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Online community provides mentors and connects alums worldwide

By Erik Melver ’96

Throughout the world, PLU alumni are making a difference through service, mission and vocation. Now, no matter how far away, getting in touch with them is virtually instantaneous via PLU’s online community.

Eric Dooley ’83 is doing missionary work in Vietnam, and Bruce Berton ’83 is a member of the U.S. Foreign Service now assigned to Rome. Both serve as online mentors for fellow alums and regularly communicate with people from PLU. Mentors agree to share their personal, academic and career paths. They invite fellow alums to shadow them at work, provide internship opportunities, suggest classes that would be beneficial to take and give information on employment resources or on other contacts within their profession.

“My purpose in becoming a PLU mentor was to encourage people to consider joining the Foreign Service by taking the annual exam,” Berton said. “When I was a student at PLU, there weren’t many others who shared my interest in the Foreign Service.”

But interest has grown as international affairs have gained more attention.

“I think the Foreign Service is a great career,” Berton said. “I’d like to be an advocate where I can.”

(Above) Bruce Berton '83 (Top Left) Eric Dooley '83 (Left) Jeff Ebberts '90, '04

Dooley, whose daughter Emily is a first-year student, says he regularly checks online and likes being a mentor because there is always “the potential to pass on knowledge and experience so that everyone doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

“I look at the PLU Web site a couple of times a month to see what’s happening with PLU and alumni in general, and what’s going on at PLU now that my daughter is there,” Dooley said.

By registering at, you receive instant access to PLU’s online community, which includes:

    • A complete database of fellow alums;
    • A career services center that links profe- sionals with alumni, as well as students;
    • A personalized “yellow pages” directory of businesses owned and operated by alumni;
    • An e-mail address for easy correspon- dence to all registered members.

The alumni office is also integrating the existing LuteLink career and mentoring network into the online community. LuteLink involves more than 600 alumni who have volunteered to provide assistance to students or alumni looking for career information. Until now, LuteLink’s volunteers have been on file in the alumni office waiting for a call. Soon, they will join the hundreds of alumni online to act as mentors or advertise their businesses through the online version of LuteLink’s Career Mentoring Network.

Jeff Ebberts ’90, ’04 said he had a rough start trying to get a job after he graduated. He had several interviews, but he said he felt unprepared even though he had the skills to do the job. Ebberts now has a job as a Web applications developer and wants to share his story with anyone who might be starting a job search.

“Interviewers I found would do their best to get you to admit that you were not worthy of their interest,” Ebberts said. “To put it in a nutshell, I want to help other students who may run into the same situation. I want to be of help and encouragement for them to pursue their desires and not settle for something else because they feel that is all they can achieve. Hopefully my experiences can help other graduates, especially in the IT field but also in any field that they are getting started in.”

While many students take advantage of the wealth of information and contacts by visiting the alumni office, those who aren’t close to campus can now find those leads just a mouse click away – at any time of the day or night.

“We want people to know that this vital resource is available,” said Lauralee Hagen ’75, ’78, director of Alumni and Parent Relations. “By utilizing the computer and the Internet, you eliminate the middle man. Alumni have the option to contact each other directly without having to call or visit campus. That being said we always enjoy it when alumni stop by to say hello in person. What’s important is that they know that the Web site is there ready and convenient for them to use.”


Face-to-face help always available

For those who prefer in-person help, the alumni office is always eager to help. Amanda Kirksey ’04 was referred directly to Hagen, ’75, 78.

“I would definitely recommend the alumni office to others,” Kirksey said. “Simply talking to as many people as possible about your career goals is one of the best ways to actually progress. The alumni office has experience in dealing with students who are transitioning into the workforce, as well as former students who have done so.”


Connection events link alumni, prospective students and families

PLU Connection Events were held this winter in Billings, Missoula and Whitefish, Mont., Los Angeles, Denver and Anchorage, Alaska. Members of local Connection Councils helped host the get-togethers, along with PLU staff.

Guests included alumni, parents and friends of PLU, as well as prospective students and their families.

“The opportunity for prospective students to hear about the benefits of a PLU education from their local alumni as well as PLU parents is invaluable,” said Karl Stumo, dean of Admission and Financial Aid.

J.P Kemmick ’07 had a difficult time deciding between three very distinctive universities. Talking with alumni at a PLU Connection event in Billings and visiting campus made him choose PLU, he said.

Watch for and plan to attend a PLU Connection event in your area. The Alumni office hopes to host additional Connection events in many different areas in the future.

If you are interested in serving on a PLU Connection Council, contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.


PLU administrator seeks alumni to teach in China this summer

Does the idea of volunteering in China for three weeks of teaching and touring this summer interest you? The Global Language Villages program offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience China through interactions with Chinese students. The three-week program includes a four-day tour followed by 14 days of teaching at a school site selected to host the Global Language Village.

This experience is part of the Concordia Language Villages, a program sponsored by Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. The curriculum is intended to teach American culture to Chinese elementary and secondary students through intensive conversation classes. Students range from 8 to 18. American participants are teamed with national teachers and range in age from 24-75. Last summer, Rick Seeger, PLU’s senior advisor for student academic success, participated in the program and this year will lead one of the Global Villages in the Yunnan Province of China. He hopes his staff will include alumni, parents and friends of PLU. If you are interested in learning more, contact Rick Seeger at or contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.


Student Alumni Association hosts career mentoring event

The Student Alumni Association will sponsor its second annual Tables for Eight career brunch on Saturday, April 2. This event brings alumni back to campus to meet with seniors and other Lutes interested in discussing anything and everything related to the world of work. If you would be interested in participating in Tables for Eight or in serving as a career mentor, please contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations or the Student Alumni Association at 253-535-7432 or saa@pluedu.


Two new members join the Alumni and Parent Relations team

The new year brought two new faces to the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.

Erik Melver ’96 is assistant director for programs and services, and Lorraine Ralston is assistant director for events and outreach.

Melver will run the Alumni Online Community, the Alumni and Parent Relations Web site and programs targeting current students and recent graduates.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralston will plan events such as Homecoming, Family Weekend, and PLU’s efforts out on the road.

From left, the alumni team: Lorraine Ralston, Ann Johnson '81, Lauralee Hagen '75, '78, Erik Melver '96 and Student Alumni Association President Chelsea Blegen '06.


Join the community now!

To access the online community, go to, click the PLU Online Community link and go to “Click Here to Register Now.” This involves filling in your first and last name as well as your official graduation year. Be sure to fill in the entire year (1986 rather than 86). When this is complete, select “Find My Record.”

The following screen will show all the records matching the search criteria you have just entered. Select your name.

To verify that this is your record, you will be asked for your alumni ID number. This number is listed on the label of this magazine.

You will now choose your own user ID and password for continual access to the online community. Once you have agreed to terms and conditions, click the “Complete Registration” button. A confirmation e-mail will be sent if you have requested it.

You are now registered! As a member of the Online Community, you may update your current information, search the directory for your friends, or establish contacts by bookmarking this page.

Pencil Us In

Upcoming events

April 8
University Chorale Concert,
Phinney Ridge Lutheran, Seattle

April 9
University Chorale Concert,
Gloria Dei Lutheran, Vancouver, B.C.

April 10
University Chorale Concert,
St Paul’s Episcopal, Bellingham, Wash.

April 10
PLU Connection Event, Bellingham, Wash.

April 11
University Chorale Concert,
Trinity Lutheran, Freeland, Wash.

April 17
Eugene, Ore.

April 18
Portland, Ore.

April 19
Salem, Ore.

May 7
Spring Donor Banquet - PLU

For more information: or call 800-ALUM-PLU.


Lute applause

It is a great joy to serve as director of Alumni and Parent Relations. One of the best parts of the job is the opportunity to witness the great loyalty among our alumni, parents and friends. That commitment to the future of PLU is demonstrated in many ways, not the least of which is through the hours of volunteer service given by so many. In each issue of Scene I hope to lift up just a few of the many Lutes who give the gift of time. -Lauralee Hagen ‘75,‘78

Each Wednesday morning, a group of faithful Lutes report to the Nesvig Alumni Center to help in whatever way they are needed:

LaWanna Ahrendt ’52, Clarene Johnson ’54, Margie Kunshalk ’52, and Norma Borgford ’56 and Dick Weathermon ’50. Please consider joining them! n Several PLU alumni and friends helped host the Choir of the West and the rest of the PLU entourage during the choir’s winter tour to California. Becky Burad ’74, Michael Carson ’76 and Ron Steigerwald in San Francisco; Myrna Heppe ’56 and Alan and Ann Gaines (parents of PLU grad Jeff ’04) in Grass Valley and members of the Fresno Women’s Chorus n Thanks to the members of the Alaska Connection Councils for helping us to plan and host events in their area this spring: Dennis ‘64 and Linda ’65 Howard, Tom ’84 and Holly Buskirk and Ron and Marilyn Martinson (past parents).


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© Scene 2005  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2005

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