“Proud I am able to call myself a Lute”- Andrew’s Story

T-Staff Color RunI chose to attend Pacific Lutheran University, because it fit my academic interests, is thought of highly by employers, and was close to home.

I grew up in Bonney Lake, WA and did not even start seriously thinking about what college was best for me until my Junior year of high school. I had many friends that went to Western Washington University so I visited frequently and loved the environment. I narrowed my college choice down to University of Washington, Western Washington University, or Pacific Lutheran University. What made me finally choose PLU was the proximity to my family, it’s globally focused education, and the tight knit community that is so evident on campus. I desired to study either Global Studies or International Relations, and I am so pleased with the Global Studies program that is here at PLU. It has allowed me to find new passions that I would not otherwise know that I possessed through the studying of Economics, Anthropology, Religion, Political Science, and History courses. After considering psychology, environmental studies, political science, and anthropology as a second major, I finally decided to pursue Religion as my other major. This decision is one that I am so happy I made. The insight to historical and modern day events that are occurring that religion has allowed me to realize is vital to understanding the complexity of issues around the world. I am also minoring in Greek which is something I never even thought of as an option before attending PLU. It is such a rich language to study, and it is fascinating to discover how many of English grammar and words are derived from Ancient Greek.

Currently in my four classes, three of them are taught by a professor who wrote a book that we are studying in the class, and my fourth professor personally knows most of the authors we are studying and has worked extensively in two of the countries we have examined through case studies. Their expertise is so evident and it is amazing to work so closely with such accomplished scholars.

Since coming to PLU, I have discovered that a passion of mine has always been teaching, and I had just not reflected on how much I thrive off of a classroom environment before coming here. My new goal is to pursue a Masters of Education here at PLU after graduating in 2015 with my degree in Global Studies and Religion.Spring Soiree

The deep and sincere friendships I have made here at Pacific Lutheran University are one of the things I hold the dearest. Everywhere one goes, they are bound to meet some unbelievably inspiring and truly amazing students, faculty and staff here at PLU. Since day one at PLU, it has been overwhelmingly obvious that some truly amazing things are happening here, and I met some of my closest friends that I know I will stay in contact with post-graduation, my first weekend at this institution. The more people I have met, come to know, and collaborated with, the more proud I am to be able to call myself a Lute.

“I know I’m not a number,” – Martha’s story

Hello prospective Lutes! My name is Martha Spieker, and I am a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Hispanic Studies here at PLU. Over the past year and a half, I have come to love my family here, and I know that I am excited to find such a supportive group of inspired people. Before I continue, I think there is one thing that I should be clear about upfront: PLU was not my first choice school. In fact, it is the closest school to my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington that I applied to. I came to PLU primarily because of their great financial aid package.

Yet the more that I am here, the more I realize how amazing of a place this school is. Yes, it is academic. Yes, it does follow the liberal arts model. But the combination of these and other factors has been the best part of my experience. Last year, as a first year, I already felt I had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had at nearly any other institution.  I took an American Government course from a great professor, Imagewho also helped me travel on her J-Term trip to Washington, D.C. I got to tour the White House, go to the Inauguration, and meet with various influential think tanks. This helped focus my interests in politics in a way that little else could have. Back in spring semester, I had a P.E. class with seven students, where the professor would join in the games. My other classes only had twenty students and I felt connected to professors who really want me to succeed—no matter how many times I visited their office hours to correct an essay. Professors have suggested internships, encouraged concentrations, and guide my study away plans (I’ll be in Granada, Spain this spring!). Here, I know I’m not a number, but a real person (and seriously, people are SO nice. If you aren’t saying hi to at least four people when you cross campus, you’re asleep). I’ve been on the Outdoor Recreation Spring Break trip to Utah and Arizona, interviewed a couple who graduated in 1953, mentored a student at local Keithely Middle School, and hiked Mount Rainier. What fantastic experiences I’ve had, both inside and outside the classroom!

As I continue in my education, I am certain that guidance and access to activities will only continue to help me find my passions. The possibilities are endless—it only requires an ambitious Lute who can see the unbelievable opportunities that PLU has to offer and takes advantage of them.


“I could see myself at PLU”- Jp Avila, Department of Art & Design Chair

ImageAs chair of the Department of Art & Design, I often meet with prospective students that are interested in the visual arts. A typical visit goes something like this: we sit, we chat, we tour, they ask questions, I answer questions. It’s what you would expect from any campus visit. But the real experience of visiting PLU comes when the prospective student gets to meet with the students that are already here. I’ve found that what sells interested high schoolers on PLU is not always just the academics or financial aid package, it’s that they can envision themselves here, hanging out with our students. 

That same experience played a large part in my choosing to teach at PLU. Before teaching at PLU, I had been living in Chicago and, while I loved the big city life, it was the sense of adventure and the idea that I could see myself at PLU that brought me here. I could envision myself in the classroom teaching, in my office consulting, around campus with colleagues, attending events and supporting my students. It’s all about fit. And, for me, PLU fits. 

I received my bachelor’s degree from a school similar to PLU and I have fond memories of that experience and how it help to mold my sense of purpose, my goals and aspirations for myself, and my sense of duty and honor. I saw in PLU an opportunity to help other people find those traits in them. It is what brought me here; actually seeing it happen on the faces of students is what keeps me here.Image

Several of my colleagues have told me how they love that “ah-ha” moment when students grasp a complex theory; when they achieve a better understanding of a text, or when they come back, years after graduating, and thank them for pushing them to their full potential. 

 It’s those types of stories that are the glue to PLU. Making connections. Finding the right fit. Trying, failing, then trying again. It’s that sweet success that I enjoy and what keeps me coming back for more.

“The Overwhelming Sense of Community”-Isabellah’s Story

Isabellah 2As an Oregon native with much family in the greater Seattle area, I always knew I wanted to attend college in the Pacific Northwest. Preferably somewhere that wasn’t too close to home but not somewhere so far away that going home would be an inconvenience. During Spring Break of my junior year, I set out on my search for the school that was most suited to my needs. What I didn’t realize is that I would soon come to find that PLU is so much more than a school that simply “meets my needs”. Rather, it has become my second home.

I visited several school s in the Tacoma/Seattle area and was impressed by the beautiful facilities and surrounding area in almost all of them. However, PLU had distinctive features that set itself apart from the rest. In my opinion, what really distinguished PLU from the others was the big, open, grassy campus and the overwhelming sense of community I felt while on my visit.

Isabellah 1

Becoming a Lute was definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life. PLU has proven to be everything I wanted and more! Since coming here, I’ve met some of the greatest people, found a major that I’m truly passionate about, and have learned SO much about myself and the world that surrounds me.  I can’t imagine being anywhere else.


Josh on Psychology, research, and life-changing professors

Josh and his theatre crew!

I chose PLU because of it’s academically focused, hardworking, and welcoming community.  My time spent at PLU thus far has been a true life

A faculty member that has especially impacted my life while at PLU is Professor Katie Crowell of the Psychology Department.  Dr. Crowell is a new professor here at PLU and is currently teaching my Personality Theories Class.  Even though she has only been my professor for a short while, she has impacted my life in so many ways.  On the first week of classes she had approached me after class and started talking to me and asking what my specific interests were in Psychology.  I had told her that I was interested in identity development, body image issues, and LGBTQ issues.  She then set up an appointment so we could sit down and further talk about my interests.  By the end of our 1 1/2 hour talk she had asked me to become her research assistant on one project and was going to help me with a project of my own research.  She has not only influenced me to learn and expand my interests within Psychology but she has also shown to be an amazing friend.  She has been able to help me out with the stresses I go through on a daily basis, help steer me to the right direction for my career, and has come to support and cheer me on at my improv shows and other theatre productions.changing experience. Each professor I have had wanted to learned who I was and has pushed my critical thinking to the max potential.  The professors I have had here have inspired me to learn and to go out explore my options, inside and outside of PLU.

I have met people here that have truly influenced and changed my life, as well as the person I am to this day.
Josh in KHP

Mamie Howard on being an out-of-state student, LuteNation and PLU

Lute Nation 1My name is Mamie J. Howard.

I am from the sunny city of San Diego, California. Uprooting myself from the only hometown I have ever known and moving to a place I hadn’t even visited until it was time for my first classes to begin was very difficult for me to do. However, I do not regret my decision on bit. I always hear people say “you only live once” so I decided to do something spontaneous with my life and move to a different state to pursue my Bachelor’s. What I like most about PLU is that in my experience as an out of state student, the university did a wonderful job welcoming me to campus and checking in to make sure that I was doing o.k. making the change. I decided to major in Sociology with a double minor in Communications and Political Science as an aspiring attorney because my options for a major to pursue law school were truly limitless. One day I would like to become a District Attorney and maybe someday even a judge, but I am really interested in the youth and helping the youth find a better path of life.

On campus I am heavily involved in the Diversity center and with Lute Nation. These two places have made me feel like PLU was a place for me to call home and keep me excited to return year after year. In the Diversity Center I am a Rieke Scholar which allows me to delve into social justice while also gaining the knowledge and tools on how to begin to change the world around me. I am also the President and Founder of the Lute Nation brand. Before I came to PLU as well as during my first-year, the University had a Step Club which was really exciting and quickly became my niche as a person new to the art for of step/stomp. Though at the end of my first-year I was given the title of Captain as the team and I really wanted to take the team to a new level. Lute Nation entails more than just stepping but rather a team that has become an inspiration to the youth in surrounding schools. When I cam to PLU, I decided I wanted to be someone that made a difference in people’s lives rather than just someone that watches the change happen and being a leader in Lute Nation has allowed me to do so. Our adviser, Melannie Cunningham (the admission counselor also responsible for my enrollment at PLU) and I make a wonderful team thinking of new ways to create change in the community and marketing Lute Nation members as Scholars before Steppers. It is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a group that both has fun and does great things while doing so.

One of the biggest reasons I chose PLU was because of the scholarship I was offered because during these hard financial times, college isn’t as affordable as one would like to think (though my mother was adamant about sending me wherever I wanted to attend school). However, I also thought it would be great to get out of San Diego, meet new people, and start fresh. I really wanted a change of scenery and a change in weather. Lastly, Melannie did a wonderful job selling PLU to me by telling me what a prestigious degree I could earn if I dedicated four years to this school. If I had to choose all over again, I would never admit that I’d chose PLU (ha) however the experiences I have gained from attending PLU have began to define me as a person and shape my adult beliefs and I wouldn’t trade this transformation for anything because I know that I have made and will continue to make my family proud!



Sam Angel – Why PLU?

My name is Sam Angel and I am a sophomore at PLU.  PLU is a long way from my hometown of Missoula Montana.  I plan to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences.  I am also the captain of the men’s tennis team.  In high school I would have never pictured where I am today and the road to my place at PLU has been a wonderful experience.

As a senior in high school, my college choice was mainly between schools in the northwest conference, the University of Montana and Montana State University.  Each option had its pros and cons so I was still on the fence until late in my college search.  PLU was the last school I visited and I immediately knew I wanted to attend.  My tour guide was very easy to relate to and knowledgeable about PLU.  He has recently become my friend, close neighbor and coworker.  The experience with my guide set the tone for the rest of my visit.  The tennis coaches met one on one with me personally and could not be nicer people.  Every person I came in contact with at PLU was enthusiastic, kind and ready to answer any questions I had.  Later during my visit I stayed with my high school friend and his roommate who, conveniently, played on the tennis team.  After a night of learning more about PLU, hanging out with the tennis team, and way too much Mariokart, I knew PLU was the school for me.


Since I began at PLU, I have had so many memorable experiences.  My very first month of my first year, I dislocated my shoulder while playing in a monsoon on Foss field.  During my time here I have attended two Mariners games, gone to the glass museum in Tacoma twice, visited Point Defiance Zoo, hiked on Mt. Rainier upwards of ten times, gone to California for our Spring Break tennis trip twice and attended the Bumbershoot music festival.  These are just some of the many experiences around campus that I got to enjoy.  The PLU campus itself is just as great.  My friends I have made will be with me for life and the people at PLU make campus a great place to get an education.  Another reason I love campus is because of the faculty at PLU.  The professors are approachable and personal.  I feel comfortable going to my geosciences professors for anything and they make campus even better.

I am lucky to call PLU not only my place of education, but also my home.  I couldn’t ask for a better college experience and would choose PLU again every time.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your college search!

Sam Angel




After graduation, I am moving to Chicago to become a 9th grade algebra teacher. The challenges of the last four years will not have exactly prepared me for what I am getting myself into, but they have prepared me for how to ask for help when needed, what to do when times get tough, and reminded me that there will always be people around to support me. My coach, professors, family, friends, coworkers and countless other people have celebrated my success, helped me through my failures, and continually made me a better person.Just 10 days away from graduation, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how I got here. My PLU experience has been one of a lot of variety. From athletics to admission, tutoring to volunteer teaching, classes to community, I have been involved in many aspects of the University. On May 26th, I will be the Student Commencement Speaker. My speech is about the PLU slogan of Challenge – Support – Success. There were countless challenges along the way to arrive to where I am today, but it is because of those challenges that I have grown, been successful, and developed a strong support system.

My time here at PLU has taught me many things. I know how to make friends. I know how to live on my own (for the most part). I know what academic rigor means. I know how to write mathematical proofs, analyze religious texts, study for finals, and get everything done that needs to be done. I know how to win a National Championship. But more importantly than all of that I know who I am, where I am going, and that any challenge that comes in my way is just another  pportunity to succeed.

As you venture of your own college experience, I know there will be challenges. For each of us they are different. But with those challenges comes a lot of fun, a lot of personal growth, and relationships that will stand the test of time. I am so thankful that I came to PLU and had these last four years. I would not be where I am today without each of those moments…just days away from graduation, like many of you!

:)Kaaren Hatlen


Craig Chamberlain… Why PLU?

Hey everybody! My name is Craig Chamberlain and I am a senior here at Pacific Lutheran. I am graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. A few years passed by before I decided to declare math as my major. Believe it or not, I changed my intended about 5 different times and am still graduating in four years.

All of my life I have been around PLU. Ever since my brother  and sister, Brent and Brie, went here, I have been hanging out in the residence halls, throwing the Frisbee, or experiencing various PLU adventures. I was so sure when I was younger that I would never come to PLU because my siblings went here and I wanted to start my own legacy. However, that quickly changed when I took a tour of PLU’s campus and felt like I was home. From then on out I knew I had to come here!

601209_444301585638120_1976027814_nAs of the last two years I have been involved in PLU Reign, the ultimate Frisbee team at PLU. We have travelled anywhere from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to play in nationally competitive tournaments! Also, we have been playing in our regional tournament to go to nationals the last two years, but have fallen just short each time. I currently work for the Office of Admission giving tours and hosting lunches (hint: come visit!)  as well as volunteering in the elementary schools around this area.

Ever since my first day moving into Tingelstad Hall, I have felt as if this is my home. I have gained life long friends and most importantly, received an education that is second to none. If I had to do it all over again there is no choice – PLU would be my 1st pick!


Good luck with your college searches!