Carol had already created a strong relationship with the Luther community before she ever set foot on campus as a student, and her decision to attend Luther was an easy choice. “I have always felt that I grew up on the Luther campus,” she says. “It holds a very special place in my life.” She had participated in the Upward Bound program on campus. By the time she graduated from high school, Carol had spent five summers and many weekends at Luther living in the residence halls, studying in the classrooms and forging lasting relationships with the professors and students on staff. Of these experiences, Carol says, “I never felt anything other than acceptance and care.”
Carol’s relationships with her professors helped her gain new skills and hone her craft, especially in her senior seminar. “My professor took my writing seriously and told me that it shines most when I write about something I'm passionate about.” She says that she was also encouraged to "write what she knows" and to not worry if it took her a while to "know" something to write about.
In all of her classes, Carol sought to challenge her beliefs and ways of thinking, and this perspective has definitely helped her throughout her life. “I can't think of one year that has gone by since graduating from Luther,” she says, “that I haven't felt stretched and strengthened by challenging myself and grabbing at each learning opportunity that has come my way.”
Carol loved being on a small campus because it allowed her to get involved in many activities and organizations. “I tried to get involved with organizations and groups on campus that I wouldn't have access to in ordinary life after college,” she says. “College was a unique time when people my age from all over the world had an opportunity to come together to share their views and their stories. Hanging out with others from such vastly different backgrounds really made me examine my own views and beliefs.” Carol was involved in Asian Student Association, Student Activities Council, editing for the Pioneer yearbook, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Student Tutoring, and was a safety escort for other students on campus, as well as working both on and off-campus.
One of Carol’s most influential experiences on campus was editing the Pioneer for two years. She describes this as the first time she felt in charge of a significant responsibility. “I was encouraged to bring my own creativity to the project and work with the team with my own style,” she says. “I have gone on to run many many huge projects where I have had to work with teams and put a lot on the line to get things done. Working in the Pioneer office until all hours of the night was excellent training for the many sleepless nights I have spent bringing creative projects to life for others to enjoy and participate in.”
Carol’s path after Luther has led her to hold positions in fund development, program development and management. “I have always been fortunate to hold positions where I could use my skills and passions to design programs for fundraising efforts, youth development and training,” she says. “I love the challenge of creating.” Currently, Carol is in the process of building up her writing business, and she attributes much of her success to the skills she learned at Luther. “One of the most precious things Luther did for me was to teach me to think for myself and not be afraid to do things differently from everyone else.”
For more information about Carol Denekas and her work, visit her website.
What I learned at Luther is to be exact about my life, to make everything count. To live propelled by my passions, making them the center of everything that I do.
—Carol Denekas '91
Be flexible and try a lot of new things. Explore campus and discover yourself. This is a new beginning, make the most of it.
—Carol Denekas '91
The liberal arts learning environment taught me how to think, not what to think.
—Carol Denekas '91