A Collective effort

Alumna and three-time Augustana student Marilyn Murray shares how she and her classmates are working to support students for years to come.

Sydney Tancowny - 25 May 2021

While Marilyn Murray (Skretting) first came to Camrose Lutheran College (CLC) as a student in 1966, she had already been familiar with the institution. Both her parents, Mildred (Solheim) and Trygve Skretting, worked on campus, as had her maternal grandparents, Mina Lyseng and Rev. Andrew Solheim (one of the campus’ first principals).

A third generation alum, Marilyn would also become a three-time student. First, graduating high school in 1969, then with her first two years of university in 1971 and finally with her degree in 1988.

After completing her first two years of university, Marilyn moved to Red Deer and shifted her focus in the way many do: on starting a family. Not long after, she decided to finish her university education, and she set her sights back on Augustana, which had recently started granting degrees.

During her first time at CLC, Marilyn was involved in many areas outside the classroom, from the women’s basketball team to choir to the singing group The Sound of Seven. However, when Marilyn returned to campus in the mid-80s she was not just attending as a student, but as a single mother. While she was able to be involved in student life activities the first time around, returning meant she had to work part-time and take care of her two children in addition to her studies.

“In order for me to finish my degree, I had to work part-time, and I also depended immensely on scholarships,” said Marilyn. “Those awards meant my children got to eat and I got to finish my degree.”

Despite the difference in her experience outside the classroom, her education remained a space where she felt she could learn from her professors and classmates collaboratively—exposing each other to different perspectives and ways of life.

“My education made me aware of different ways of looking at things, especially the older I got. As a student, you get to know about peoples’ ways of life that are different from your own, and you have international professors who have life perspectives outside Alberta. Then, it’s fascinating because you can put together all these diverse ways of living in the context of your interdisciplinary studies.”

Marilyn’s education—all three times—and how she learned from her peers is something that she looks back on fondly. In 2019, her first graduating group, the class of 1969, came together for Alumni Weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary since their time on campus. During the gathering, Marilyn and The Sound of Seven returned for a performance in addition to another band their classmates were a part of. It was also during this reunion that the idea of a class award came forward, and Marilyn stepped up as its champion. “I couldn't have continued being a student without awards. Most of us were able to have some sort of support when we were students,” said Marilyn.

The Class of 1969 Bursary has now received contributions from multiple classmates. However, with the goal of endowing the award to support students in perpetuity, Marilyn is continuing her work in reaching out to classmates to honour her first time on campus and those she learned alongside.

“I'm hoping this award will develop and grow enough that it can be helpful for other people who need monetary support to continue their education,” said Marilyn. “I think having an award that’s collectively funded helps us remember that education is a collaborative effort.”

A shorter version of this story originally appeared in our 2021 Report to the Community.