Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World is something many Cobbers do on a daily basis. This is especially true for the Concordia students who were recipients of this year's Swendseid Service Scholars Award.
Created by Solveig Swendseid '50, the scholarship pairs Cobbers with local nonprofit organizations that benefit women and/or children. Students are chosen for their GPA, previous volunteer work and passion, among other attributes. The scholarship funds their work and gives them the opportunity to serve the community in unique ways.
Jessica Anderson (CHARISM)
As a vocal music education major, Jessica Anderson '18 was attracted to an internship at CHARISM because she knew it would provide her with invaluable teaching practice.
Founded in 1994, CHARISM (A Community of Homes And Resources In Service to Many) is a Fargo nonprofit dedicated to supporting at-risk individuals and families in the community. One of its programs is a weekly summer camp for elementary-aged children.
Anderson planned and scheduled activities for the camp, integrating lessons on values like respect, trust, creativity and collaboration. She also incorporated STEM materials into each day. In addition to planning lessons, Anderson also served as a mentor. In this role, she helped teach the various lessons and worked with about 40 children each week.
"Through this internship I've had confirmation that teaching is something that brings me joy and happiness," she says. "Having a hands-on experience is preparing me for teaching in a classroom that I hope to call my own someday."
Erica Floding (YWCA Cass Clay)
Erica Floding '17 planned to attend graduate school immediately following Concordia, but because of her internship at the YWCA Cass Clay she is considering postponing those plans to get more experience at a nonprofit.
“As a highly self-proclaimed feminist, I thought being in that position to assist other women and help get them to a good place would be a good way to give back and make meaningful connections,” she says.
Floding formed relationships with the women as she helped job coach – they worked on resumes, went through job applications and held mock interviews. She says her communication classes at Concordia helped prepare her for knowing how to be fluid in her communication style and how to communicate differently with each woman but still in a meaningful way.
"I'll sit down with them and work on a resume and it'll be half working on the resume and half just talking about their life," she says. "They're so funny and so kind and wonderful."
Moriah Gauer (CCRI)
Moriah Gauer '18 worked with CCRI (Creative Care for Reaching Independence). CCRI is committed to enriching the lives of people with disabilities. As a social work major and psychology minor, Gauer gained practical knowledge during her internship that will help her future goals.
"This experience is giving me the valuable skills, resources, knowledge and networking skills that will put me ahead in the social work career I am pursuing," she says.
At her internship, Gauer shadowed both an options residential coordinator and a case manager. The split time allowed Gauer to see two different sides of the organization. While with the options residential coordinator, Gauer got experience working in the office and observing the staff and clients. While shadowing the case manager, Gauer went into the F-M community to help oversee 64 clients and their housing.
Kyle Lippert (Boys and Girls Club of the RRV)
Kyle Lippert '17, a music education major, applied for the internship at the Boys & Girls Club of the Red River Valley because he likes hanging out with kids and playing sports. He drove the Play Outside Daily truck to Fargo-Moorhead parks in lower-income neighborhoods and the kids came to the playground on wheels to hang out. He enjoyed the time in the parks and taught kids activities to help them explore what they're good at.
Lippert says he learned to be really flexible and creative because when the kids got tired of activities, he had to think on the fly to come up with new games. The program had daily themes and was a mix of sports and instructions with fun games to keep kids active.
Lippert says it was a challenge to keep them interested, so he became more experienced in holding attention spans, behavior management and figuring out new ways to motivate kids. These skills will be helpful for any career in education because Lippert is learning that he enjoys working with kids in more ways than music.
"I thought for a while that I was really interested in music, but I’m learning more that music is just the way," he says. "Being with the kids is really significant to me. Building relationships with them has been more meaningful than expected."
Kate Westhoven (N.D. Autism Center)
Kate Westhoven '17 worked with clients at the North Dakota Autism Center (NDAC). The experience was invaluable for Westhoven, who is going into music education, one of the first areas of integration for those with autism spectrum disorder. She worked to incorporate music into a lesson plan at NDAC and says Concordia's education department puts a lot of emphasis on diverse classrooms and having new experiences.
"They always emphasize getting out of your comfort zone in the education classrooms and being able to go out, explore and BREW (Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World)," Westhoven says.
A key moment for her came during a game of hangman when one client made the answer a compliment to another client. With Westhoven's encouragement, the client began writing compliments for all of their classmates and teachers – enough to cover an entire wall. On that day, Westhoven felt so happy that she posted on Facebook: "It's a good day to be a teacher" with a photo of the client's compliment, "I like Kate."
Concordia's National Alumni Board recognized Solveig M. (Stenerson) Swendseid '50 for her distinguished service to others with the Alumni Achievement Award in 1992.
Ali Froslie '18 is an English major at Concordia.