2020 Convocation Spotlight: Emily Peterson, David Salmon and Karen Wagner

We have so many amazing graduates to celebrate this Friday at the University of Alberta's first-ever Virtual Convocation! Here are just a few of those students, along with some thoughts on their time spent at Augustana.

Tia Lalani - 08 June 2020

Emily Peterson

Emily Peterson

Head-chair of Annual Student-Run Art Show | Campus Visits Ambassador | President of the Indigenous Club | Indigenous Peer Mentor | Research Assistant | Augustana Leadership Award

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
Throughout my time at Augustana, I have grown to appreciate all of my professors and advisors, so this question proves difficult to answer. Due to my major being in the arts, I hold a vast amount of gratitude for those who both aided and inspired me along my journey in becoming an emerging artist, an apprentice curator and a life-long student of art history. As a Métis student, I also received great support in engaging with the Indigenous community on campus, as well as personal support in any and all matters. Over the various extra-curricular and academic activities I have participated in throughout my four years, I have also found each and every faculty member to be a mentor in their own right, and have always left every experience either with a great lesson or a laugh. Therefore, I feel it is impossible to name just one individual. Having said that, if you read this, you know who you are.

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
Once again, this question is very difficult for me as I found many if not all of my classes to be very fulfilling. Although some were very challenging, at the end of the day I enjoyed my time there and am glad to have the knowledge and experience I gained from taking them. As an artist though, I am somewhat impartial to all the studio art courses I have taken throughout the years, and the experience of working in the art studio all day cannot be beat.

What's your best memory from Augustana?
I think my best memory from Augustana off the top of my head is the Annual Student-Run Art Show. Being the head-chair for two years in a row, I made it my mission to make this the best I could when I first took it over, completely revamping every aspect of it to run smoother and efficiently. I am incredibly proud of how it turned out and standing there on the first rendition of the catered reception, surrounded by cheering friends and faculty, is one moment I will always remember with joy.

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
There are two pieces of advice that I think really helped better my experience at Augustana. The first one is to talk to your professors. Many students do not take advantage of the support being provided by professors, and I found it to be very valuable over my four years, giving me opportunities that I would not have had if I hadn't developed a rapport with my professors. After graduating, I also now have connections that I can use within my field, which is a very valuable asset. Secondly, and I know this one is hard to take to heart, but you really need to follow your passion! Having started as a biology major and switching to the arts in my second year, I fully understand the pros and cons of this decision, and I can honestly say that it has changed every aspect of my life for the better.

What's next for you?
For future plans, I am working on a research project supervised by Dr. Erin Sutherland and funded by the URI Stipend, titled "The Impact of Indigenous Curatorial Methods on Indigenous Performance Art". It is a seven-month-long project which I will begin by producing an annotated bibliography and literature review through remotely meeting with Indigenous curators and analyzing past and current literature surrounding Indigenous curatorial methodology. Further in, I will work with the artist Adrian Stimson to curate a performance, most likely online due to the pandemic, using Indigenous curatorial methods. Following all of this, I will work towards publishing a paper with Dr. Erin Sutherland on this experience and the impact of Indigenous curatorial methods on Indigenous performance art. Although I did have plans to start an art collective after graduation, its actual fruition has been somewhat hindered by the pandemic. Even though current events have caused a greater strain on creative output, I think that they have also allowed for increased reflection on the impact COVID-19 has had on artist's lives and their futures. In acknowledging this inspiration, I think if I am able to go through with the formation of an art collective in the near future, we will most definitely be creating work surrounding this topic of how COVID-19 has impacted our individual lives and social connections.

Just before publication, we received news that Emily was recently the victim of a house fire. Luckily, Emily and her family are safe. Unfortunately, the entirety of Emily's portfolio and most of her art supplies were lost in the fire. Augustana student Rebecca Edge has started a GoFundMe campaign to help Emily replace her supplies and start the task of rebuilding her portfolio. If you'd like to help, visit the campaign page here.


David Salmon

David Salmon posing with his tuba

Augustana Choir | Campus Visits Ambassador | Augustana Fine Arts Award (Choral and Keyboard) | Onesimus Award

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
Dr. Ardelle Ries. Without her, I simply would not have made the decision to attend university as a music student. Also, it has been with her guidance that I have made the decision to continue my studies and become a music teacher.

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
Any class taught by Dr. Alex Carpenter. Classes with Dr. Carpenter are always an…experience. He possesses a unique ability to explain any theoretical or philosophical concept, no matter how difficult, in a way that makes perfect sense and inspires conversation and debate within the class.

What's your best memory from Augustana?
My performances with the Augustana Choir. The Augustana Choir has been a staple of my university career these last four years. The sense of community and family that is cultured in the choir, through the making of music, is unlike any other on campus. In terms of highlights, what stands out for me is the choir's trip to Cuba in January 2019. It was a joy to be able to share musical cultures with people and to experience another culture that is so different from our own. Getting to spend part of the winter in Cuba was also a plus!

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
Get Involved! You'll make friends among your peers and professors.

What's next for you?
A bachelor's degree in education at North Campus.


Karen Wagner

Karen Wagner posing in a field

Photo courtesy of Aia Davis.

Research Assistant | Vikings Volleyball

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
Ian Wilson, who is the best community member, professor, mentor, employer and friend. I had never taken one of his classes but because we both were consistently saying "hi" and visiting in the forum, it led to a research position researching place-based education. Daniel Sims, Joe Wiebe, and Ian, who worked together on this research project, taught me so much about how to conduct research as well as sent me to Chilliwack, BC to work with the Stolo Nation and for a research trip of a lifetime.

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
Spirit of the Land was the most amazing class…it changed the course of my degree. And it made me fall in love with learning. I was introduced to place-based education, permaculture, the harms of corporate globalization, Indigenous populations and their struggles and triumphs, many community members, and the rest of the experiential learning courses offered at Augustana (including AUIND 240 (hide tanning), AUIND 370 (oral histories), AUREL 263 (spirituality and globalization) and more) through Spirit of the Land. Although I love the kinesiology program, diving into different disciplines, especially Indigenous studies, art history and religion were academic highlights for me. These courses were so important because they introduced me to more than a priori knowledge, instead, they taught me how to become a responsible local and global citizen. These courses also allowed me to make many connections with inspiring community members who work tirelessly and passionately for their communities.

What's your best memory from Augustana?
There are too many to count, but it was an amazing experience to play collegiate sports. Our team collectively brought the women's volleyball team from second last place in 2016 to first place in the North Division in 2020. Spending 30+ hours a week with so many talented, driven women, being in a captain role on a team with the best team culture I've ever experienced and putting in hours of training and weightlifting facilitated countless lessons and memories. Finally, getting some wins after losing every single game but two in my first year was also extremely validating and FUN.

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
Believe in yourself, make connections with your profs and peers and take courses that interest you in other disciplines. LEAN IN to the Augustana experience, there is a community here for everyone, find yours!

What's next for you?
All of these highlights ended with the chaos of COVID-19, a bachelor of arts degree majoring in kinesiology, minoring in Indigenous studies/Canadian history and the most amazing community filled with lifelong friends. My brother and I planned to commemorate my graduation with a cycling trip to PEI from our hometown of Provost, AB (over 4000 km) tenting the entire way. I had all kinds of different ideas about how to document and make the most of the trip, including a blog and pottery from each province, but because of the pandemic, we are hoping to complete the trip in 2021. Instead, we have planned some weekend bike routes going South to North of Alberta while making no stops (lots of oats). Ultimately, I hope to become an occupational therapist and work with Indigenous populations in rural, prairie settings using place-based therapy.


For more information on this year's Convocation celebrations, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/augustana/services/academic/convocation.