PLU Roommates!

Living on campus is one of the best ways to get easily connected and start creating your own community. Check out this video produced by Residential Life! (Be sure to watch until the end, you won’t want to miss a minute of it.)




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


Spring Update


We’re approaching the last few weeks of spring semester – things are getting busy! Our tennis season just wrapped up, and I’m enjoying the chance to hang out with my teammates without being drenched in sweat. Do you like the spiffy outfits we wore at our last practice? That’s me in the yellow Power Rangers shirt and tutu.Image

In Tingelstad’s residence hall council, we are still cranking out fun events and program for residents to attend. Our all-hall retreat was this week. We rented out a theater to watch Jurassic Park in 3D, and the room was packed! It probably didn’t hurt that the theater seats were reclining sofas. On the schedule for the next month: a video game tournament and a Mariners game with Pflueger Hall!

I am also excited for Relay for Life later this month! At Relay, the PLU community walks, runs, or dances around the track to celebrate, support, and remember those impacted by cancer. My wing in Tingelstad had our own “team” last year and raised $250 for the American Cancer Society! Another one of my friends, who was a Resident Assistant (RA) in Foss Hall last year, raised the most money out of all the wings in Foss. She practiced for her upcoming marathon during Relay – and then got pied for her hard work!Image

Hope you are having a great Spring semester too!


Luke Gillespie

I am currently a sophomore enrolled at Pacific Lutheran University. I am from Naches, WA, which is on the East side of Washington. It is a town of about 800 residents, so coming to PLU and the Tacoma area was a huge change as far as population goes. I am an Environmental Studies major and a literature minor.

luke gillespie
Some could say that I chose PLU very early on in my high school career. My grandparents on my mother’s side were always “raving” about this Lutheran university in Tacoma, and they thought that it would be a good fit for me (my grandmother is a Lutheran pastor). I heard an admissions representative speak to my high school, and I agreed with them: this place could be worth checking out. The first time I ever went to PLU was during the fall of my senior year of high school, during Fall Preview Day. I immediately fell in love with the campus, the community, and everything I was learning about what this school offered. I was also looking at other universities in the Pacific Northwest, in both Oregon and Washington, but none of the others really stood up against PLU. In the end, I chose PLU for three reasons: the music program that offered huge opportunities to expand my musical repertoire and become a memorable music teacher (which was my goal when I first applied here), the study away program that places students on all continents of the world and allows for them to interact with different cultures to expand their global education, and finally the feeling that by attending PLU, I could find what I was truly passionate about-throw myself into that education-and walk away from the university with the intent to make a difference.

PLU is still helping to find the passion that lies inside of me.

The Environmental Studies program thus far has provided me with massive amounts of additional knowledge, a place within the PLU community, and a home away from home. Since declaring, I have been placed on the path the take Environmental Studies classes, and since taking those, I have only been pleased. I decided to choose Environmental Studies as a major because of one professor and one class that I took the 2nd semester of my first year. This class was Conservation of Natural Resources, taught by Prof. Claire Todd, and she completely changed my outlook on the earth, energy, the environment, water, and everything that occurs on the planet that many people may not know about. It was from taking this class with Claire and later having Claire become my advisor that motivated me to declare Environmental Studies as a major, and I have not been disappointed since.

In addition to the Environmental Studies program, I am also involved in the Literature program (as a minor), and possibly thinking about the Anthropology program as well (to make a double-minor). I am also now involved in the Study Away program, which is taking me to England and France in January of 2013, and hopefully Denmark sometime in the following year. I am in a PLU club called Progress, which raises money for children in the Tacoma area that lack health care, and we raise money to help them! I am also involved in Red Carpet Club, giving tours, hosting overnights, eating lunches with prospective students, and telling them my PLU story. Additionally, I am involved in LASR, or Lute Air Student Radio, which is our on-campus, student-run radio station.

Luke Gillespie

Luke Gillespie Luke 2

Hey Look at me exploring the bombtastic Tacoma Glass Museum!

A Note from Allison McClure


My name is Allison McClure, and I am currently a sophomore here at Pacific Lutheran University. I hail from Richardson, Texas (a ten minute drive away from Dallas) but I also lived all over Southeast Asia and in Italy for three-fourths of my life. I am a Business major with an Accounting concentration, and I also intend to minor in Global Studies with a focus on globalization and trade. I serve as the director of social justice on Residence Hall Council (RHC) in Tingelstad, a programming body for residence halls, and also play on the varsity tennis team.

Here’s some pictures of me and my tennis teammates! (We played some games in California and we got to go to Disneyland!)

Allison McClure    allison

Allison McClure II

You might have seen me in the Fall 2012 edition of U Magazine! That’s because in the little free time that I have, I love taking a break and going to play intramural volleyball with my friends in Olson Gym or on the beach court behind Pflueger Hall.

PLU’s emphasis on a global education, both on and off campus, is one of the reasons that inspired me to travel 3,000 miles away from home on yet another adventure. From the numerous study away opportunities to the perspectives that the diverse faculty present in the classroom, I love how you are immersed in so many differing ideas and cultures as you meet these people with differing backgrounds, life experiences, and heritages!

I also decided to attend PLU because of the care and dedication that the professors and faculty have for students. Applying to many large schools like University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan, I found myself feeling like a number in a class of 700. Coming for my visit to PLU for President’s Weekend in February, I sat in on a general chemistry class. This past fall, I had the same professor for my own chemistry class, and even in a class of over 100 students, he not only remembered my name but also asked me how tennis tryouts were going. Even though I am no longer a chemistry major, that same professor emailed me this past summer with a link to a recent experiment on petroleum alternatives that he thought I would find interesting. Professors here don’t simply engage students academically, but also take the extra step to meet and learn about their students as individuals.

I hope that you have a chance to come visit campus and see for yourself the wonderful community we have here at PLU!


Allison McClure

Hannah Voss

I am a senior biology major, psychology minor this year at Pacific Lutheran University. I am excited, confident and satisfied with my declared major, and minor; however, it was not always that way. While I did have an interest in the sciences coming into college, ultimately, I really had no idea what I wanted to major in, let alone do with the rest of my life.

Through my first year and a half of college I did not have a declared major, I really experienced the support of those around me at PLU in discovering the areas that I was truly passionate about. PLU has shown me just how valuable all of my passions were, no matter how many passions I had from biology, psychology, music, or my faith to name a few. PLU has helped me see the deeper importance in how when my passions make me come alive, the world around me comes alive too. Realizing this to a greater degree has been a really big part of my experience at PLU, and I am excited to see where that foundation will take me.

hannah voss

My growth in my first year or so at PLU through discovering the importance of all of my passions is just one example of what I have experienced at PLU. I have received so much positive support and encouragement in my time here, and that started before I even set foot on campus as a first year. One of the biggest reasons I chose PLU was because of the amazingly welcoming atmosphere I experienced as a prospective student. I felt that not only was I lucky to possibly be a part of PLU but that the people at the university were excited to have me. The community was uplifting, positive, and friendly. The academic programs were highly respected, rigorous, and exciting. The opportunities to get involved were endless. Through all of that, I felt I could begin to picture myself at PLU without actually be a student yet, and that was because of the welcoming and friendly atmosphere I experienced.

Once on PLU, the positivity I felt as a prospective student continued. Not only did I experience it as I began to choose my major and dive into the academics of the university, but also in the new people I met and in the opportunities I took to get involved. Besides beginning to take biology, psychology, and music classes I also started getting really involved in other campus activities, many of which I am still involved in today. I take voice lessons and am a member of University Chorale, a choral ensemble, both for academic credit. I am Vice President of PLU’s women’s a cappella group, HERmonic, and I also lead a women’s’ bible study through Ignite!, a college ministry on campus that I regularly attend. I work as a Red Carpet Club host giving tours, hosting lunches, and support at campus visit events. These academic opportunities and other experiences have given me the opportunity to grow and refine important skills. I have had opportunities that only come once in a life time such as the privilege to sing at Be the Spark in the Tacoma Dome that Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke at with HERmonic a cappella. I have met amazing friends, and am still continuing to meet new people. I am beyond blessed by my experiences at, and I am forever grateful to PLU for being the catalyst to these opportunities and sparking my passions.

Here's a picture of me pursuing my passions in Ireland!

Here’s a picture of me pursuing my passions in Ireland!

Alex Devine

Back upon the playgrounds of Yakima, Washington, I reveled in order and persuasion. The swings were occupied? I could surely arrange a trade with my peers. Mom and Dad say no puppy? A short, yet logical presentation will definitely convince them of my competence. In not so many words, I was born for the business world.

Alex Devine (middle, next to Thomas Krise) welcoming new students into Pflueger Hall.

Alex Devine (middle, next to Thomas Krise) welcoming new students into Pflueger Hall.

After years in high school and running start, my passion and skills for business and communications were honed enough to dive into a college search. Pacific Lutheran University was at the top of my list due to their nationally accredited School of Business, 300 Plus alumni network, and prestigious reputation both regionally and internationally. When I was accepted however, I found that the reasons why PLU is right for me go so much deeper than the statistics and numbers I had originally looked at. Arriving on campus, I lunged at opportunities for involvement and, as my sophomore year draws to a close, I find myself on the Leadership Board of Red Carpet Club, President of the American Marketing Association, and a PR associate for PLU’s MediaLab! These experiences and a change of heart left me doubtful of continuing in the business school. While it was wonderful, I felt my skills and passions lay a little further up the hill in the School of Arts and Communication. So, I changed my major to communication with an emphasis in PR and advertising with the help of my advisor and didn’t skip a beat. After a full semester in the “SOAC” I am confident that I’m where I belong.

alex and pals

Being so certain of my passions, my pathway through education has been easier than most. Even if I had no idea what I wanted to do however, the professors I have encountered would have ignited my curiosity and passion for my vocation! Perhaps the most helpful aspect of my program has been the real-life experience of all my instructors. They share their triumphs and failures with students, in addition to providing hands-on projects that put us immensely ahead of the game as far as competence goes. Not only that, professors and even the Dean are easily accessible and eager to share their knowledge with students. PLU has been the perfect fit for me because I can dabble in different subjects, becoming a well-rounded individual, and still feel supported in my career path.

If you are thinking about the School of Business or the School of Arts and Communication, I would share with you that upon making your choice to attend, you will be supported, challenged, and embraced from day one. Professors will ask you tough questions and hold you to a higher caliber than anything you may have experienced before. There will be projects that take forever, long lines at Coffee bar, and many late nights of hard work, but there will also be the sweet reward of success at the end of the road. You will proudly achieve whatever you set out to because you’ve had the support, experiences, and exposure to diversity held by the Lutes that have come before you.


Alex Devine

Stephanie’s Letter to a Potential Student

Dear Student,

I began my four years at PLU uncertain about what I wanted to do with my time here. I was interested in pre-veterinary medicine, and I had applied and been accepted into the International Honors program, but when I sat down with my advisor I felt uncertain about where I was going. I think that’s a feeling many students can relate to as they are entering college, and it’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal–advisors, friends, mentors, and counselors are there to help.

I signed up for some introductory classes, including my first IHON class and my first introductory biology course. My advisor told me that it’s very hard to get into veterinary school, but if I chose to stick to it he could point me toward the right classes. That first semester was a difficult adjustment as I managed my own schedule and slowly built a sense of community with my hallmates. However, by the end of the semester I found that I had learned a lot about what I was capable of, and I had a tight-knit group of friends that I could lean on. Although my biology course was by far my most difficult class it was undoubtedly my favorite, so when registration for the next semester rolled around I signed up for both chemistry and biology.

stephanie stromberg  stephanie stromber

Here’s a picture of me at the Keck Observatory during the transit of Venus this summer!

Since then I have taken many, many more biology and IHON classes. I have found that the discussion-based, internationally focused IHON classes balance well with my science courses, rounding out my college experience. I strongly suggest getting involved in clubs and organizations to diversify your experience–I have participated in PLU’s exceptional choirs every semester that I’ve been here and it has been an invaluable opportunity. Another great opportunity that I have had is to work as a student-researcher with a faculty member. This gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in a research position, and was a great opportunity to build relationships with my fellow student researchers and with faculty. It is my opinion that one of PLU’s greatest strengths is in the education of the whole, well-rounded individual.

My time at PLU has provided me with opportunities to hone my academic skills, to grow personally, and to share in the collective experience of a liberal arts education. I can’t guarantee that all your wildest dreams will come true if you attend PLU, but I can tell you that you will be challenged, and that this is a supportive, healthy environment in which to explore what you want to do and who you want to be. For me, that is the best thing I could have asked for.


Dylan-Econ and Political Science

dylan bakkaWhy I chose PLU:

Growing up in Texas my entire life, I saw college as a great opportunity to go to an entirely new place. I began by looking at schools in regions that I felt I would enjoy (the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, etc.) and when I came up to PLU to visit I immediately felt a wonderful sense of belonging both with the campus and the people on it. I had narrowed my decision down to University of Texas (a large state school) and PLU, and chose PLU largely for the small class sizes, access to professors, and sense of community. Almost immediately I was reassured that my decision was the correct one by how small my classes were (less than 20) and by how easy it was to talk to and learn from your professors. Within my first year I had been to coffee with a professor and had spent numerous hours in their offices talking to them. Now I am currently a research assistant for one of my professors, and it’s amazing to be able to have these kinds of opportunities, especially when I talk to my friends at UT who rarely see their professor to begin with. I also chose PLU due to the great study away programs available and plan on going to London next fall for a semester.

Why I chose Political Science:

                Political science was a rather easy choice for me, since I had been interested in it all throughout High School. I was able to take a political science class my first semester, and enjoyed the material and the faculty tremendously. It was exciting to learn all the divisions and concentrations within the field, and to be able to take a variety of classes in order to find my niche. I have taken classes in political theory, international relations, the politics of Africa, constitutional law, and more. I love the combination of philosophy, history, and social science within the discipline, as well as the emphasis on current events. Politics in many ways will always be engrained within society, so gaining the tools to analyze relationships within the political realm is very valuable to me.

Why I chose Economics:

                Once I had chosen my political science major, I was deciding whether to major in economics or communications for my other major, and was able to take a communications class my first year as well. My second year I took an economics class and became very interested in the material. I would often find myself wondering about the political side of topics we discussed in economics, and the economic side of topics we discussed in political science. I’ve since found that the blurred line between political science and economics is the most interesting area of study for me. Political infrastructure easily affects economic growth, and knowledge of economics is useful in analyzing many aspects of society and its structure.  Like the political science faculty, the economics faculty is equally dynamic and approachable.

For me, the hardest decision I will have to make is which subject to study in graduate school, because I am so interested in both of them—particularly where they intersect.


Amy’s Letter to a Prospective Student

My name is Amy Olsen, I am a senior at PLU this year (2012-2013) and will graduate in May. I am majoring in Biology with minors in Hispanic Studies and Religion. I want to become a high school biology teacher and teach in a highly Spanish speaking school district.  I grew up in Caldwell, Idaho but after 3 years at PLU, I consider Washington my home. I am involved with a range of clubs and activities on campus. I have been involved with the Biology Club on campus for 4 years being secretary of the club for two years. I am very involved with Campus Ministry and University Congregation or UCong and am the Vice President of UCong council this year.

amy olsen 2


I have danced since I was in 3rd grade and have loved being able to participate in so many dance related activates and productions on campus including various clubs and Dance Ensemble, a student lead production composed of all types of dance that takes place every Spring. I have also loved being involved with the community through volunteer and community service activities. My Junior year I volunteered at an elementary school with Spanish speaking children and this year I am teaching English to Spanish speaking adults in the area. Throughout the years I have worked for the Admissions Office as a PLU Tour Guide, with the Biology department as a Lab T.A for the introductory biology classes and as a Front Desk Worker in the Residence Halls.

new amy  Here I am in Oaxaca!

I choose PLU for a number of reasons.  When looking at prospective colleges and universities I knew small class size and campus size was what I wanted and needed. I loved interacting with my teachers in high school and knew I would want to be able to have that same interaction with my professors throughout college. I also loved how PLU offered a liberal arts education. I love learning and have a diverse range of interest and PLU has allowed me to be able to take many classes outside of my major and minors. When I visited campus I noticed a really tight knit community feel and that really drew me towards PLU. I have felt this community feel in every aspect of my life at PLU. I love the welcoming attitude that is present all over campus.

I could not be happier with my choice of PLU and if I had to do it all over again PLU would win every time. I have had so many amazing opportunities during my PLU education. Some of my favorites have been studying away in Oaxaca, Mexico for a semester and Budapest Hungary for the month of January, creating relationships with my professors, working at a Lutheran bible camp during the summers and being provided with the materials to transition from high school to college and now from college to graduate school. (I plan on attending a Masters Program next year and would love to have another year at PLU!!… that is how much I love it!) While I have been able to succeed in my classes, work on campus, be involved with clubs and organizations I have also loved making friends and having tons of fun! One other reason I love PLU is because there is always so much to do on campus, which I think goes hand in hand with the tight knit community we have here. I have loved going to dances in the Cave, homecoming and spring formal, participating in Relay for Life, listening to different speakers who have come to campus, going to sporting events of all types, residence hall and residence wing events and so much more. I really have felt like the opportunities at PLU are endless!