Luther College's Asha Aden of Rochester, Minnesota received the college's Elizabeth A. and Paul G. Jenson Medal for the class of 2020. The announcement was made during the Virtual Commencement ceremony on May 24.
Luther's Elizabeth A. and Paul G. Jenson Medal is presented each year to an outstanding senior, selected by the graduating class, who best demonstrates the ideals of the college through service to students and the college community. Established through an endowment gift from Luther alumni, Paul '48 and Elizabeth (Dybdal) Jenson '49, of Vassalboro, Maine, the Jenson Medal supports Luther College's mission of service.
"As a Luther student, it was important for me to serve my fellow students and college community because we live in such a divided world," said Aden. "If we want to unite the global community, we need to first become a global community. This means we look out for each other, we support each other and we validate each other's lived (different) realities."
Through involvement in groups including the Black Student Union, Interfaith in Action and Student Senate, Aden actively worked to create a "beloved" community.
"Martin Luther King talked about a "beloved" community. I wanted Luther's community to be a beloved community. This can only happen if we are united against hate and work toward equity, justice and liberation for all people. Working towards this was a difficult and rewarding experience for me. It was difficult to have these kinds of conversations, but it was rewarding experiencing the positive changes in policies and responses among the Luther community," said Aden.
When reflecting on her time at Luther, Aden mentioned she changed her major, made new friends from across the world and fell in love with the chocolate chip cookie from Marty's.
"I learned about 'what makes us human' from Paideia, I traveled to Hawaii to study for J-term and I made lifelong connections with the staff, faculty and the administration," Aden continued. "But the best part of college? It is undoubtedly the Luther community. This community uplifts you, encourages you and is always there for you. This group of people is so extraordinary. The Luther community has taught me how to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously."
Aden plans to seek employment in a field where she can make a difference, preferably in Washington D.C. She also plans to attend graduate school for religious studies.
To watch Aden's address during Luther's 2020 Virtual Commencement visit www.luther.edu/commencement.
Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.