Class of 2011 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Classmate,

Lots has happened on campus since you received your spring 2017 class agent letter, and we hope you’ve been able to experience some of these events in person. For starters, RAGBRAI—the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa--came through Decorah July 28, and the Luther community enthusiastically greeted the estimated 15,000 riders with a large welcome sign, free Gatorade, water, and Norse cookies!

A short five weeks later, and the fall semester began for the college’s 157th academic year, welcoming 542 new students to campus. Acknowledging that these are turbulent times for our nation, Luther President Paula Carlson, in her Fall 2017 State of the College speech, urged us to “rededicate ourselves and our community to our founders’ vision of a more just society and to our namesake Martin Luther’s commitment to be true to conscience, to live by our core values and beliefs.”

Two facility dedication events were held in September: Legacy Field, the new blue synthetic turf system by AstroTurf that was installed over the summer in Carlson Stadium, was blessed in a special ceremony Sept. 9, part of a full day of Luther athletic events, which included a football victory over St. Olaf. Thanks to much-appreciated donor support, including a lead gift by Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand, Luther now has one of the safest and most distinctive fields in NCAA Division III football. A week later, on Sept. 16, the college’s newly renovated 12 outdoor tennis courts were dedicated. The $1 million project—generously funded by an alumni couple who wishes to remain anonymous—has resulted in a more durable, stable, and consistent playing surface, making Luther’s outdoor tennis venues one of the best in the region. Many thanks to all of the donors who contributed to these projects.

Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, brought more than 2,000 alumni and friends to campus for 65 various events, including the annual alumni dinner Friday night, where a Distinguished Service Award was given to eight alumni. Play was suspended during the second quarter of Saturday’s football game due to lightning; after the game resumed, Norse player Cory Wirth ’18 went on to make a 25-yard field goal in overtime, leading his team to a 41-38 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University. Go Norse!

Another highlight of Homecoming Weekend was the very well-attended official viewing, at Noble Recital Hall, of To This Day: Remembering Nordic Choir’s First International Tour. Aiden Spencer ’18 and Jacqueline Wilke, Luther professor of history, created this documentary film of Nordic Choir’s first international tour in 1967as part of a three-year student/faculty collaborative project.

Student/faculty collaborative projects are just one of the many ways learning happens beyond the classroom at Luther. Internships and externships are also vital components of a Luther education, as are study-away experiences, which are key to the global perspective Luther promotes.  Do you know high school students who could benefit from the kind of education Luther provides? If so, please refer them through the Alumni Ambassador Program, which awards $4,000 in scholarships to students who enroll after your referral. There was a form just for this purpose tucked in the pages of the Fall 2017 Luther Alumni Magazine, or you can submit one online at

The college’s year-long exploration of the Reformation—and celebration of its 500th anniversary—culminated October 31, 2017, with a day-long symposium and evening concert. The symposium—The Reformation of Everything, 1517-2017, Examining the Reformation and its Continuing Impact—looked at the impact the Reformation has had on Christianity, the Church, education, broader society, and culture; how it has shaped Luther College; and what its influence might look like in the future. Among the many distinguished presenters was Marty Haugen ’73, renowned composer of liturgical music. Later, the Reformation Commemoration Concert, where The Reformation Cantata was premiered, raised up the work of alumni and students. The cantata was anchored by four choral movements, composed by Luther

alumni Daniel Kallman ’78, Sky Macklay ’10, Mark Petering ’95, and Daniel Raney ’92, and four instrumental interludes—composed by Luther students Pablo Gomez-Estévez ‘18, John Kuntz ’19, Caleb Linville ’19 and Hunter Prueger ’18—were interspersed throughout the work.

As you can see, it’s been a busy fall semester on campus, and we’ve only included some of the many happenings. Please keep Luther informed of what’s happening in your life, and we will write again in the spring.


Kelsey Leppert
[email protected]

Alex Ulfers
[email protected]

Kelsey Wauters
[email protected]


Jeni Arbuckle of Denver is senior account executive for Under Armour Connected Fitness.

Samriddh Burman and Rewant Lokesh work for Aarbur Jute Products in Calcutta, India. Sam is director of marketing for Aarbur and founder of the Burlap People, an environmentally conscious brand that creates travel bags, purses, and backpacks that honor the tradition of jute making. Rewant, also known as the Grey Wolf, takes care of the daily operations.

Dustin Balsley is a co-founder of Performance Livestock Analytics. The business helps livestock producers become more sustainable and profitable through a precision agricultural application. By combining cloud-based technology with on-farm information, the company’s software helps livestock producers efficiently measure and manage activities and inventories. The company has established itself in the Iowa State University Research Park as part of the Ag Startup Engine and ISU Startup Factory in Ames. The business was named one of the semi-finalist teams in the American Farm Bureau’s 2017 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, and was awarded the top prize of $25,000 in the 2016 Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Competition and the $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Natalie Baudler is an account supervisor for Carmichael Lynch Relate in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Alicia (Rangel) Brown is a patient safety specialist for the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City. 

Katie Deaver earned a Ph.D. in theological studies/feminist theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She is director of music ministry at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Glenview, Ill.

Alicia (Woodhouse) DeFrance is a support services specialist for University of Iowa Health Care.

James Feinstein is an analyst with M Powered Strategies in Washington, D.C. He also serves as a board member for the Fulbright Association, National Capital Area Chapter.

Courtney (Gill) Geradin teaches fifth grade at Heritage Christian School in North Liberty, Iowa.

Nicole (Wilson) Goetzl is senior financial analyst for Ardent Mills in Denver.

Kelsey (Balk) Grimm earned a PA degree from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and is a physician assistant at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

Jocelyn Hare is chief business development officer at Restoration Tools in Rockford, Ill. She was a 2016 “40 Leaders Under 40” in Rockford honoree, is an active board and committee member for many non-profit organizations in the Rockford region, and is the site leader for Rockford’s annual Stroll on State.

Kelly (Roth) Haug is an independent birth doula in St. Paul, Minn.

Kirsten Jacobson earned a master’s degree in international public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was awarded the Director’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. She is an associate-global public sector at Grant Thornton in Washington, D.C.

Erik Johnson teaches science for the River Valley School District in Spring Green, Wis.

Emily Kittleson is national fundraising manager for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul, Minn.

Ryan Kuhn is vice president of internet marketing for Scorpion in Valencia, Calif.

Kara (Schrapp) Linskey is category marketing lead - TVs at a Best Buy in Minneapolis.

Aidha Majdhy of Hulhumale, Maldives, is a sales specialist at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.

Kate McDonald teaches fifth-grade language arts at High Point Academy in Aurora, Colo.

Camille (Stenhaug) McVenes is senior accountant, corporate financial reporting, at Target Corporation in Minneapolis.

Anna Morris is director of student ministries for Sammamish (Wash.) Hills Lutheran Church.

William Morris is associate editor and reporter for Owatonna (Minn.) People’s Press.

Michael Olson is an MTSP for Power Home Remodeling in Denver.

Stephanie Picha is an accounting quality assurance specialist at Plus Relocation Services in Minneapolis.

Aliyah Richling of Stoddard, Wis., is a vocalist for the United States Air Force (USAF) Heartland of America Band.

Jennifer Roberts is youth director at Faith Lutheran Church in O’Fallon, Ill.

Hannah (Brandvold) and Joe Rosholt live in Austin, Minn. She is director of communications at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin, and owner/photographer of Hannah Rosholt Photography. He is an assistant county attorney for Olmsted County in Rochester.

Melissa (Larson) and Benjamin Schori ’10 live in Hibbing, Minn. Melissa is a stay-at-home parent; Benjamin is pastor at First Lutheran Church.

Mari (Henderson) Sharpe is marketing manager at 1517 Media in Minneapolis.

Liz Smith earned a master’s degree in urban studies from the San Francisco Art Institute and is a communications and events associate at College Possible in Milwaukee.

Karl Streufert is a member of the finance and accounting staff at St. Francis Center in Denver.

Kelsey (Anderson) Wilson is account manager with Dartlet in Iowa City, Iowa.



ANASTASIA DUBBELS and Stephen Alongi, Aug. 16, 2015


COURTNEY GILL and Geoffrey Gerardin, Aug. 5, 2016

ANGIE PIDDE and JACKSON FELDE '08, June 24, 2017

ALICIA RANGEL and Ryan Brown, Aug. 20, 2016

KELLY JO ROTH and Dustin Haug, June 22,2013

KARA SCHRAPP and Peter Linskey, Aug. 29, 2017

Hannah Vogt and ERIK JOHNSON, July 16, 2016

BRYNNE ZINNECKER and TIM EISELE '08, Jan. 30, 2016


JULIA (SCHIEFELBEIN) and RYAN EGAN '10 welcomed a son, Soren, in August 2016.

CARAH (CLAFLIN) '12 and MICHAEL HART welcomed a son, Charles Francis, in December 2016.

KELLY JO (ROTH) and Dustin Haug welcomed a daughter, Anawyn Cecil, in April 2013.

BETHANY (WICHMAN) and Andrew Lehman welcomed a son, William, in March 2017.

CAMILLE (STENHAUG) and Sean McVenes welcomed a daughter, Claire Shirley, in March 2017.

STEPHANIE (BORGEN) '09 and KEAGAN MEYER welcomed a son, Louis, in November 2015.

HANNAH (BRANDVOLD) and JOE ROSHOLT welcomed a daughter, Ruby Jean, in July 2016.

KELSEY (VAALER) and JAKE VAITH '10 welcomed a son, Anders, in November 2016.