“Augustana is more than a university,” says Karen Wedel. “It’s a lifestyle, and it has been permanently engrained into my DNA.”
As a teacher who has landed her dream job teaching high school English and drama in Grande Cache, Alberta, Karen finds that the skills she learned at Augustana come into play in her work every day.
With her high school drama students, for example, she uses warm-up exercises she learned in Kevin Sutley’s drama classes. She refers to notes from her Shakespeare course and her creative writing class when she plans her English classes. She often brings environmental issues into her teaching, which has its basis in the environmental studies courses she took at Augustana. Karen remembers, “Kiersten Hatt modeled a passion for teaching that still inspires me.” She adds, “In fact, all of my Augustana professors inspired me by the way they cared about their subject areas. Following their example makes me a better teacher.”
But Karen’s memories of Augustana extend beyond the classrooms. She explains, “I fell in love with the campus and student life.” She served as vice-president of the Students’ Association for three years, and she says that experience shaped her into the person she is today. “I established myself as a hard-working, confident professional through my work in communications and sitting on various committees.”
Karen initially thought the transition from Augustana’s community-oriented campus to the U of A’s Edmonton campus, where she undertook her education degree, might be difficult. However, she quickly adjusted. “I discovered a community in Edmonton made up of Augustana grads who were on the same career path as me. It was almost as though I was able to take a little piece of ‘home’ with me.”
In addition to teaching, Karen directs high school drama productions and coaches the girls’ basketball team. “Seeing my students grow and mature into kind, considerate, hardworking individuals is the most rewarding part of my job,” she says.
Karen recently became engaged to Keith Walstra, whom she met while working on her education degree. “I hope one day our children will choose to go to Augustana and have the same amazing experiences I had,” she says. “The relationships I made there and the things I learned will be with me forever.”