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Susan Sandholm-Petersen and Roger Petersen

West Des Moines, Iowa

The Petersens know a thing or two about graduations. “We’ve been to a lot of them,” says Roger, smiling. In fact, among Roger, Susan, and their three children, the family holds degrees from six institutions: the University of Iowa, Iowa State, Drake University, Grinnell College, MIT, and now Luther.

As parents, they celebrated the graduation of their daughter, Jan-Marie Petersen ’07. “We were profoundly moved by Luther’s commencement ceremony!” says Susan. “And we were so impressed that President Torgerson, the regents, and the faculty all formed a receiving line to greet the graduates—it was simply remarkable. We just knew they were all rejoicing right along with us.”

Buoyed by the celebration, the music, and the joy, they reflected on their relationship with the college as no longer parents of a current student, but proud parents of an exceptional alumna. As they considered the role Luther had played in their lives, they wanted to maintain their relationship with the campus and create opportunities for future Luther students.

“We’re pleased to be able to do our part with an annual gift,” says Roger. “But we’re especially pleased to provide more significantly for Luther through our estate. Jan-Marie had terrific role models among the faculty,” says Susan. “Her professors instilled in our daughter a sense of responsibility to go out into the world and continue to learn, to serve, and grow.”

Roger adds, “When we saw our child being challenged, mentored, and affirmed by people outside the family, it just filled us with such a sense of gratitude.”

“We’re not Luther alumni, and we could have easily stayed on the sidelines. But that was never an option for us,” says Susan. “We are so pleased to be a part of this tradition, and we’re looking forward to our new role in the life of the college—as donors.”