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Kari Plog '11

Penguins walking around in Antarctica
Antarctica 1024 532 Kari Plog '11


Professor of English Charles Bergman urges people to embrace the humanity of animals

The globe is Charles Bergman’s classroom and research lab, and he’s collected many colorful stories as souvenirs along the way. Bergman, professor of English at Pacific Lutheran University, has gone undercover to bust illegal wildlife smugglers. He’s released parrots into the wild. And, as many students who traveled with him know, he’s talked to penguins.

In this video, adapted for a past conference on resources and strategies in Lutheran higher education, Bergman discusses his firsthand experiences learning about the beloved birds in the arctic and other animals around the world. He describes the humanity of animals and urges viewers to embrace that humanity in order to protect the planet.

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

Antarctica photos

(Photos by Charles Bergman, PLU)
A scenic backdrop of a blue sky and calm lake in Norway
Norway 1024 532 Kari Plog '11


Staying connected to PLU's roots while studying the present

Tamara Williams, executive director of the Wang Center for Global Education, says Gateway programs are entry points to regions with a deep educational partnership with Pacific Lutheran University. They develop lifelong transformation and establish a cultural exchange between campuses in both places, she says.

The Gateways punctuate PLU’s educational mission that was established in 1890 by Norwegian pioneers — a commitment to the values of Lutheran higher education.

Two of the most important Gateways connect PLU to its heritage — programs in Telemark and Oslo, distinctively different locations in Norway.

Claudia Berguson, program director for the Telemark Gateway, says both programs look beyond Scandinavian heritage and focus on the “needed element” of studying contemporary Norway.

“Our courses (in Scandinavian-area studies) and study away both strive to move students from an interest in heritage to an interest in how Norway approaches disciplines like business, alpine ecology and literature from their perspective,” she said.

Students studying in Telemark have the opportunity to learn Norwegian and participate in field trips that underscore outdoor life and regional identity. Lutes in Oslo focus on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, topics Norway is deeply committed to, Williams said. The country is engaged in a dynamic discussion defining and redefining its international roles, and PLU students participate in dialogue on issues such as European integration and multiculturalism in schools.


Explore peace and conflict studies, as well as Norway’s global implementation of conflict resolution and aid for developing countries.


The University of Southeast Norway offers Scandinavian studies, international tourism and sustainable development, business, alpine ecology and kinesiology programs.

People gathered around a kitchen table
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TIES program offers study away experience in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood

Before five Pacific Lutheran University students could finishing unpacking boxes in the house on South Grant Avenue in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, they were already learning about the new community they call home.

Christina Easley ’19 says she’s seen beautiful artwork along the downtown corridor while riding the bus that takes her to and from PLU’s campus.

“I had never noticed before,” she said.

That’s exactly what the Tacoma Immersion Experience Semester (TIES) program is challenging students to do — look at the community just outside PLU’s boundaries in new ways.

“It breaks all the rules,” Joel Zylstra said of the program, which launched this semester. (In a good way, he added). Zylstra’s the director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service, which houses the new program.

The study away experience, the newest Gateway program through the Wang Center for Global Education, is the result of three years of intensive planning. It started with an idea in the early 2000s to provide living and learning re-entry for students who study away and gain a rich new perspective.

In 2003, Zylstra said students coming back from the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago struggled to acclimate back into campus culture.

“Everything felt trivial,” he said, adding that students wanted to pursue ways to apply the racial consciousness and diversity-minded skills they learned abroad here at home.

So, faculty members JoDee Keller, Elizabeth Brusco and Barbara Temple-Thurston started an immersive experience for students in the Salishan community, a diverse mixed-income neighborhood in Tacoma.

TIES is a continuation of the philosophy that launched the Salishan program — a service-learning, community-based study away experience in PLU’s backyard that focuses on diversity, sustainability and justice.

TIES offers PLU students the chance to live full-time in one of Tacoma’s most diverse neighborhoods for a semester. They take the bus, work internships with various community organizations, and learn about the humanities and how to apply them in practical ways.

Zylstra says the program is beneficial to students from all majors and backgrounds.

“We want to attract students with a commitment to (diversity, justice and sustainability) values,” he said. “If they don’t come with that, we hope they leave with it.”

This spring is the first time the class has been offered. All five students enrolled live in a four-bedroom house in Hilltop. “We all have different interests, but we’re all very like-minded,” Easley said of her classmates.

Eventually, the program will evolve to include about 12 students, Zylstra says. Once it’s fully fleshed out, students will take a class exclusively offered to the TIES group and two classes of their choice at off-campus locations, in addition to an internship or community-based research opportunity. (This year, students are participating in a slightly modified schedule to start.)


This program focuses on community partnerships and advocacy, place-based writing, Puget Sound industry and more.

Zylstra said the program offerings encourage students to stay connected to PLU, while keeping one foot off campus. “We want the pivot foot to be in the community,” he added.

TIES is Easley’s first study away experience. She said she appreciates all the opportunities PLU has to offer, but noted that staying at PLU all day every day was a challenge. “I was feeling a little squashed down,” she said. “I wanted to get off campus.”

The Hispanic studies and sociology double major from Seattle wants to go into immigration work. Just a few days into TIES, she says she’s already learned more about the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma and immigration issues facing the city than she would have learned otherwise.

“I’m already aware of so many organizations I didn’t know existed,” said Easley, who is working at the Tacoma Community House this semester.

The Center for Community Engagement and Service serves as a foundation for the TIES program. Many of the organizations and local connections are built upon the work done within CCES. It epitomizes the Wang Center’s goal with Gateways — maintaining a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between the university and a community or region.

Rachel Haxtema, TIES program coordinator, says students gain just as much from learning about Tacoma as they do from learning about any place abroad.

PLU TIES Program

(Photos by John Froschauer, PLU)

While developing the program, organizers talked a lot about falling in love with Tacoma, something she hopes for TIES students learning about the City of Destiny.

“If you take the time to immerse yourself in that same way you do abroad, you can have the same experience,” Haxtema said.

Zylstra agreed, stressing that an immersive experience teaches students a lot no matter how far they travel.

“If you can learn how to examine and engage any community, it’s a transferrable set of skills,” he said. “It’s learning how to study communities.”

Yannet Urgessa ’17 in the Diversity Center at PLU
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Expanding Roots at PLU

Three continents and five languages later, Yannet Urgessa ’16 found her unapologetic self at PLU

Yannet Urgessa ’16 feels comfortable here, and she’s got the hair to prove it. It’s big. It’s curly. And, she says, it’s unapologetically black.

“A lot of growth I’ve done is reflected in my hair,” she said.

Urgessa didn’t always wear her confidence so proudly on her head. After emigrating from Ethiopia, she grew up in Bergen, Norway, among a sea of silky, blond hair.

She said wearing her hair in an Afro “freaked my friends out.” So, from the time she was 13 years old, Urgessa straightened her hair daily.

The decision catered to her white friends, she says in hindsight. She sacrificed the health of her hair to make them feel comfortable, and the damage went deeper than her roots and split ends.

“I don’t care for my hair when it’s straight,” she said. “When it’s out and big, it’s me being myself.”

When Urgessa talks about the stages of her hair, it’s more than a statement about fashion or beauty. It’s a symbol of her constant identity struggle, an indicator of the growth she’s made as an international student at Pacific Lutheran University.

Her family relocated when she was 6 years old, fleeing a country rife with political instability. Her family never abandoned their ethnic Oromo roots, but actively immersed themselves in their new culture.

Now, she’s relocated again, extending her international education to a third continent as a sociology major at PLU.

The university’s commitment to global education is a value that’s familiar to Urgessa. She speaks five languages — Amhara and Oromo that are native to Ethiopia, English, Norwegian and German — and learned from an early age to act as a citizen of the world.

“My parents did a really good job of fostering a global community within our household,” she said.

Urgessa spends a lot of time thinking about her identity and how it fits within that global community. “After I came to PLU, that’s when I had the biggest struggle figuring out how to identify who I am,” she said.

Once she arrived, she interacted with students of color who were confident in their own skin.

“I had never experienced that before,” she said. Many of her new friends at PLU were social justice advocates who “embraced their blackness,” she said, and it inspired her to follow their lead.

So, among other changes, she stopped straightening her hair. Through her newfound support system, immersion in PLU’s Diversity Center and sociology classes, Urgessa became equally comfortable in her own skin in yet another new culture thousands of miles from home.

“I found that I could be unapologetically who I wanted to be,” she said.

Urgessa said her PLU experience has been pivotal in strengthening her values as a global citizen, but she said it isn’t easy for everyone to embrace cultural immersion. To help her fellow international students get the most out of their experience abroad, Urgessa became an international peer advisor (IPA).

IPAs usher new international students through their first week at the university, offering them advice, guidance and support as they navigate their new community.

Urgessa uses her role to proactively avoid common pitfalls, such as students forming cliques with peers from the same country. She intentionally came to PLU without friends in tow, and encourages the same mentality among the international students she advises.

“It’s just so comfortable to fall back on what you know,” she said.

For a year and a half, Urgessa lived in Hong International Hall, an immersive living and learning community that intermingles domestic and international students, as well as those who study various languages. It’s a cultural hub that challenges residents to become fluent in languages and conversant in international issues.

Despite living in a dedicated Norwegian wing, Urgessa intentionally distanced herself from other Norwegian students around campus. She wanted to improve her English and learn from students from different cultural backgrounds.

That effort has served her well, she says, and it will serve other international students well, too.

“It has strengthened my values and morals,” Urgessa said. “We’re not the same. We can’t be the same. That adds to the holistic experience of being a human being.”

Urgessa’s cultural immersion won’t end with graduation. She plans to obtain a work visa and attend graduate school. She hopes to work in law and participate in ongoing activism. “I want to create change somehow,” she said.

Eventually, she will return to Norway. But she isn’t ready just yet. No matter where her global citizenship takes her, Urgessa will continue to be herself — unapologetically.

“I’m brave enough to challenge certain things,” she said of living in the U.S., “and safe enough to challenge them.”

A beautiful orange sunset with soft waves crashing onto the beach in Neah Bay
Neah Bay 1024 532 Kari Plog '11

Neah Bay

Makah tribe continues longtime tradition of sharing its story with Lutes

The white vans pulled into the parking lot at Washburn’s General Store along Bayview Avenue — known to locals as Front Street — as they have every year for 21 of the past 23 years.

The faces of the Pacific Lutheran University students who filed into the store were new, but that didn’t matter.

“Are you guys PLU?” someone asked. “Where’s Dave?”

David Huelsbeck, professor of anthropology at PLU, says the greeting from the Makah tribe stays the same, even as the students enrolled in his January Term course change: “Welcome back to Neah Bay.”

Huelsbeck has brought a small group of students to the furthermost tip of the Olympic Peninsula each year to learn about a native tribe he’s researched for decades. It’s designed as an introduction to anthropology, but it offers so much more to those who enroll.

Neah Bay is an immersive study away experience just four hours from PLU’s campus. It offers a glimpse into a community that works hard to preserve its culture and sovereignty, teaching tribal members and outsiders alike about the rich history and entrenched values of the Makah people.

“It is like the students who are going this year have a 20-year relationship,” Huelsbeck said. “You can’t develop that kind of trust overnight.”

Still, even though he’s considered an adopted member of the community, Huelsbeck is careful not to take the lead.

“It’s an issue of authority,” he said. “I’m one kind of authority on Makah culture, but I’m not Makah.”

So, staff from the Makah Cultural and Research Center (MCRC) heavily influence the direction of the study away experience. Janine Ledford, executive director of the MCRC, and others create and coordinate the 12-day schedule of activities and lectures.

Staff members even offer advice on in-class readings before the students arrive in Neah Bay, Huelsbeck noted. “Collaborating is the best way to have a good outcome,” he said.

The fruits of that collaboration trickle down to the students.

“I felt welcomed and friendly with people immediately,” said Ian Rice ’20, a political science and global studies double major who studied there last month. “You don’t have to ask a question of somebody to get an answer.”

Natalia Giovengo ’20, an anthropology major, said she was surprised by the intimacy of the Makah’s relationship with PLU. “He waves at passing cars,” Giovengo said of Huelsbeck. “They see the white vans and they know it’s PLU.”

All the students say that warm welcome empowers them to dive deeper and ask questions they wouldn’t otherwise. It gives them confidence in a culture unfamiliar to them.

“That’s why it’s so immersive,” said Rachel Longnecker ’19. “It’s his relationship with people.”

‘Living connection’

The MCRC grew out of the discovery of the Ozette archaeological site, which was originally occupied by the Makah people. A portion of the village was leveled and encased by a mudslide around 1750. The 11-year excavation of the site, which started in 1970, produced more than 55,000 artifacts, many of which are on display at the museum.

“It’s a site of national significance,” Ledford said of Ozette.

Greig Arnold, vice chair of the tribal council and founding director of the MCRC, said the museum started with a box of keys and a commitment to protecting the flawless discoveries.

After much deliberation between a world-renowned exhibitor and a committee of Makah people, the MCRC was built at the entrance to Neah Bay — a gateway to the town.

“The museum is based on the storyline of the seasonal round,” Arnold said. In other words, each gallery is filled with artifacts representing spring, summer, fall and winter.

Building the structure and the narrative was the easy part, Arnold said. Writing the copy to describe all the artifacts was most challenging. The years-long process resulted from creative tension between academics and the Makah people, who wanted to share their history in their own words.

“This is our people’s museum,” Arnold said. “Out of Ozette came all this evidence that verified what our elders were telling us.”

Huelsbeck joined the excavation effort about six years after it started, serving as a site director during his graduate studies at Washington State University.

“Dave was an important part of the excavation,” Ledford said.

But, she added, he took that research a step further. Beyond supporting the teams working to unearth history, Huelsbeck was immersing himself in contemporary Makah culture. He learned about the community and built lasting relationships that created a “living connection” to the artifacts from Ozette.

Eventually, several years after Huelsbeck landed a teaching job at PLU in 1989, Ledford said it made sense for him to connect his work there to his work in Neah Bay.

(Photos by John Froschauer, PLU)

The result is one of PLU’s longest standing J-Term immersion experiences, one of many study away programs within the Wang Center for Global Education.

Huelsbeck said many students study abroad in other countries after traveling to Neah Bay. Some regard the Makah immersion as their most profound study away experience, despite the relatively short drive from campus.

“It definitely isn’t a tourist experience,” he said. “That’s the whole point of study away.”

Despite that immersion, Ledford says, students only scratch the surface in the 12 days they study in Neah Bay.

“But it’s still meaningful because they’re here,” she said, as opposed to studying films or textbooks. “They see a continuum of Makah culture.”

Maintaining history

Students run the gamut of activities during their time on the Makah Reservation. They hear lots of stories, too.


Learn about other opportunities PLU offers to students pursuing short-term study away programs in January.

“You learn a lot in 12 days,” Longnecker said just a few days after arriving in Neah Bay last month.

They do manual labor for the MCRC; this year included work prepping for a lighting improvement project. They tour the village, Cape Flattery and the Ozette site itself. They participate in hands-on activities, such as making deer-hide drums and cedar bracelets. They visit the senior center and Head Start program, two of the many tribal-operated social service programs, to build relationships with Makah of all ages.

All of the activities, from start to finish, involve formal or informal education about Makah culture and values.

“I’m hoping the experience coming to Neah Bay and (learning about) Makah culture will lead to a reflection on their own lives, what it means to be a human in the company of others,” said Greg Colfax, a Makah carver who worked on the Ozette excavation effort. He shared a lecture about his experiences at the site.

Colfax spent more than two years at Ozette, working in a number of roles, including bringing clams and sockeye to the workers and guarding the site upon appointment from the police chief.

“It had nothing to do with the pursuit of science,” he said of his involvement. “It had to do with being a part of something very exciting.”

Colfax’s great-grandmother was born where the excavation took place. Growing up, he heard endless stories from elders about his ancestry there.

“I had a family connection,” he said. “Being there, I was seeing what they had seen long ago.”

Colfax said growing up Makah came with high expectations, not only from your own family, but from other families, to get the story of their people right. “That’s a strength of Makah culture,” he said. “It’s how a village raises a child.”

The values of orating history and raising children in community go hand in hand for the Makah.

Storytelling, something PLU students often participate in, is a responsibility that is passed through generations.

Jean Vitalis, a retired chief judge and current MCRC board member, said it’s important to teach Makah children to have a significant place in the world while also embracing their ancestry.

“I have a deep responsibility to my family, to keep as much of our history as possible,” Vitalis said. “That’s how we survived. Those traditions and values are just as important today as they were generations ago.”

That responsibility, Vitalis says, creates a deep bond between Makah tribal members and the reservation they call home. Her entire family — all four children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren — live in Neah Bay. Many left for college and returned, to give back to the community that raised them.

Ledford says that’s common among the tribe.

“When you’re Makah and your family has lived here since the beginning of time, it’s a strong connection,” Ledford said. Of course, the clean air, fresh fish and gorgeous scenery help draw them back, too, she added. “Once you come to Neah Bay and once you see the beauty of the place, you want to come back.”

Resilient spirit

Resiliency is prominent in Neah Bay. While community is vibrant and kinship ties run deep, Makah tribal members still face a number of challenges.

June Williams, who led a tour of the museum and cooked a clam-chowder meal for PLU students, said substance abuse is a pervasive problem.

But the tribe funds a health center that, among other services, offers rehabilitation for recovering addicts. Williams said once those folks turn their lives around, cultural education offers an outlet for staying on track.

“They come out of treatment and have a hunger for their heritage,” she said.

Other social service programs also combat domestic violence and trauma from varying causes, she added. Housing is provided to those in transition, part of the general housing program — one of 82 departments within the tribal government.

“Nobody should be stuck where they’re at,” Williams said.

Additionally, oral history is harder to maintain, said Arnold, the tribal council member. As elders die and technological distractions engulf youth, social interaction diminishes.

“All that messes with your ability to interact with nature,” he said. “But, it’s still our responsibility.”

Offsetting those changes is a deep commitment to cultural education through the museum, as well as local public schools. Both place heavy emphasis on learning the Makah language.

The tribe focuses on educational opportunities for Makah of all ages, Ledford said. Adult education helps tribal members earn GED certificates. Head Start offers free early childhood education and child care starting at infancy.

Everyone touts the near-perfect graduation rate at the public high school, which educates a student body that’s roughly 90 percent Makah.

Beyond that, Ledford says, all students attend college, join the Job Corps or enlist in the military after high school. Many of them eventually return, to apply the skills they’ve gained within the community.

“People stay here through the good, the bad and the inbetween,” Ledford said.

Many tribal members say that success in school is a direct result of the strong ties to identity, and the respect the school district has for that identity.

Yvonne Wilkie, a storyteller who invited PLU students to her home, said cultural education builds confidence and empowers students.

“They are comfortable in their own skin,” she said. “It makes a huge difference in how they think of themselves. And they know they always have this community to come back to.”

That community is one that is present at every stage of life, for everyone. PLU has become a part of the fabric, at least for a short time each January.

One Friday night during J-Term, Huelsbeck brought PLU students to Neah Bay High School’s boys and girls basketball games. It’s an annual tradition that shows one way Makah culture intersects with that of PLU students — a slice of small-town America under Friday night lights, Huelsbeck says.

Nearly everyone the students met from Day One sat courtside. Both teams won handily, against a backdrop of enthusiastic support from relatives, extended family, friends and more. (Those family values stick with PLU students long after they return home.)

Every few minutes, a familiar face greeted Huelsbeck. Each one took a seat next to him, eager to hear about this year’s group from PLU. Some lingered longer than others, but all parted with the same farewell message:

“Welcome back to Neah Bay, Dave.”

Sam Rise and Allison Small hugging while in Namibia, Africa
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Immersive experience abroad guides aspiring teachers — and kindles romance between two Lutes

Sam Rise and Allison Small, barely acquaintances, boarded their first plane en route to Namibia along with a cadre of aspiring teachers in January 2012.

The Pacific Lutheran University students knew their lives were about to change during their time studying away in the southern African nation. But neither anticipated just how much. And they didn’t expect one of the biggest changes to take hold before arriving in Windhoek.

It’s a long story, and the details waver depending on who tells it, but it starts with a broken TV screen on the airplane, a detour during their layover in Europe and a city full of shuttered businesses.

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

“We got there on a Sunday morning in January and everything was closed,” Allison recalled with a chuckle, side-eying her now husband about his idea to jaunt away from the group to Wiesbaden, Germany.

“Everyone else had a good time in Frankfurt,” Sam quipped in response.

It took four days for Sam and Allison’s relationship to bloom. Five years later, they’re happily married and fondly recall their studies in Namibia’s capital city.

One of them continues to teach as originally planned, the other took a slightly different path. Both credit Namibia for the direction of their vocation.

And they aren’t alone.

Many students carry lifelong lessons with them after returning from Windhoek, says Jan Weiss, assistant professor of education.

An educational relationship that started with a grant-funded teacher training program involving PLU faculty members has evolved into a deeply immersive experience for PLU students.

The education component in Namibia, one of many focuses in the Gateway program there, is built on close collaboration between PLU and the University of Namibia.

Participants such as the Rises, Weiss says, develop mutual respect, empathy and confidence in a different culture, while honing their abilities to adapt and problem solve.

“The interaction with Namibians from all areas, not just education, is ongoing and consistent,” Weiss said. “Through those relationships that continue over time, there’s this sense of trust and authenticity.”

That trust creates a learning lab where lessons go both ways — Namibian teachers mentor PLU students on classroom management while also drawing from the students’ experiences themselves.

“It’s a reciprocal learning program for Namibians and U.S. students,” Weiss said. “The teachers in Namibia trust the preparation levels of PLU students.”

‘Learning on the fly’

Allison Rise graduated from PLU in 2012, and went on to earn a master’s degree at Seattle University. As a school psychologist who helps determine if students in the Auburn School District face learning disabilities, she said flexibility and improvisation are key. She learned about both while studying away.

In Namibia, Allison said the average day of teaching was intense — 12 hours split between the school and an orphanage or after-school enrichment program. It often involved “learning on the fly,” she said.

One time, during Allison’s planning hour, a group of students found her and asked if she could teach them art in place of an absent teacher. (Weiss says Namibians struggle to find substitutes in such cases.)

So, she did, relying on her literacy skills as opposed to her limited art skills to come up with a quick, engaging activity. She grabbed a picture book, read it aloud without showing her learners the pictures and asked them to illustrate a part of the story. Then, they shared their work and compared interpretations of what they heard.

“Not bad for 30 seconds of prep, if I do say so myself,” Allison said.

She also taught geography, a steep learning curve for a newcomer with very little knowledge of the country.

“I had to teach the 13 regions of Namibia,” she said, eyes wide. “That prepared me to be a school psychologist, jumping in and figuring it out as I go.”

Another challenge was communicating. Allison said many of the students she worked with in Windhoek still were learning English. Overcoming a language barrier in an immersive learning environment prepared Allison to work with English language learners in her job today.

Weiss says it’s vital for aspiring teachers to interact with students from different cultures, as Allison and others have and continue to do in Namibia.

“They realize every child has their own story and that’s what they need to know to teach effectively,” Weiss said. “You all of a sudden recognize that you’re comfortable navigating a world that is so different from your own.”

Sam underscored that point: “It forces you to think about how to teach differently.”

Going back

Sam’s experience in Namibia didn’t end with PLU. He finished his master’s degree in July 2012 and immediately left to do Peace Corps work in Aranos, Namibia, about four hours away from where the couple originally studied. He split his time between two host families and taught science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as robotics for grades 8-12.

“They really wanted me to push STEM,” he said. “They see it as an opportunity to get into the Western economic and communication world.”

Tamara Williams, executive director of the Wang Center for Education at PLU, said STEM is a major academic focus throughout many aspects of the Namibia Gateway program. Writing is another, she said.

Sam says his time teaching in PLU’s program helped affirm his love of teaching. More specifically, it affirmed his desire to work with marginalized communities.


This English-speaking country provides an ideal location for students in education and the natural sciences to study at the University of Namibia and gain necessary work experience through an internship and practicum.

In Namibia, he gained experience dealing with issues that teachers in those situations face — poverty, language barriers, lack of resources — in a global context.

Not all the teaching moments were easy, but Sam said they were necessary.

“Struggling with things is where learning happens,” he said. “You have to go into a study abroad experience with a growth mindset, because it’s going to be hard. You have to be resilient. There is no going back home.”

Education major Anna Parker ’17 said those unexpected challenges offered the most enriching learning opportunities.

She said she learned to be resourceful during her time co-teaching with her mentor, since Namibian teachers often must create any of the learning materials they use from scratch — such as letters that adorn the walls or illustrations in picture books.

Parker also strengthened her classroom management skills, after working with double the number of learners she was used to back home.

Those and other skills she absorbed by collaborating with her Namibian teacher.

“I learned a lot from her. She was very firm, but extremely loving,” Parker said. “She was hard on her kids, but they knew that she loved them and they loved her back.”

Parker, much like the Rises who came before her, stressed the importance of teaching in a culture that’s different from your own. The trust that Weiss builds as an “honorary Namibian,” she said, leads to more authentic interactions.

“You need to be adaptable,” Parker said. “From my perspective, you can really only gain those things from travel. It’s the best way to understand yourself as well as other people.”

Be uncomfortable

While Allison and Sam both recognize the struggles they faced abroad, they also recognize — and urge others to recognize — the privilege that comes with an immersive experience.

Some of the places PLU students visit while studying away in Namibia are places local kids may never see in their lives due to poverty, illness, lack of transportation and other socioeconomic factors.

“This is these kids’ lives. This is their day to day,” Allison said. “Even when you’re having this immersive experience, there’s still that privilege there.”

Sam stressed the importance of harnessing the power of privilege.

“It’s what you do with your privilege once you acknowledge it that makes the difference,” he said. “I think that’s why I wanted to go back and do Peace Corps.”

For Allison, she used her privilege to create connections between her students here and abroad.

Upon returning to the U.S., she jumped right back into a classroom she was working in before she left, this time as a student teacher. The Tacoma school looked different than the one she experienced in Windhoek — twice the size with half the kids.

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

She had students in her classrooms from each country exchange letters. “I wanted them to understand where I was going and what I was doing,” she said of her American students. “I wanted to use it as a teaching tool.”

Sam and Allison credit Windhoek “100 percent” for finding each other. Their wedding rings were handcrafted by a Namibian jeweler, and their home is adorned with souvenirs from their time there — reminders of the time everything changed.

But the biggest reminder of their time studying away is the love they have for the work they do.

The experiences that landed them where they are today came with plenty of challenges, but the Namibia program allowed them more space to dive deeper into those complexities.

“There’s something to be said about doing your best learning out of your comfort zone,” Sam said.

Allison agreed.

“It’s important to be uncomfortable,” she said. “This is an easy way to be uncomfortable really fast.”

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An overlooking view on the water and island in Trindad
Trinidad and Tobago 1024 532 Kari Plog '11

Trinidad and Tobago

Immersive multicultural experience teaches Lutes to celebrate difference

Candice Hughes ’08 grew up in Sangre Grande, the largest town in northeastern Trinidad, part of the twin-island Caribbean nation Trinidad and Tobago. All things considered, she knew her home well.

But in 2004, her perspective changed.

With the help of a government-funded scholarship, she enrolled alongside Pacific Lutheran University students who were studying away at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, less than an hour from where she was raised. Immersed as a local in PLU’s program, she started seeing her home through new eyes.

“The government saw lots of foreigners were coming here and learning about our country and our history, in a deeper way than even locals,” Hughes said, on a warm and breezy day in the Caribbean last year. “So, they decided to put locals in the program with the PLU students.”

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

That’s when Hughes started to look beyond her rudimentary understanding of Trinidadian traditions she thought she knew so well.

“When you live in a place, you don’t question things,” Hughes said. “Before I got involved in this program, I didn’t even know half of this stuff.”

That stuff, Hughes and others say, transforms those who experience it. Students meet the “living legends” who have mastered steelpan and calypso music. They experience the revival of the cocoa industry and get an intimate look at the planning behind exuberant events such as Carnival and Panorama.

And, most importantly, they dive into deep questions about identity, race, gender, colonialism and other complexities.

“It’s a growing and learning experience,” said Maya Bamba ’18, who participated in the program spring 2016. “You will come back a different person, whether you realize it or not.”

Hughes is still experiencing growth, through the eyes of current Lutes. She’s the on-site program coordinator, based near the University of the West Indies, located just outside Port of Spain.

“Candice is a living example of a PLU education living out in the world,” said Greg Youtz, Trinidad program director and professor of music. “It’s a dream team we have working with us in Trinidad.”

Hughes acknowledges that many students are attracted to the program because of Carnival, an annual celebration rich with music, dancing, costumes and more that Hughes says “engulfs the whole country.” But the semester abroad provides students with deeper meaning behind the elaborate festival.

“They go beyond just having a good time,” she said.

Among the cultural education, students experience how people from a wide array of religious and ethnic backgrounds live side by side in a small, tight-knit community.

“Candice is a living example of a PLU education living out in the world. It’s a dream team we have working with us in Trinidad.”
– Greg Youtz

“The program allows students an opportunity they may not have anywhere else, to really immerse themselves in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multireligious society,” Hughes said. “There’s all this cultural activity happening in different pockets. We don’t just tolerate each other. We celebrate each other’s differences.”

A shift in consciousness

Several months and thousands of miles away from Hughes, Barbara Temple-Thurston punctuated those remarks, as though the two sat next to each other in the retired professor’s North Tacoma living room.

Temple-Thurston says Trinidad is what her native South Africa should have been. As symptoms of apartheid continue to plague her homeland, the beloved Caribbean island she considered a part-time home for two decades embraces widespread difference.

“Trinidadians have such a beautiful attitude toward race,” she said. “It’s not segregated at all. Everybody knows everybody. There’s tolerance of everybody’s difference. And they’re proud of it.”

That attitude inspired Temple-Thurston to start the study away program, which she coordinated for most of the 25 years she taught at PLU. It’s one of the oldest semester-long Gateways, programs rooted in long-term partnerships between the university and regions around the world.

While people in the United States often experience acute segregation, apprehension to discuss racial difference and fear of white guilt, Temple-Thurston said, Trinidad is the antithesis.

“I wanted a shift in their racial consciousness,” she said of students who travel there.

The diversity-interested program was the first of its kind to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago. It intentionally thrusts students into the thick of cultural diversity.

“Trinidadians say it like it is,” Temple-Thurston said. “It changes our students profoundly.”

It wasn’t enough for students to attend the university, however. Temple-Thurston wanted them immersed in the community — one foot on campus, one in the folk culture.

Trini native John Cupid was the key to successful immersion, she said. He contacted Temple-Thurston out of the blue, when he learned she was developing the program. His local connections led to rich experiences off campus and eventually improved the cultural competence of the University of the West Indies, as well.


This program provides students a unique opportunity to explore the islands and the varied heritage of this multicultural society.

“Mr. Cupid was the one who knew where real stuff happened,” Temple-Thurston said.

With so many cultural groups on the island, students also were encouraged to complete a diverse array of weeklong homestays, so they could sample different walks of life.

The practice continues today. It’s the students’ first glimpse of the warm, intimate culture they quickly grow to love.

“Different students go to different homes,” Temple-Thurston said, from wealthy Afro-Trinidadian families to extremely religious Hindu households.

Youtz said the guest house where students live throughout the semester builds upon that slice-of-life experience. Located in Tunapuna, it’s situated two blocks from the popular market of the same name. The atmosphere is alive, vibrant and authentic, Youtz says.

“A great deal of what students get out of Trinidad is beyond the classroom,” Youtz said. “It isn’t fancy, but it’s real.”

That vision helps students learn about themselves in profound ways once they return to the U.S. “Students often realize they are no longer the person they were when they left,” he said.

Bringing the island home

Eventually, Temple-Thurston and others realized bringing Lutes to Trinidad was half the equation. They wanted to complete the cultural exchange.

“We are getting so much from this culture,” Temple-Thurston recalled telling herself. “We must give back in some way.”

So, locals in Trinidad, the country’s minister of culture and the PLU administration collaborated to bring students from Trinidad to the Parkland campus. About nine students at a time have attended PLU thanks to the government-funded program. Hughes was the first to seize the opportunity.

Temple-Thurston said it allowed students there to earn a degree while also bringing a new cultural perspective — and that valuable racial consciousness — to campus. The program lasted about five or six years. It ended as a result of constant government turnover in Trinidad, she said.

While the program was active, Hughes said many of her fellow Trinidadians followed her lead, bringing island flavor to the Pacific Northwest.

“We formed a Trini posse and took the campus by storm,” she said, with a grin.

The new cultural presence on campus included starting a PLU edition of Carnival, which included a parade of lively dancing, singing and costuming.

Still, nothing compares to the real thing. In Trinidad, PLU students don’t just attend Carnival — they’re an intimate part of it.

“Here you’re actually participating,” said Bamba, who learned traditional stick fighting during her time abroad last year. “You get to be a part of it instead of just observing.”

Trinidad and Tobago

Youtz said Carnival is a collective statement about Trinidad’s history and culture — an “astonishing explosion of human creativity.” Students learn traditional choreography, choose their own costumes and think through the meaning behind them. One year, PLU and its students were featured for nearly 10 minutes during the national broadcast.

“People are blown away,” Hughes said. “Because students are able to go beyond that tourist view of Trinidad and Tobago, locals are willing to open up to them. It’s a partnership that’s formed.”

As a result, learning goes beyond lectures in a classroom at the university. It includes seeking out the “living legends,” as Hughes calls them, learning from the personal experience of those who have witnessed the cultural traditions as they’ve formed.

The list of legends includes world-renowned authors, calypso artists, Carnival designers and more.

Shelondra Harris ’17 said it’s amazing to be a part of such a spectacular event and have the opportunity to meet local celebrities and leaders.

“It’s really cool that the program allows us to have these interactions,” she said during her time in Trinidad. “Everyone you meet, whether they are a historian or a person on the street, they know some bit about their history.”

Additionally, students participate in internships at orphanages, schools and more. “Students in the Trinidad program are very busy,” Youtz said.

Still, the schedule includes some downtime. “Of course, we organize trips to the beach,” he said. “All the Caribbean paradise stuff is there.”

Temple-Thurston says that’s the epitome of local living in Trinidad. “Trinis work hard and they play hard,” she said. “They’re no slouches.”

Temple-Thurston said Trinidad is the perfect place to jumpstart global education, which she says allows people “to love so much more richly and openly.”

“It will open your heart, your mind and your consciousness in ways that’s hard for you to imagine at this point,” she said. “It makes you see your culture through new eyes.”

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

Hughes hopes that fellow Lutes who return from Trinidad will be inspired to learn more about their own cultures — just as she did. Perhaps they will take that first trip to Mount Rainier, or explore corners of their community they never knew existed.

“You return with that vigor,” she said. “That vigor of understanding your own self, understanding your own community, understanding your own country.”

As for the students who have yet to open that door, Hughes says, Trinidadians are waiting.

“Everybody knows PLU’s coming,” she said. “They are expecting us.”

Inside a beautiful gold-colored Church in Oaxaca, Mexico
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Undocumented student struggles to reconcile identity in Oaxaca

Editor’s note: The name of the undocumented student featured in this story was changed to protect her identity. Given the uncertain future of the immigration policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), ResoLute granted anonymity to “Sophia” in order for her to speak freely about her experience with the Oaxaca, Mexico, study away program.

Sophia silently stood in the Oaxaca International Airport, paperwork in hand, flooded with a haze of emotion.

Equal parts excited and overwhelmed, she prepared to begin a long-awaited study away experience that almost didn’t happen.

But after stepping off the plane, thousands of miles from Pacific Lutheran University and her family’s home, Sophia paused. Two lines divided incoming travelers: one for visitors, another for those returning home.

“What line do I go through?” the PLU senior recalled asking herself.

Sophia emigrated to the United States from Mexico about 17 years ago. Her family relocated to Tacoma in pursuit of better opportunities, she says.

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)

Sophia, who holds a work permit, is a beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy started by the Obama administration in 2012 that allows undocumented minors and students to remain in the U.S. as well as study at American colleges.

A laborious process landed Sophia in that airport, pondering her identity alongside fellow Lutes.

“I wasn’t sure if I was to go to the visitor’s side because I had advance parole paperwork, or if I was to go through the domestic line since I carried a Mexican passport,” she said. “It took me a solid five minutes before I went directly to an officer to ask.”

That was the first development in Sophia’s semester-long identity struggle, one that continues more than a year after she returned to the U.S.

“Even in the airport,” she said, “there was a clash of identity.”

Worth the fuss

Sophia first caught the travel bug her sophomore year of college, after learning more about PLU’s extensive study away programs and watching other students apply for them.

However, looming uncertainty about the risks of traveling given her undocumented status forced her to reconsider.

“I wasn’t 100 percent guaranteed re-entry to the country,” she said.


This program explores the intersection of development, culture and social change through the lens of the dynamic context of contemporary Mexico.

But after hearing success stories, as the mystery shrouding DACA started to clear, she had a change of heart. “That inspired me, in a way, to push for it,” she said.

The process was complex — lots of paperwork and lots of waiting. Sophia endured both.

She applied for advance parole, which is required of all DACA recipients pursuing travel outside the U.S. She paid several hundred dollars to submit the paperwork, which outlined detailed information about the Oaxaca program. She met regularly with an attorney to guarantee the greatest odds of approval.

Months before students were scheduled to leave, her advance parole was granted.

Then, a thief nearly robbed Sophia of the fruits of her persistence.

En route to one of three jobs, just before taking her important documents to her sister’s house for safe keeping, Sophia’s wallet was stolen out of her car while she pumped gas. The documentation she needed to travel — including her Social Security card, work authorization card and passport — was gone.

Though Sophia worked diligently to replace the documents, she doubted that Oaxaca was still in the picture and eventually withdrew from the program.

“At that point going to Mexico was the last thing on my mind,” she said.

Oaxaca, Mexico

(Photos by John Froschauer, PLU)

Then, weeks before the Oaxaca program began, the replacement documents arrived. A host of PLU departments worked to re-enroll Sophia in the program, cancel her on-campus housing and secure the necessary financial aid. Even then, she said, “it was so close to the program start date, I didn’t know if I’d get to go.”

The Friday before her classmates were set to fly, Sophia booked airfare and her study away experience was a go. Finally.

She never questioned whether all the fuss was worth it. After all, she said, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. “I wanted to be able to say ‘at least I tried’ and took advantage of a potential opportunity.”

The only way back

Sophia is the first and only PLU student to study outside the U.S. under those circumstances, said Tamara Williams, executive director of the Wang Center for Global Education and Oaxaca program director.

“It took courage,” Williams said.

The essence of the program catered to Sophia’s internal struggle. It centers on social justice and the roots of migration, Williams said, with an academic focus on the humanities and social sciences, among other disciplines.

Williams said the program helps break away from the oversaturation of negative stories coming out of Mexico. “Oaxaca allows students to learn about places of hope,” she said.

Despite overcoming so many obstacles to study in Oaxaca, Sophia’s relatives on both sides of the border were unsure that she would successfully return from her semester abroad in fall 2015. Sophia wasn’t even sure. But she had to take a chance.

“For me it was more than just studying abroad,” Sophia said. “This was the only legal way I could go back.”

Sophia’s family moved to the U.S. when she was just 4 years old. Despite her nearly lifelong Tacoma upbringing, she never considered herself American. Her family spoke Spanish at home and ate traditional Mexican food. She recognized at an early age that she was living a different life than her peers because of her citizenship status.

“I have never questioned my Mexican identity,” she said.

That all changed after she studied away. She’s been re-evaluating how she self identifies since that awakening moment in the airport. “That’s a work in progress,” she said. “I can definitely say I identify as both (American and Mexican).”

The constant reflection and evaluation was, and continues to be, a meaningful experience, Sophia stressed. She said the study away program prompted her to ask bigger questions about her identity — growth that went beyond the scope of the coursework.

Still, the program itself is powerful. It includes an intensive Spanish course, a salsa dancing class, an immersive homestay with a local family, participation in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities, nonprofit internship opportunities and more.

Sophia volunteered with Fundación En Vía, an organization that supports social and community development through microfinance, responsible tourism and education. Empowering women is key to the nonprofit.

“This opportunity allowed me to meet local women and learn about their businesses, their goals and hopes for the future,” she said.

Outside the classroom, Sophia said she struggled to reconcile the stark contrast between her experience traveling with a private institution and the experiences of low-income residents of Oaxaca.

Once, upon her father’s request, she asked an employee at a cafe how much the minimum wage was. He said it was roughly 70 pesos.

“Per hour?” she asked him, baffled.

“No,” he responded. “Per day.”

Sophia was shocked. The amount was about 20 cents more than she paid for her cup of coffee.

“The Mexico I lived was a very privileged Mexico,” she acknowledged. “Even though my situation is very complex, there is privilege within my circumstance.”

Despite the challenging realities she faced, Sophia recognizes the value of seeing those disparities first hand.

“It’s one thing to hear about it and see it through the media,” she said. “It’s another thing to live through it. I wanted to see where I came from.”

Seize the opportunity

After she returned to PLU, Sophia originally planned to advocate for fellow DACA students looking to study away, just as she relentlessly advocated for herself. Now, Sophia says with a heavy heart, that plan has changed.

As a new president takes office and the political climate continues to drastically shift, she says it’s no longer safe for undocumented students to take the same leap of faith she did more than a year ago.

Sophia is glad she seized the opportunity during the short window when travel outside the U.S. was possible.

“Despite all the barriers I had to go through,” she said, “I loved my experience and wish I could have gone on another study away trip.”

As for students who don’t face the same obstacles, Sophia urges them to take advantage of the opportunity — a privilege she says shouldn’t be wasted.

“You learn so much about yourself,” she said. “Use your privilege to educate yourself. Putting yourself in a vulnerable position will permit students to grow personally, educationally and holistically.”

(Video by Rustin Dwyer, PLU)
Namibia - students doing lab tests
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Gut Biology

Ann Auman, professor of biology and program director for the study away program in Namibia, is bringing a research component to her students’ semester away in spring 2017 thanks to Wang Center funding.

Auman, a microbiologist, is guiding her students in an experiment studying so-called “gut biology.” Students will swab stool samples (yes, science can be dirty work) and mail them to a lab for testing before and during their time in Namibia to compare how microbes in their bodies change, due to shifts in diet, environmental conditions and more.

Microbes share a lot of information about human health, Auman says. Imbalances may be affected by diseases, such as diabetes. They also may affect a person’s mental health or likelihood of weight gain.

“It’s telling you how you compare to the average healthy person,” Auman said. “Often the gut influences things we didn’t realize.”

It’s not a glamorous task, of course, but it will offer a detailed look into the students’ bodies and provide an educational experience that forces them to look at the research in a new context, Auman said.

“It’s important to recognize that science crosses international boundaries,” she said.

The Wang Center funded gut microbiome sequencing kits for the experiment. The testing amounts to about $50 per person, per sample.

The experiment will contribute to a wide-ranging study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. “They want lots of people to participate,” Auman said of NIH.

Auman already has tested a version of this experiment with capstone students on campus at PLU. They looked at their test results and chose interesting data points to reflect upon and analyze.

In Namibia, students will build upon that approach by also reflecting on the factors they believe impacted the changes, as well as what those findings mean for Namibians’ microbiomes.

Auman noted that many of the diseases that affect microbiomes are often Western diseases.

“Our Western culture tends to diminish the diversity of microbiomes,” she said; the diversity of them correlates with human health.

In other words, more diversity of microbiomes means healthier people.

Auman left for Namibia Jan. 8, 2016, with her 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. Her children are enrolled in a private international school in Windhoek. She’s excited for them to experience the same cultural education that her PLU students will experience.

“We need to be culturally aware,” she said, “whether we’re scientists or just people.”

Paul and Mary Bradshaw, parents of Lt. Brian Bradshaw ’07, with PLU President Thomas W. Krise at the 2016 PLU Military Appreciation Football Game. (photo by John Froschauer/PLU)
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Brian Bradshaw ’07

TACOMA, WASH. (Nov. 1, 2016)- Lt. Brian Bradshaw was an understated leader who put everyone else first. Ask anyone who knew him.

Instead of walking with his head down past the crying stranger in the lobby of a residence hall at Pacific Lutheran University, he insisted the young woman accompany him skiing to cheer her up.

Likewise, without a craving for recognition, he took ROTC cadets under his wing, propping them up and helping them excel alongside him until he graduated from PLU in 2007.

So, it was unsurprising to those closest to him that Bradshaw died while running to help injured soldiers in his convoy near the border of Pakistan in June 2009, just three months after deploying to Afghanistan.

“Of course that’s how Brian died,” his friend, Dom Calata, recalled thinking as the details of Bradshaw’s death began to surface. “Being a hero.”

Still, despite the consistency of character that inevitably put him in harm’s way, Bradshaw’s loved ones never doubted he would come home. His death was the only thing that surprised them.

“Brian is immortal,” Calata said to himself through tears as he sat on the sidewalk in front of a movie theater in Fort Hood, Texas, after learning that an improvised explosive device had taken the life of one of his dearest friends. “The next thought I had was, ‘what can I do?’”

Calata decided to make his way through his contact list, calling the people whose lives were touched by his selfless friend. “That was when everyone started tiptoeing into other parts of Brian’s life.”

Mary Bradshaw is still tiptoeing seven years after her son’s death. “He had a way of inspiring people,” she said. “And he still does.”

Mary says her son was a very private person.

Although she taught in PLU’s School of Nursing part of the time Brian was a student, she said she didn’t know any of his college friends. He never brought girls home to his parents’ house in Steilacoom, and even carefully avoided combining different friend groups.

“He was sure I’d bring out the naked baby pictures or something,” she said, laughing.

Now, Mary keeps in contact with those who were closest to Brian. She once invited a couple of his female friends over to sew. If Brian knew that, Mary said with a laugh, “he would be mortified.”

Poster for the Veterans Day Celebration at PLU
Honoring Veterans
Mary and Paul Bradshaw were on the field ahead of PLU’s annual Military Appreciation Football Game on Nov. 5.

Mary said her son’s spirit lives on through connections made by she and her husband, Paul, with people they would never have met otherwise. “We’ve learned more about Brian than we would have,” she said.

Among the many stories, one characteristic stands out — Brian’s ability to inspire. Many of his fellow soldiers considered him a father figure despite his young age. As a platoon leader, Brian gave troops the strength to power through a 10-day patrol when others struggled to motivate their crew for half that amount of time.

He was a gentle person, Mary said, who would reach out to the underdog and pick people up when they were down. “When someone would fall (during soccer), he was the sort of kid who would stop and help them up, not chase after the ball,” she said.

Mary Bradshaw said her son always wanted to join the Army, following in the footsteps of both his parents, who are now retired from the service. “He felt very strongly about serving his country,” she said.

After a summer working with ROTC cadets at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and military training at Fort Benning in Georgia, Brian moved to Alaska on assignment in August 2008. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2009.

“Brian was coming home,” Mary said. “I was sure of it.” She was still in the Army when she received the news. Two officers were waiting for her in an office at work. As soon as she saw the chaplain’s cross, she knew.

“I asked the question every mother asks,” Mary said. “‘Are you sure?’” Her question was immediately followed by a brief vision: Brian, in full uniform, running toward her with a smile on his face. Then, reality hit.

Upon realizing she didn’t have any recent photos of her son, Mary requested some from his platoon. One of her favorites shows him smiling just after arriving in Afghanistan. He rarely smiled in photos, Mary recalled; he specialized in silly faces.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years,” she said.

The Bradshaws are now considered Gold Star parents, part of a group of families who lost loved ones in war. It’s a membership nobody wants, yet it offers support for those who need it most. Mary has bonded with other mothers through the program.

She also started participating in marathons – five and counting – to honor her son. “I was not a runner,” she said, adding that the only running she had done previously was that required of soldiers in the Army. “I’m a runner now.”

PLU also honors Brian’s legacy, thanks to the ongoing support of the Bradshaws and other donors.

Upon making arrangements for Brian’s funeral, Mary and Paul Bradshaw knew people would want to give back, just as Brian always did. PLU immediately came to mind as one beneficiary of any monetary donations received. That was the beginning of the Brian Bradshaw Endowed Scholarship.

One student each year receives the funding, which is offered to ROTC and veteran students who have completed their first year and earned a 3.0 GPA or higher. The Bradshaws donate to it every year, and the fund continues to grow. The hope is to increase the number of recipients and possibly open it up to dependents and spouses of veterans, too.

Brian Bradshaw Endowed Scholarship

Email or call 253-535-7177 to learn more about the scholarship in honor of Brian Bradshaw, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Farnum, director of military outreach at PLU, said the scholarship serves to honor exemplary leadership, as well as the person who epitomized it.

“It is important to keep Brian’s memory alive so that others may know what excellence looks like, so that they might emulate him,” Farnum said. Not all military-affiliated students have access to the funding needed to pursue their dreams, he added. “If we can help lift someone up like Brian would, then we will undoubtedly be able to do more good in the world.”

Dave Gunovich, dean of enrollment services, echoed Farnum’s remarks. He was Bradshaw’s admission counselor when the aspiring soldier enrolled at PLU.

Gunovich said PLU was the perfect fit for the “warm leader” — an unlikely Army man who everyone wants to see serving this country. Bradshaw was the kind of person who trains leaders to make a difference in the Army, Gunovich said.

“It is important to keep Brian’s memory alive so that others may know what excellence looks like, so that they might emulate him. … If we can help lift someone up like Brian would, then we will undoubtedly be able to do more good in the world.”
– Sgt. 1st Class Michael Farnum, director of military outreach at PLU

“Brian was that kind of guy,” he said. “Those are the ones who can affect change.”

Calata is proof of that philosophy, the result of a chain reaction of Bradshaw’s leadership at PLU. “He was a year ahead of me and I kind of followed his footsteps,” said Calata, who graduated in 2008 and completed three tours of duty before recently starting his job at the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Calata said fellow students fondly called him “Brian Junior.” In a nationally renowned ROTC program, Calata said his friend was the best of the best, so that was quite the compliment.

Mary said she loves talking about Brian and all the lives he put before his own. She isn’t sure if these and other stories about him will ever stop surfacing.

“I’m always surprised,” she said.