St. Olaf College

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A private liberal arts college of the Lutheran church in Minnesota
Updated: 6 min 44 sec ago

Learning to manage the arts

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 4:00pm

Sarah Bauer ’17 interned with the La Jolla Music Society this summer, working to put together the organization’s annual SummerFest.

Every summer, college students across the country flock to music festivals to soak up a little sun and a lot of great music. St. Olaf College student Sarah Bauer ’17 was no exception this year — but instead of simply enjoying a music festival, she helped make it happen.

This summer Bauer interned with the La Jolla Music Society, working to put together the organization’s annual SummerFest in California.

SummerFest is a chamber music festival featuring more than 80 world-class artists and ensembles throughout August. Bauer worked on everything from creating musician schedules to constructing an online artist review center that allows musicians who play in the festival to approve audio recordings of their performances.

“My favorite part of the experience was being able to work in every department, from marketing to education. Most internships only allow student access to one facet of an organization — and while you may be learning great new skills, you’re missing out on whole departments,” Bauer says.

Sarah Bauer ’17 stands in front of one of the stages at SummerFest, a chamber music festival featuring more than 80 world-class artists and ensembles.

Her time with the La Jolla Music Society enabled Bauer to see how she might apply her music performance major to a career in the arts.

“I plan on entering the arts management field after graduation, and my internship has shown me that I’d love to work in either marketing or artistic development,” she says.

Bauer received internship funding from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career to support her time in California this summer.

In the past year, 107 St. Olaf students have received Piper Center funding for unpaid or underpaid internships. Another 107 students have received internship funding through college programs such as the Rockswold Health Scholars Program, the Svoboda Legal Scholars Program, and the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund — all part of the college’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths.

Bauer, a member of the St. Olaf Choir who has participated in operas as part of St. Olaf Lyric Theater, says her experience with music on campus prepared her well for her time with La Jolla this summer.

“My music education has been valuable because at St. Olaf, we dissect every single part of the music-making process — from the theory behind a composition, to rehearsing it for a performance, to performing it live,” Bauer says. “I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the music-making process so many times that when I was put in a position to coordinate other musicians, I knew what needed to be done and how to execute it effectively.”

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf student conducts research at National Institutes of Health

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 3:05pm

Sydney Geiger ’18 (right) and National Institutes of Health biomedical engineer Afrouz Anderson stand in front of a poster describing the research they worked on together using emerging brain imaging technology.

St. Olaf College student Sydney Geiger ’18 spent her summer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she conducted research that involved emerging brain imaging technology as part of the Amgen Scholars Program.

The new technology that Geiger adopted in her research is called Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. This device measures changes in blood oxygenation in cortical regions of the brain, which can then be used as biomarkers for brain activation. Geiger explains that “the technology is appealing because it is non-invasive and portable, allowing brain activity to be monitored in real-life settings.”

After Geiger had familiarized herself with the device, she was able to pose her own research question to her mentor, biomedical engineer Afrouz Anderson. The two of them explored right and left prefrontal cortex activation in subjects performing a working memory task. “We found some exciting results,” Geiger says, and Anderson is continuing to pursue this project.

Sydney Geiger ’18 in her National Institutes of Health lab with some of the research available on Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy.

“She is keeping me updated on the research and has asked me to help write some parts of the paper that we are hoping to have published,” says Geiger.

The summer that she spent at NIH was deeply influential for Geiger, who is majoring in biology at St. Olaf.

“It was incredible for my development as a scientist and as a student,” says Geiger, a TRIO McNair Scholar who also participates in the Northstar STEM Alliance at St. Olaf. “I was able to take part in the research process from beginning to end and gain an understanding of how an experiment goes from the conception of the research question to the drafting of a final paper.”

Since Geiger is trying to determine whether she would rather become a medical doctor or a physician-scientist, the glimpses that she gained into these two careers through the Amgen Scholars Program were instrumental. Beyond the research that she conducted, Geiger job shadowed and completed several informational interviews while at NIH.

The Amgen Scholars Program also appealed to Geiger because of its special focus on health disparities. Through weekly lectures from top scientists, roundtable discussions, and even the creation of their own policy briefs, the program encourages participants to consider barriers to achieving optimal health that socially disadvantaged populations experience.

Geiger left NIH not only more accomplished scientifically but also more informed socially.

“One of my priorities as a doctor or a physician-scientist will be to remain conscious of health disparities and work to combat them,” she says. “The Amgen Scholars Program allowed me to connect my passion for positive change with my passion for medicine and science.”

Amgen Scholars is an international program funded by the Amgen Foundation. The program partners with 17 leading educational and research institutions in the United States, Europe, and Japan to host undergraduate students in research labs. Participants are able to conduct research under world-renown faculty mentors as well as attend symposiums, seminars, and networking events.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf professor’s art exhibit links ordinary tools, Old Testament

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 4:26pm

Splendor, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 60″ x 72″

What do hammers and handsaws have to do with the prophet Ezekiel and the Old Testament?

In her new exhibit Sacred Spaces, St. Olaf College Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Michon Weeks combines large-scale paintings of common objects found in her garage with text from Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel from the Old Testament.

“Ezekiel wrote about his vision of the heavenly world brought to earth in the form of spirit-animated wheels. My garage is filled with many ordinary wheeled objects. When I abstract the objects and combine them with text from Ezekiel’s vision, I aim to construct a visual metaphor of the sacred in the current time and place,” Weeks says.

Her work will be showcased at the Northfield Arts Guild from September 29 to October 29, with an opening reception on Friday, September 30, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Wheel Within a Wheel, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 60″ x 48″

Members of the St. Olaf community, however, don’t need to wait until the end of September to see Weeks’ art. One of the paintings from this series covers a wall on the third floor of Old Main. The painting depicts an assortment of tools and equipment, with Ezekiel’s quotes spread out within the tools. The painting also includes a description by Ezekiel scholar and St. Olaf Professor of Religion Maggie Odell.

Weeks has created 11 new paintings for the exhibition, and she hopes that they help bring the ancient text of the Old Testament alive for viewers in the same way that they have done for her.

“I sometimes find sacred stories difficult to relate to, because they were written in a distant place and time and seem unbelievable to my contemporary mind. I have found that abstract visual art helps me see the metaphorical intersections of my culture, place, and time with ancient sacred stories,” Weeks says.

Weeks received funding to create this exhibit from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which was made possible by the voters of Minnesota.

The Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council exists to encourage, promote, and assist regional arts development by providing leadership, outreach, advocacy, mentorship, grants, and services.

Categories: Colleges

A theatrical learning opportunity

Fri, 09/09/2016 - 9:52am

St. Olaf College student Christine Menge ’18 (second from left) interned at the Children’s Theatre Company this summer alongside fellow Oles (from left) Rosie Linsner ’18, Shelby Reddig ’17, and Emily Cardinal ’19. Menge also took acting classes at the renowned Guthrie Theater.

As a teaching assistant at the Tony Award–winning Children’s Theatre Company this summer, Christine Menge ’18 had the opportunity to work with established theater professionals and college students from across the country.

Yet the people she learned the most from? The children she taught.

Menge says working with young people ranging in age from 5 to 18 served to remind her of the creative power of youth — and the importance of providing a space for it to flourish.

“I am continuously amazed at how self-aware and limitless children are,” she says. “There is no second-guessing when you’re a child; there is only ‘this,’ and ‘this’ is perfect no matter how many stumbles or scribbles or voice breaks. Teaching is a reciprocal process, and I was lucky enough to relearn that every week.”

Time magazine has called the Children’s Theatre Company “The #1 children’s theater in the nation,” and it was the first theater for young people to win the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater.

Menge landed her internship with the organization with the help of the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career. In her role as a teaching assistant at the Children’s Theatre Company, she developed curriculum and taught students to explore their imaginations and textual analysis skills through theater.

“In the classroom, I worked with teaching artists from around Minnesota to design and lead different classroom activities every week based on the camp’s themes and age groups,” says Menge, a theater major at St. Olaf with a concentration in management studies.

“Our goal was to give children tools to live creative, emotionally expressive lives inside and outside of theater.”

She was joined at the Children’s Theatre Company by friends and fellow Oles Emily Cardinal ’19, Rosie Linsner ’18 and Shelby Reddig ’17, who were also working as stage management and education interns.

In addition to her work at the Children’s Theatre Company, Menge also had the opportunity to further develop her own acting skills through two summer classes at the acclaimed Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

“We would meet, learn, and play, then take the skills that we learned in class into our everyday lives and meet again the next week to see how it went and add more tools to our actor toolboxes,” she says.

Menge says the summer experiences she had at the Children’s Theatre Company and the Guthrie Theater wouldn’t have been possible without the internship funding she received from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career.

In the past year, 107 St. Olaf students have received Piper Center funding for unpaid or underpaid internships. Another 107 students have received internship funding through college programs such as the Rockswold Health Scholars Program, the Svoboda Legal Scholars Program, and the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund — all part of the college’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths.

Menge says the opportunity to work with theater professionals off campus will enhance the remainder of her time on campus, where she is very active within the theater community. She is the managing director of Deep End Alpha Psi Omega Productions, St. Olaf’s largest student-run theater organization, and is a member of Scared Scriptless, St. Olaf’s improvisational theater group. She’s also a company member of the Myswyken Salad Theatre Company, where she does everything from acting to designing and directing.

“I met some amazing people this summer who have offered to do workshops at St. Olaf this year with our theater organization, Deep End Alpha Psi Omega Productions. Now their insights have the opportunity to become our insights, giving more students the chance to build their own networks of fellow creators,” Menge says.

Menge, who hopes to be an actor, theater teaching artist, and arts administrator after graduating from St. Olaf, says her experiences this summer have been invaluable in preparing her for a career on stage.

“In my Guthrie classes we talked a lot about ‘playing in the sandbox.’ It means being willing to invent and explore and get messy without the weight of self-doubt getting in the way,” Menge says. “I’m going to carry with me the sandbox idea that what we are is already enough, everything’s fine because the sky is not going to fall around us, and there’s room for everybody in here to do their own thing. So what are we waiting for? Let’s play.”

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf welcomes Class of 2020

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 9:12pm

St. Olaf College’s newest students gathered in Tostrud Center during their first weekend on campus to show off their matching black and gold T-shirts — and their class number, of course.

St. Olaf College recently welcomed the Class of 2020, a talented group of 830 first-year students that is the most diverse in the college’s history.

Hailing from 504 high schools in 42 states and 54 countries, these new Oles include 151 domestic students of color and 77 international students. The class also includes 22 Davis United World College Scholars and 13 National Merit finalists.

Fifteen members of the class were admitted last year and chose to defer, spending a gap year participating in Rotary Youth Exchange programs in Brazil and Indonesia, traveling in Ireland and Norway, taking classes at the National Outdoor Leadership School, teaching music lessons in Africa, and interning at the Smithsonian.

And while these numbers provide some insight into the incoming class, each new group of students is more than just a compilation of statistics and figures. The Class of 2020 also includes:

  • One student who is a competitive rock climber
  • Another who knows every line of every Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film
  • A student who can recite 60 digits of Pi
  • A student who is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and another who is related to one of the signers of the Mexican Declaration of Independence
  • Another who can recite every word in the Lord of the Rings movies
  • A host of students with lofty career ambitions — from becoming the St. Olaf mascot to a Disney Imagineer to the President of the United States to the Secretary General of the United Nations

“I’m excited to welcome the Class of 2020 to campus,” says St. Olaf Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Chris George ’94. “They are bright, enthusiastic, and driven. I look forward to their participation and involvement with the St. Olaf community over the next four years and beyond.”

Watch a video of members of the Class of 2020 settling in on campus:

Categories: Colleges

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