Luther College students awarded Karen Julesberg Scholarships

Four Luther College students have each received a $1,000 Karen Julesberg Scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year. The recipients are Jocelyn Demiglio, Kalista Farmer, Ana Garcia de Leon and Shelby Pisney.

The Karen Julesberg Scholarship benefits first-generation and income-eligible Luther College students involved in the TRIO Achievement Program. TRIO provides customized support and comprehensive programming that fosters students’ academic success, personal development and community engagement. The federally-funded program has been sponsored by Luther for nearly 50 years and serves approximately 165 students annually.

Karen Julesberg ’90 of Madison, Wisconsin, has sponsored the scholarship since 2012. “When I was considering the many worthwhile opportunities that support Luther students and programs, it took me some time to select one that not only fit my interests but also touched my heart,” said Julesberg. “Once I learned about TRIO with its variety of activities designed to support income-eligible and first-generation students, my choice was easy.”

Jocelyn Demiglio ’24, a sophomore from Zion, Illinois, is double-majoring in global health and chemistry. She serves as president of the Luther College Performing Arts Center Committee, participates in Chemistry Club and is a member of the national service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Demiglio also plays flute and piccolo with the Luther Symphonic Band and performs with the Luther Ringers. She works on campus in the Chemistry Department and off campus at Nisse Preschool in Decorah. Demiglio is participating in an internship this summer in Uganda and she plans to attend grad school for chemistry or public health after graduating.

Kalista Farmer ’23, a junior from Surry, Maine, is an English major with a secondary education minor. She is on the leadership team for the Luther Student Education Association and is a resident assistant. Farmer also sings with Collegiate Choir and has performed with the Luther College Theatre in various roles. She works as a library aide at the Decorah Public Library and at Nisse Preschool in Decorah. After graduating from Luther, Farmer plans to pursue a teaching career, hopefully in middle school English and possibly internationally.

Ana Garcia de Leon ’23, a junior from Santa Maria, California, majors in psychology with minors in management and music. She is a member of the Luther College Psychology Club and plays French horn with the Symphonic Band. In addition to her role as an outreach assistant with the Luther College Counseling Service, Garcia de Leon is certified in mental health first aid and as a sexual assault/crisis intervention counselor for Riverview Center in Decorah. After graduating, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.

Shelby Pisney ’24, a sophomore from Lime Springs, Iowa, is working towards an elementary education degree with endorsements in reading and special education. Pisney plays guard for Luther College Women’s Basketball and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta. She recently received the American Rivers Conference All-Academic Team award for winter sports. Shelby works as a teacher’s aide at Carrie Lee Elementary in Decorah. After graduating, she intends to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Iowa.

For questions about the TRIO Achievement Program or to learn more visit or email [email protected].


About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning, and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully, and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

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Villisca Axe Murder Presentation

Join local author and historian Dr. Ed Epperly on June 2 from 6-7 p.m. at Decorah Public Library for an engaging presentation from his book “Fiend Incarnate: The Villisca Axe Murders of 1912.” Dr. Epperly will guide program attendees through the crime, the history of the investigation, and the various theories about the murderer’s identity.  

Epperly, a retired Luther professor, is considered the foremost expert on Iowa’s most famous unsolved murder. Over the past 60 years, he has conducted eyewitness interviews and done exhaustive research into the historical records connected to the crime.  

In addition to his book, Dr. Epperly has written dozens of true crime articles, scholarly papers and blog posts, and has appeared on dozens of television and radio programs, podcasts, symposiums and at film festivals. 

Attendees who would like to have a signed copy of the book should purchase one in advance at their local bookstore. 

For more information, please contact Zach Row-Heyveld at Decorah Public Library – [email protected] or by calling 563.382.3717. 

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Saving Us Book Discussion

Join facilitator Jim Martin-Schramm, chair of the Decorah Sustainability Commission, for a discussion of Katharine Hayhoe’s book “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” at 6 p.m. on June 7 and 14 at Pulpit Rock Brewery. Books are currently available for checkout at Decorah Public Library, thanks to the generous support of the Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities.

“Saving Us” is focused less on doomsday facts and figures and more on how everyone can play a role in shaping attitudes towards climate change through our conversations with skeptical friends and family members. Hayhoe argues for collective action through shared values instead of relying solely on facts about our changing climate.

Author Katherine Hayhoe is an internationally renowned climate scientist and expert communicator on climate change who has been named a UN Champion of the Earth and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.

For more information, please contact Zach Row-Heyveld at Decorah Public Library – [email protected] or by calling 563.382.3717

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Luther College Nordic Choir to perform Homecoming concert as part of its 75th Anniversary Tour

The Luther College Nordic Choir, one of the premier collegiate choral ensembles in the United States, will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, at Decorah Lutheran Church.

Hallie Johnson, Lily Smith, and Abs Trewin from Decorah will be among the performers.

The concert is part of Nordic Choir’s 75th Anniversary Tour. The group was founded by Sigvart Steen and memorably conducted for 57 years by Weston Noble ‘43. Previous conductors also include Craig Arnold and Allen Hightower. Since 2017 the choir has been under the direction of Andrew Last, associate professor of music and director of choral activities.

“After a year with no opportunity to tour, Nordic Choir is excited to share music with audiences around the Midwest,” said Last. “As we celebrate the 75-year history of this ensemble, the concert program promises to include something for those who wish to celebrate the past and for those who look forward to the future!”

Audience members can look forward to hearing classical pieces including “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson and “Lost in the Night” arranged by F. Melius Christiansen as well as new music including “The Gift to Sing” by Gregory Berg, commissioned by the Luther College Class of 1970, and “I Won’t Forget” by Zachary L. Moore.

“I Won’t Forget” was commissioned by the Studt Family of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in memory of Rachel Studt ‘89 who recently passed away from rare, young onset dementia. Her husband, Larry, wrote the lyrics, and their daughter, Laurel ‘22, sings in Nordic Choir and will perform the piece among her peers.

“I would say it’s a very reflective piece,” said Laurel. “It’s a lot about dealing with trials and tribulations of an illness which a lot of people had to go through during the pandemic. Our situation wasn’t specifically related to COVID, but it’s a very emotional piece, just reflecting on the difficulty of the pandemic, not being able to see the people we love and being in that kind of isolation. But it does end up in wrapping up with just being grateful for all of the memories that we’ve been able to make over these past years and the time we get with our loved ones.”

The world premiere of “I Won’t Forget” was at the ACDA Midwest convention in Chicago in February.

Tickets are not required and there is no charge for admission but a a freewill donation will be collected.

This Homecoming concert is the final event of Nordic Choir’s regional tour which includes stops in Eau Claire and Janesville, Wisconsin; Iowa City and Clive, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; La Grange, Illinois; and St. Michael and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Last, a 1997 alumnus of Luther College, earned a master’s degree in choral conducting from Northern Arizona University and a doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln School of Music.

Nordic Choir is Luther’s principal touring choir in a choral program that comprises three upper-class mixed touring choirs and two first-year choirs. Nordic Choir honors the Lutheran choral tradition while exploring new and innovative choral works that span styles and genres.  Performances have been described as “thrilling,” “breathtaking” and “rock-solid in intonation and rhythmic clarity.”

The choir tours annually, performing in churches of all denominations, schools and concert halls, including Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Internationally, the ensemble has toured in Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Russia and Eastern Europe. 

About Luther College Music

Luther is home to one of the largest undergraduate music programs in the nation, with five choirs, three orchestras, two bands and two jazz bands. One-third of all Luther students participate in music, including large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. Nearly 175 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance. Learn more at

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Job Opening: RSVP Volunteer Coordinator

The City of Decorah, IA (pop. 7,615) is accepting applications for the part-time (16 hr/week) position of Northeast Iowa Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Volunteer Coordinator. Ideal candidate will be someone with a collaborative mindset who is passionate about community involvement and volunteer service.

Minimum qualifications include a high school diploma or equivalent. Preference will be given to candidates with previous experience working with nonprofit agencies, volunteers, and older adults. Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher, and data entry skills required. Social media experience and ability to maintain a simple website preferred (no coding necessary).

Position subject to post-offer physical examination including drug testing, background check and motor vehicle records check.

For more information and a complete job description see links below or call 563-382-3717.

Send application, resume, cover letter and a minimum of three professional, work-related references to:

Kristin Torresdal, Director, Decorah Public Library
202 Winnebago St.
Decorah IA 52101 


[email protected].

RSVP Vol Coordinator Ad

RSVP Vol Coordinator Job Description 2022

Employment Application

*Important note regarding submitting a PDF version of your application – Download and save the Application PDF to your computer. Use Adobe or a similar PDF reader to fill out the downloaded application and save it to your computer. Attach the completed application to your email along with your resume and references. Using Chrome or other web browsers to fill out the PDF may result in a blank PDF being submitted.


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Ride for Ukraine raises nearly $7,000 for Ukrainian organizations

The Ride for Ukraine fundraiser, organized by Luther College students, was a major success. On Saturday, May 7, a group of students and professors from Luther, along with local community members, completed a 75-mile bike ride from Rochester, Minnesota to Decorah, Iowa, to advocate for peace in Ukraine.

            “As I had never organized something like that before, and the event had been postponed, I was unsure of how it would go,” said Anita Tamang, student organizer. “After seeing the whole team arrive, I felt relieved and knew it was going to be a great day. I am grateful to the entire team who invested so much time and effort into it, including some of my friends who pushed themselves and completed 40-70 miles despite not being regular cyclists. Others made a super-early trip from Decorah to Rochester to support the cause. The whole team gave their best effort, and I am so proud of them. It is difficult for me to adequately express how grateful I am to each of them for their dedication and contribution to this cause and most importantly, for believing in us.”

Tamang organized the event with the help of Souk Sengsaisouk and their faculty advisor, Maryna Nading, who is from Ukraine. To date, close to $7,000 has been raised which will go directly to the oncology clinic in Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, where Nading’s mother works. Funds will also be given to address current gaps in care for people impacted by war, including the internally displaced.

As the day wrapped up and riders made it back to Decorah, Nading was at the Luther Bell to welcome them back.

“I felt both joy and gratitude as I watched the riders arrive at Luther Bell one by one or in small groups. Truly, they have given me something I can never repay–a deeply meaningful gesture of support and the ability to send much-needed funds to the volunteers in my hometown who are best positioned to provide immediate support to people impacted by war,” said Nading. “On the ground, there are many gaps in care, and being able to close some of these gaps with the help of everyone who participated in this ride is an essential work towards peace. I am grateful that I can serve as a bridge, and hope to welcome people to Ukraine someday when the war ends!”

The GoFundMe page will remain active for several weeks.

About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

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Luther College announces 2022-23 Fulbright scholars

Luther College senior Annika Dome and alumnus Soren Gloege have been selected as Fulbright English Teaching Assistants to Germany for the 2022-23 academic year. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected based upon leadership potential, academic achievement and record of service.

            Annika Dome ’22, from La Crosse, Wisconsin, will graduate from Luther College in May with majors in German, English, and Nordic studies. Her interest in Germany was kindled when she began learning German in seventh grade. A participant in the 2020 Münster semester (which was cut short due to the pandemic), Dome is “really looking forward to living in Germany again, meeting new people, and becoming a member of a German community.” After her Fulbright, Dome plans to return to the Midwest to use the skill sets she has gained at Luther and through her Fulbright experience.

Soren Gloege ’21, from Apple Valley, Minnesota, graduated from Luther College with majors in German and political science. He chose to pursue a Fulbright because it is “an excellent opportunity for organic political and cultural exchange, which is the key to long-lasting, healthy political relationships.” Gloege also participated in the 2020 Münster Semester and found his imagination captured by the country. After his Fulbright in Germany, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in comparative politics.

The Fulbright Program

            The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns.

            The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

            For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit


About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

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City of Decorah Tree Board Commemorates Arbor Day with Tree Plantings

Decorah, IA (May 5, 2022) – The City of Decorah Tree Board planted 29 trees last Thursday and Friday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. Black Hills Energy and Trees Forever have partnered to offer a tree planting program known as “Power of Trees”. Through this partnership, the Tree Board was awarded a grant, which funded the planting. On May 14th, 35 more trees will be planted as part of this grant.

The Decorah Tree Board has been planting trees to replace ash trees that were removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation. Since 2019, the Tree Board has planted over 100 trees in boulevards/Right-of-Ways (ROW) throughout the City of Decorah. When choosing trees to replant, tree diversity was one of the most important considerations. Diversity among tree species is important to help avoid widespread tree loss due to infectious diseases or a pest infestation. The more diverse the urban tree canopy is, the healthier it is. When homeowners plant a tree, maple and crabapple trees should be avoided. Both are overpopulated in Decorah. The Acer (maple) genus makes up about 50 percent of the City’s urban tree canopy just in the boulevards/ROWs (not counting those on private property).

City Forester Sam Hogenson strongly encourages tree diversity, “Before EAB, our urban tree canopy consisted of about 15 percent of trees from the Fraxinus (ash) genus. Now, only treated ash trees will survive in the boulevard/ROW. The effects of losing so many ash trees has had a significant impact on our community. The removed trees would have offered benefits such as cleaner air, stormwater retention, and lower cooling costs, just to name a few. Since their removal, homes, parks, streets, parking lots, etc., are no longer receiving the benefits once offered by those trees. That was only 15 percent of the urban tree canopy, now imagine if a pest or disease attacked our maple trees and 50 percent of the trees remaining in the boulevards/ROWs were suddenly gone. The effects of losing so many trees would be drastic.”

So, when you decide to plant a tree in the boulevard/ROW or on private property, please consider the trees around you. Chances are, there are several maple or crabapple trees nearby. Choose something less common to plant and help ensure that our urban tree canopy is healthy and here for future generations to enjoy!

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Luther College students and faculty featured in Star Wars Insider magazine

At Luther College, learning happens everywhere, and sometimes in unconventional ways. In Andy Hageman’s classroom, learning includes a journey into a galaxy far, far away that brings international and domestic students closer together.

Hageman, associate professor of English at Luther College, teaches a science fiction film course that allows students to explore specific areas of film and cultivate visual media knowledge. During the course, students analyze and compare two Star Wars films: “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977) and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016). 

“The combination of different exposures to Star Wars makes it a vibrant topic for discussion and it introduces some surprising perspectives,” said Hageman. “In particular, international students connect the films to their own experiences of journeying far, far from home and navigating new cultures, relationships and values. Often they see Star Wars as a socially-shared story with immense power to connect and communicate.”

These observations were recently featured in the article titled “Great Expectations” in Star Wars Insider.

One student, for whom English was her second language, noted the multilingual abilities of various characters, while another student, Tam Ta, from Vietnam, found the lack of language barriers between characters to be especially significant.

“It was really exciting to be able to offer my feelings and interpretations of Star Wars,” said Ta. “I never thought deeply about my experience coming to the U.S. as it relates to the movies so it was nice to unfold my own thoughts, assumptions and expectations.”

The personal experiences of international students sparked further conversation and connections between students. Many shared the common experience of engaging with popular media such as Star Wars as a way to prepare for American life. Chi Pham, also from Vietnam, said “as a person of color, and an international student, it has always been my interest to understand U.S. culture and how films such as Star Wars sparked discussion about culture and political movements. I felt honored and grateful to have my voice included in this project.”

Others made historical connections and observed unique sociological dynamics. In the article, Warsan Yusuf ’20 from Somalia also noted the significance of the relationships between droids and humans, prompting discussion surrounding the history of slavery and racism.

These observations and more can be found in the March 15 issue of Star Wars Insider, the official Star Wars magazine.

“When international students share expectations and experiences like this with American students, Star Wars helps build bridges,” said Hageman. “Ultimately, this suggests that Star Wars is not a story about conflict but about drawing people together.”

About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

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