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Fulbright Scholars spark
PLU’s global perspective
Katherine Hedland '88
Professor emeritus Rodney Swenson
talks with Tamara Grunhurd ’93
PLU’s Fulbright Scholars have studied
international relations in Germany, literature in Norway and environmental
studies in India. But many say the most important lessons weren’t
learned in the classroom—as unique cultures and challenges opened
the doors to self-discovery.
“My year over there was both the
best time of my life and the most difficult,” said Jeremy Mangan
’98, who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. “When
you’re on your own, you start to see things in a different way.”
In recognition of the 25h anniversary
of PLU’s involvement in the Fulbright program, many of the 51
PLU graduates who have been awarded the prestigious scholarship
returned for a reunion during Home-coming weekend. Professor emeritus
Rodney Swenson, the heart and soul of the PLU program, presented
the Heritage Lecture, and eight alums participated in a panel
discussion afterwards. Many came to pay tribute to Swenson, who
retired in the spring after teaching German since 1968. He continues
to work with Fulbright applicants.
“The thrust of the program is an
investment in peace, and one of the best ways to do that is to
have young people living and working in other cultures,” Swenson
said. “This has become my crusade.”
After his lecture about the importance
of language and broadening horizons, panelists took to the podium.
One after another, alums told tales of their years abroad and
thanked Swenson for encouraging them to pursue the Fulbright,
the U.S. government’s premier scholarship program. The Fulbright
was created after World War II, with the goal of fostering mutual
understanding among nations.
Ann Marie Mehlum ’75, PLU’s first
Fulbright winner, was back on campus for her first Homecoming.
Mehlum, CEO of Access Broadcasting, an Internet marketing company
in Eugene, Ore., said she didn’t realize when she won the Fulbright
in 1975 that it was so important.
“It was a fabulous year,” she said
after hearing the former students speak. “It was everything they
all talked about.”
Associate provost Bill Teska said
that all international programs have grown at PLU, and they offer
core curriculum emphasizing a global perspective. “It is critical
to be preparing our students to be global citizens,” he said.
“We are giving our students the tools they need to navigate through
an increasingly inter-connected world.”
to read Rodney Swenson's Heritage Lecture.