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The Success of Our Students

The success of any program is not measured by its number of graduates but by the ways they find to apply the knowledge that from it they acquired. Several of the University Honors Program’s classes have now graduated and are putting their knowledge to good use. Follow their stories here as we look at where they are now.

Elizabeth Zimmermann

I graduated from Concordia in May of 2010 with a degree in Effecting Social Change. I then received my Master of Art in Human Development and Family Studies degree in May of 2012 from Iowa State University, where my research focused on modern day orphanages. The summer following graduation, I started working with Family Service Rochester, a non-profit organization that works to cover the needs of families.  I work with the Family Group Decision Making Team.  My job is to coordinate and facilitate meetings for families that are working with social services.  My work is very challenging, yet rewarding.  The experience and learning that I gained from the Honors Program continues to benefit me today.  I especially value and utilize the different ways of knowing, systematic causes of poverty, and discussions regarding how faith can guide us in an ever-changing and challenging world (all of which were emphasized in the Honors Program).


Rachel Salchert

I graduated from Concordia in 2010 with a duel degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education.  Right after graduation I moved to Jersey City, New Jersey where I taught for the last three years.  I worked with children between the ages of six weeks and twelve years old.  In August of 2013 my husband and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where I teach third grade at Lamb of God Lutheran School.  This summer I started an online Master of Art program in Early Childhood Education through Concordia.  My time in the Honors Program showed me that every person has a story and that it is my job to take the time to listen and learn from their stories.


Nikolai Gibbons

I graduated from the Beta Class of the Honors Program in 2011, and am currently attending Concordia Seminary for a Master of Divinity degree.  For me the Honors Program provided more than a typical college experience would usually offer.  A great education is more than facts and information; it is the ability to take all those things and realize the difference you can make in the world.  The program gave me a greater ability to imagine how I can thoughtfully lead and compassionately serve wherever I go in life.  As I look forward to becoming a Pastor, I can definitely say the Honors Program has shaped me in numerous ways to serve our world through the Gospel of Christ.


Erin Rudolph

My name is Erin Rudolph, and I was a part of the Gamma Class of Concordia’s Honors Program. Currently, I am serving as the 5th grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Clinton Township, Michigan. I teach most of the 5th grade core subjects (math, literature, science, etc.) along with 6th grade language arts & literature. I am also involved in the church hand bell choir and contemporary praise team.

I loved being a part of the Honors Program. Intellectually, it helped prepare me to see how faith and learning are not at odds with one another, but are really joined together. That is the struggle of the Lutheran school teacher: how to make connections between the faith we hold so dear, and the human knowledge that we so desperately crave. C.S. Lewis wrote, "Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence...He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head." It's the relationship between faith and learning, which is so central to the Honors Program, that has really made the most impact on my calling.


Heather Huckstadt

These days I am keeping busy! I am working several jobs, and I love them all. I am working at my local community center as a receptionist in the mornings, and one evening a week I lead a junior high group to prepare students for the transition to high school. I have also spent a lot of time interpreting through this organization, mostly for medical appointments, but also some more unusual ones on occasion (I helped the FBI and the DEA once). I also have been working with immigrants in our community college's English as a Second Language program.  My newest job, which I just picked up, is as a part-time Spanish teacher at my former elementary school. The immigration focus and service project portion of the Honors Program prepared me for these jobs in a very obvious way, but the interdisciplinary aspect of the Honors Program helped me see the "big picture" in whatever I do.  Making connections between my jobs really helps me to understand and better serve the immigrant community, which I believe is my calling.


Sarah Koscielniak

I have been working full-time at an organic, locally sourced, family owned Nepali-Indian-Tibetan restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis (Gorkha Palace).  I am the head server and manager at the restaurant and take on both responsibilities with the coworkers and customers.  I find that the skills I learned in the Honors Program help me think on my feet and find creative solutions when new situations arise. The Honors Program has helped me see many connections amidst seemingly unconnected topics.  It has also helped me see many connections between my job and bigger issues.  For instance, I am learning all about the importance of fresh and organic ingredients in a balanced diet. I also see each person that walks in the door not just as a customer, but as a very important person who can see God's love through my actions and love towards even complete strangers.  Through the help of the Honors Program, which reminded me to see the spiritual in the seemingly secular, I have been able to transform a simple restaurant into a community of friends who deeply care about one another. I have also been able to travel to different places around the world during times off of work, and those travels have opened my eyes to different things I had previously only read about in books.  This gives me a more and more balanced view of how the world is connected together.  I continue to strive towards a career that works in the intercultural field and helping people.


Anna Shaw

After graduating in May 2013, I am striving to utilize all of my learning and experiences to serve my Savior. I am currently teaching first grade at Trinity First Lutheran School, an inner city school in Minneapolis, MN. The school is located in the most diverse neighborhood in the United States, and my students come from a wide range of backgrounds, including Native American, Hmong, African American, African (Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia), and Caucasian. I look forward to living out the motto of Concordia’s Honors Program as I integrate faith and learning in my classroom, sharing the love of Jesus that is so much greater than we can ever imagine!


Caralyn Tignanelli

My name is Caralyn Tignanelli and I graduated in 2012 from the Delta Class of the Honors Program.  I have spent the last six months continuing my education by training to be a reading specialist that works with children and adults who are struggling with dyslexia.  Next month I will be opening my own practice for dyslexia correction in my home town of Rochester, Michigan.  Being a part of the Honors Program has had a profound effect on the direction my life has taken because it gave me the unique opportunity to deeply explore the idea of what it means to be called to a vocation and how to apply the gifts that I have been given in order to find my true calling and passion in life.


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