson, Jan. 28, 2012
BRIANNA KUNKEL and Joseph Iverson, Jan. 21, 2012
JOE NELSON and ANNALISE CONAWAY '07, July 23, 2011
DAN OLSON and STACY HORNING '07, Oct. 1, 2011
CARRIE HARRIS and Robin Schmitz, June 2, 2012
KAYLA BOCK and JOSH TOUFAR '08, June 25, 2011
KRISTIN SWEDLUND and Andy Twiton, Aug. 13, 2011
JILL SUNDBY and Casey Yordy, Feb. 29, 2012
TARA MEYER and Matt Zuercher, May 28, 2010

Justin Madsen