TCYA Scholarship Recipient

Congratulations to Michelle Strafelda '14, the 2013-2014 Twin Cities Young Alumni Scholarship Recipient!

Michelle Strafelda

"Giving back is vital- because otherwise students that work hard and are deserving may not be able to afford to go to such great schools. Staff at Luther provide a loving and intellectually stimulating environment, and it wouldn't be fair that some students couldn't experience that simply because they don't have enough money."

Hometown: St. Paul, MN

Majors: Psychology, Spanish

Campus Activities: Vagina Monologues (3 years), Forgiveness Psychology Research Lab (3 years), Outreach (3 years), Voice Lessons (1 year), Luther Choir (1 year)

On-campus student work: Student Cafeteria Manager, Teacher's Assistant for Health Psychology

Off-campus student work: Koreana Sushi Restaurant (current); Fancy Pants, Ede's Angry Pickle Deli, Rubaiyat, Decorah Covenant nursery (all past)

Why did you choose Luther? I chose Luther for many reasons. First and foremost, I chose it because of the kindness and love that I experienced from the people I met here from day one. I liked the Psychology department and choirs, and as everyone knows, Decorah is gorgeous.

What do you love the most about Luther? What I love most about Luther is the people. I have made some great friends and even have gotten a chance to know many of my professors on a deeper level. It's nice to feel so much support in a college community.

Favorite food in the Caf: Eggplant Parmesan

Best Luther memory: That's really hard to say. I do remember during Freshmen Orientation, though, it was pouring rain after another get-to-know-you event, and everyone started running back to our freshmen dorms. On the way there, many people realized there was a very slippery stretch of mud just near Brandt. What started out as a few people sliding around turned into at least half of our class participating in a full-on mud slide. Strangers took hands and ran across together, falling and laughing. I remember thinking, this is college. 

Other great memories include Christmas at Luther 2010, spending time in Brunsdale studying and goofing around with friends, and acting in and directing the Vagina Monologues. 

Favorite instructor and why? My favorite instructor is probably Dr. Loren Toussaint. I have such respect for him because not only is he so intelligent, but he is so willing to help people understand the intricacies of the psychology field and also just wants to get to know people on a personal level. He's a researcher that really cares about people.

Favorite class and why? My favorite class at Luther was probably my Living Religions course. It was so interesting to approach the study of religion in a non-biased and scholarly way. The professor provided so much to think about and facilitated great class discussion. I loved learning about religions I'd never really knew about before, like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It's cool to be able to understand and respect people who have totally different backgrounds than you do. We all come from  a God of Love. 

What have you learned about yourself while at Luther? I have learned that I am able to compete academically to pursue my goals, and that I am a very hard worker. I acknowledged that everyone needs help from time to time, including myself and that no one should ashamed of asking for it- in fact they should feel efficacious for doing so. I learned to appreciate the Oneota River in all of it's serenity. I learned that I could push myself to be active here at Luther and went on to run a half marathon. I learned to speak Spanish. I affirmed who I am and continue to keep learning new things. I love who I am.

Why are scholarships important to you? Scholarships are precious to me because I honestly work more than almost any other college students that I know. It is stressful to have to be the only one putting myself through college when I really would like more time to enjoy campus activities, a social life, and more time to work on my studies instead of working. I've constantly had two or three jobs throughout my whole time at Luther, and any financial assistance has been much appreciated and a huge stress-reliever in my time here.

Why is giving back to Luther so important? Giving back is vital- because otherwise students that work hard and are deserving may not be able to afford to go to such great schools. Staff at Luther provide a loving and intellectually stimulating environment, and it wouldn't be fair that some students couldn't experience that simply because they don't have enough money. 

What are your dreams after graduation? I went into the field of psychology with the basic idea that I want to help others and show them love that they deserve- and to help them realize that they deserve it. I want to go on to be a therapist or counseling in order to make people feel that way. Honestly, my biggest dream is simply to be happy and to make other people happy.

Where do you see yourself in 30 years? I hope to be somewhere near my family, completely fluent in Spanish, and a seasoned counselor that has been able to help many people through their issues. I hope to be singing, painting, being active, raising children, married, and simply happy. 

Name a person who has impacted your life and why: My father has impacted me deeply. He has such a kind soul. He would help anyone with anything. He plays music (guitar and harmonica) for hours and gets lost in it. He has been a carpenter for about 35 years now, but he got a culinary arts degree just for fun. He has a teaching degree too. He loves to learn and to cook for others. He is talented at the art of stained glass. He finds solace in his faith for a loving God, and is constantly trying to learn how to better himself and to teach my brother, sister, and me how to better ourselves. He is the most caring man I've ever gotten to know.

If you could create a quote and share it with the world, what would it be? "God and Love are synonymous."

And finally, if you could say thank you in person to the alumni who support this scholarship... what would you say? I would say THANK YOU SO MUCH. Thanks for the help. I can't tell you how much assistance like yours has meant to me, because it simply doesn't have a price. I am receiving a priceless education and living experience. Thank you for helping me to learn about Psychology and Spanish. Thank you for helping me meet my best friends. Thank you for exposing me to new religions, to political science and philosophy. What you have done for me means so much more than the money out of your pocket. I couldn't do it without people like you.