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In their own words

June 1, 2012

In their own words

Compiled and edited by Chris Albert

This spring, new PLU graduates closed a chapter in their lives and prepared to turn the next page. In the following, some Lutes shared their stories of why they came to PLU, what their experiences have been and what will be the next chapter in their lives.

Some will immediately enter the vocation of their choice, others continue their academic pursuits. They all have found a passion for a vocation and are ready to engage the world. The students who shared their stories here joined more than 850 students who graduated from PLU this academic year.

Anna Kreutz – Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry

Why PLU? PLU was just the perfect fit for me. In looking for schools for my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted somewhere with small class sizes, significant student-faculty interaction, and the opportunity to participate in research. One example that I particularly remember was a lunch I attended my senior year in high school. By chance I was sitting with Dr. Matt Smith and was able to speak with him about research, the biology department, and my own interests.

Anna Kreutz '12

Anna Kreutz ’12 is from Chehalis, Wash.

Another piece that made PLU stand out was the school’s Lutheran foundation, as well as global and environmental focus — all of which aligned with my own values. I’d heard wonderful things about PLU from a number of people back home, but stepping onto campus was what solidified my decision. The people here all seemed so happy! I loved the smiling faces and caring nature of everyone I interacted with.

My PLU experience: While my academic and career goals haven’t really changed since coming to PLU, I have grown into someone quite different from the girl I was four years ago — a considerably more confident young woman. Much of this I attribute to IHON. The first course in the program made me critically evaluate my core beliefs — something I hadn’t anticipated. Through IHON, the culture of PLU, and studying abroad in Scotland, I have developed and solidified my own values, as well as become a more global citizen — with a greater passion for issues of diversity and the world at large that will stay with me throughout my lifetime.

As anyone who knows me, though, Rieke is my home. In that building, I gained the knowledge and laboratory experience I came here for, that helped with my graduate acceptance and will aid me in my future career. Some of my fondest memories of PLU are from doing summer research in biology and environmental studies. This summary wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the chemistry department, though; even before deciding to double-major last August, they have felt like family.

What’s next? This coming fall I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at UC Davis, a school I chose because of my particular interest in autism spectrum disorders. With my research, I hope to increase our understanding of the underpinnings of this rapidly growing disorder and help develop improved therapies for affected individuals.

Harmony Young – Bachelor of Arts in music education, certified K-12 general music
Harmony Young '12

Harmony Young ’12 is from Bellevue, Wash.

Why PLU? I wanted to go to a small university with a passion for music and community. Not only was PLU highly recommended for my career goals, but I was totally hooked after visiting just once. The people were so kind, the campus so beautiful and all the staff and faculty were welcoming and excited for my future!

My PLU experience: At PLU I have been academically challenged and enriched in subjects from gender studies, environmental justice and jazz. I’ve learned to take risks and always found a community to fall back on.

Because so much time is devoted to looking at issues and topics from a perspective other than my own, I have been challenged to discover my own capacity for compassion.

What’s next? I’m hoping to get hired to teach music somewhere in the Northwest. Elementary, secondary, band, orchestra, choir – I just want to teach music!

Heidi Weston – Bachelor of Arts in business administration

Why PLU? I came to PLU because I wanted to stay in the Pacific Northwest, play tennis, attend an esteemed university with small class sizes, and be able to become a part of an involved community. PLU was extremely unique in the sense that it let me do all of these things. My mom graduated from PLU in 1976, so she was also an influence, and spoke highly of her time spent here.

My PLU experience: My experience at PLU has been nothing short of extraordinary. I absolutely fell in love with the community, and the collective goal of finding what it was that I wanted to do with my one wild and precious life. The concierge desk, and the school of business have both played a huge role in my college career.

Heidi Weston '12

Heidi Weston ’12 is from Fox Island, Wash.

To both, I have dedicated all of my hard work and effort over the last three years, and they have led and helped me grow into the person that I am today.

What’s next? After graduation my dream is to work in sports marketing, specifically in a larger professional franchise. I have nothing set up yet, but I have been encouraged by many to take a week or two off of work, and just spend some time relaxing and enjoying my last bit of time off. I look forward to staying in the Tacoma area, and seeking out smaller marketing opportunities with other associations such as Chambers Bay, in order to work up to my dream career.

Jordan Abel – Bachelor of Science in nursing
Jordan Abel '12

Jordan Abel ’12 is from Aberdeen, Wash.

Why PLU? I initially chose PLU because their school of nursing has an exceptional reputation for excellence. After visiting the campus I realized that PLU has many other attributes besides their exemplary nursing program. I felt that the size of the classrooms, student population, and campus would both facilitate my learning and ensure that I never felt like just another face in the crowd. In addition, the location of PLU appealed to me because it allowed me to receive a bachelor degree from a highly respected university without having to move too far away from my family.

My PLU experience: My PLU experience has been wonderful. Throughout my time at PLU I have gained vast amounts of knowledge and have had invaluable experiences. Such knowledge and experiences primarily regarded nursing and healthcare, however I have been fortunate enough to take other various classes at PLU as well. Although such classes were not in my field of interest, they none the less proved to be interesting, well-designed, and highly beneficial. In addition to receiving an exceptional education, I have also been able to enjoy the beautiful campus and the diverse student population that exists at PLU.

What’s next? After graduation I will begin my search for a registered nurse resident position in emergency nursing. After gaining several years of experience, I hope to be able to delve into the specialty of trauma nursing. I have also not entirely eliminated the option of obtaining a master’s degree in nursing so that one day I might become a nurse educator. However, prior to further exploring the option of graduate studies I would like to gain experience working in the field.

Kelsey Yonce – Bachelor of Arts in psychology, minor in sociology

Why PLU? To be completely honest, I chose PLU because of its proximity to my high school boyfriend who was attending UPS.

Like most high school relationships, that one didn’t last past graduation, so it’s definitely not a method I recommend for choosing a university!

Kelsey Yonce '12

Kelsy Yonce ’12 is from Kent, Wash

However, if I had been a more reasonable and mature 18-year-old, I might have chosen PLU for its beautiful campus, close-knit community, small class sizes, commitment to sustainability, emphasis on discovering a vocation, Sunday brunch (call me crazy, but I really liked the UC food!), or – best of all – it’s knowledgeable, caring, and down to earth professors.

My PLU experience: My PLU experience has been a roller coaster. I had some ridiculously hard classes, discovered that it’s almost impossible to avoid drama on a campus where everyone knows each other, lost a lot of sleep to write papers (or hang out with friends–let’s be honest), and made a few egregious mistakes. But there were also a lot of moments during my time here that were absolutely magical.

I’ll always remember the dinnertime conversations with my T-stad buddies, winning a trip to the roller derby with Dr. Graham at the Women’s Center auction, finding the best place on campus to stargaze on a clear night, presenting Dr. Taylor’s research at a poster conference in San Francisco, and watching the beautiful sunrises in Taiji during my J-term trip to Japan. PLU has taught me so much about life and myself. Despite all the ups and downs, I’m going to miss this place and I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything.

What’s next? Right now, I’m skipping my own graduation ceremony to go to Sasquatch! The day after I get back from the music festival, I’m moving to Massachusetts to start graduate school. I’m getting a master’s degree in clinical social work at Smith College in Northampton. Summer classes start on June 4th! September through April, I’ll be interning 30 hours a week at The Peck Full Service Community School in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where I get to work one-on-one with low income students in grades K-8. After I graduate from my master’s program in two years, I hope to find a job counseling at-risk teenagers and young adults. I feel like my education at PLU has definitely prepared me to go out and make the most of my one wild and precious life.

Kelvin Adams – Bachelor of Science in physics, minor in mathematics
Kelvin Adams '12

Kelvin Adams ’12 is from Portland, Ore.

Why PLU? I came to PLU because I wanted to be a Lute! The sense of community at PLU was head and shoulders above every other school I visited, and I wanted to be a part of this community. I was also drawn to the fact that at PLU you have access to professors who are truly invested in your education and who even show up to events around campus like concerts and games!

PLU offered the opportunity for me to simultaneously pursue my passion for engineering and my love of music, and I just could not turn down an opportunity like that.

My PLU experience: Adventure, growth, friends, Frisbees, The Big Bang Theory, music, and trebuchets. Over my four years I have grown as a student, musician, scientist, human being, and global citizen. I have learned the value and importance of community from my friends and mentors in the alumni office, the physics department, choir, and my classes.

I also am incredibly blessed and grateful for my four years in PLU choirs, which have taken me on a journey I could never have dreamed of, including a tour to Germany and France last summer with the Choir of the West. And, of course, no engineering education is complete without the construction of a trebuchet. All of these experiences are integral to who I am today and I would not trade them for the world.

What’s next? I will be attending Oregon State University in the fall to finish my dual-degree engineering program through their multiple engineering cooperative program. After my time at OSU I hope to either work in the field or move on to graduate studies in engineering. I also am really looking forward to my role as one of the class reps for 2012 along with Caitlyn Jackson, and hearing from fellow classmates about the exciting news in their lives after PLU!

Melanie Deane – Bachelor of Arts in education, endorsements in elementary and special education

Why PLU? Thinking back four years ago, I decided to come to PLU for the small campus, ability to relate to professors, and the opportunity to study abroad. I knew I was looking for a place where global education was relevant and with the opportunity to student teach in Namibia, as well as multiple avenues for student leadership, I knew this was the place for me.

My PLU experience: My experience at PLU has been a series of stories to make up a chapter book teaching me life lessons through classroom and student leadership experiences. The opportunity to dedicate time toward service has been a significant chapter, leading me into the worlds of Relay For Life and mentoring youth.

Through the School of Education, doors have been opened to not only observe in classrooms, but also teach.

Melanie Deane '12Melanie Deane ’12 is from Lake Oswego, Ore.

Teaching not only locally but also internationally in Namibia has expanded my views of education in many ways. Throughout my chapter book, the main characters have been my friends, my professors and supervisors, and most importantly, my family. I have never felt alone at PLU as professors and staff have welcomed me into their lives, my friends have supported my endeavors, and my family has been my rock through it all.

What’s next? After graduation I will be teaching special education in an elementary school in the Clover Park School District in Tacoma, Wash.

Riley Hoyer – Bachelor of Science in biology, minor in religion
Riley Hoyer '12

Riley Hoyer ’12 is from Libby, Mont.

Why PLU? A few important factors helped me choose that PLU was the place for me. First, I wanted a culture change and to far be away from home. Growing up in rural Montana where everybody knows everybody and they all happen to be your fifth cousin, I wanted to get away from the small town life and experience an urban area in a controlled environment. The PLU “bubble” was exactly what I was looking for. Secondly, I was looking to play soccer for a university in the Northwest Conference and I knew that the program was well-established and successful.

Lastly, but most importantly, I knew that PLU had an extremely strong biology program backed by a wonderful group of dedicated professors who really do care about their students success in courses. To sum this up, by attending PLU I avoided becoming just a student ID number in the computer, but rather I a known recognizable face on my daily visits to Rieke Science Center.

My PLU experience: My experience at PLU has been an absolute blast-full of a laundry list of wacky adventures with a great group of friends. From all the classic pranks of freshman year to stressing over completion of our final capstone papers together, my PLU experience would have been far less enjoyable without all the wonderful people that I have met. Secondly, my PLU experience has also been very demanding academically. If I had a single dollar for every hour I spent in Rieke Science Center over the past four years, this number would slightly exceed the net worth of Mr. Bill Gates. Even though I may be poking fun through slight exaggeration, I am very fortunate to have experienced the challenging nature of coursework at PLU and the efficient study skills that I have fine-tuned.

What’s next? Next year, I am very excited to be attending medical school in the middle of a desert. I was accepted into the M.D. program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. For the last four years of my life, the worry has been about “staying dry” in the Pacific Northwest. I believe I will no longer have anxiety from this thought. Nonetheless, U of A has a wonderful medical school that presents many exhilarating opportunities for me to follow my true passion of medicine. I am extremely excited to begin making a significant impact in the lives of others through my career.