Lauren L. Hansen

Higher Education Professional | Experienced Leadership Coach |People Connector

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Writing Samples

An ongoing series of my published pieces

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthaginian Magazine, Autumn 2014 (Audience: 25,000)

The Homecoming theme “Together!” perfectly described this year’s festivities. Friday evening, Carthage classes 1965-1968 gathered for a “Pioneer Reunion.” These classes were the first to graduate from the Carthage campus in Kenosha. One of my favorite groups of alumni that evening were women who had named themselves the “Carthagettes.” Tessie (Heubach ’66) Heath, Joyce (Tanck ’68) Herolt, Elaine (Rieck ’68) Lees, Nancy (Ridenour ’68) Ryan, Susan Salstrom ’67, Kristine (Rasmussen ’68) Thommessen, and Jean Ann Von Rohr ’68 gathered together and shared with us many memories. Elaine and her husband flew in from England to join the “Carthagettes.” Years ago, Jean Ann made each of the women “Carthagette” blankets and Kristine brought hers to show us. It was delightful to meet this group of friends.


On Saturday morning, over 100 alumni gathered for the Alumni Breakfast, honoring our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. One of the recipients, Kaylene Felton ’16, is the 17th member of her family to attend Carthage. Her sister, Rachael, is a freshman this year and is the 18th member of her family to attend! It is incredible to see the legacy continue.


On Saturday afternoon, our Alumni Council, “Future Alumni” children, and student organizations had a blast walking in the Homecoming Parade, followed by the football game. That evening, the fun continued at our All Decade Reunion where all class years gathered together. Later, our Class of 1964 and Gold Plus alumni (pre-1963) enjoyed reunion dinners together. I loved hearing about how spouses met each other and pranks that the classes pulled!

My absolute favorite story from the entire weekend was one told by Al Van Maren ’65. Al went to school with Henry Pevsner ’64. When Henry was looking into college, he met with Carthage President Alan Anderson ’50. Henry describes, “I sat in his office and after we talked, he took my transcripts and said, ‘Let’s just take a look here. As he looked at the grades he said ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh,’ then suddenly, ‘Look, here you got a B in this class. See...you certainly can do it! After encouraging Henry, Alan said, ‘Let’s start you with the light load of 12-13 hours and if you do okay you can make it up later.’ Henry definitely did okay – he did more than okay. Henry Pevsner is now Dr. Henry Pevsner, a very successful radiologist in Florida. Looking back, Dr. Pevsner says, “We had classmates who would not have succeeded at any other school, [if it weren’t for] the attention from teachers and coaches.” When Alan Anderson passed away in 2008, Dr. Pevsner had trees planted in Jerusalem in Alan’s name. 

“Together” truly described Homecoming 2014. Our Carthage family is incredible and I love when we’re all together! 

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthaginian Magazine, Summer 2014 (Audience: 25,000)

During Spring Family Weekend, our Alumni Council hosted the inaugural Beacon Award ceremony which honored six remarkable alumni: Dr. Gregory Bergner ’71, Dr. Juliana Blum-Newkirk ’98, Anthony D’Souza ’95, David Maack ’88, Timothy Rucks ’83 and Rebecca Steinbach ’85. It was a beautifully special evening.


Chairman of the Carthage Board of Trustees Jeff Hamar ’80 said in his remarks during the beginning of the evening, “President Harold Lentz began The Miracle of Carthage with these words, ‘Three basic ingredients have comprised the story of Carthage College: faith, courage and imagination. It required an abundance of all three in the late 1830's and early 1840's to believe that a small band of Lutherans in central Illinois could found a college and bring it to maturity.’ These three words continue to be the basic ingredients that make up our College and certainly tonight they are reflected in lives of the six alumni we are here to honor.”

Full of affection and laughter and joy, each recipient shared the role Carthage played in their journeys. To be in a room full of alumni and friends celebrating six of our “family members” was one of the highlights in my young life. A few of Gregory Bergner’s fraternity members who he hadn’t seen in 20 years drove in from St. Louis. Two of Tony D’Souza’s former professors, Associate Provost David Steege and Professor of Asian Studies and Religion Jim Lochtefeld, came to support him. During his speech, Tony, author of multi-award-winning novel Mule, joked about how he only earned a B+ in one of Professor Steege’s classes. The warmth between Tony and Dr. Steege was undeniable. In her award speech, Becky Steinbach summed up the sentiments in the room saying, “The windows and walls may have changed over the years, but Carthage still feels like home.” Throughout the evening, alumni recalled faculty members and friends who impacted their lives forever.

That night was one of those nights that reminded me how blessed I am to be a Carthage alumna and to meet alumni from across the nation. To see how our alumni were designed with specific gifts and dreams and to celebrate them in a room full of Carthage family was simply a treasure. We all are a part of a very special place.

Once Students, Forever Alumni: Analyzing Drivers of Alumni Loyalty

By Lauren Hansen

Master of Education Thesis, Spring 2015

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine the factors that contribute to overall perceptions and experiences of alumni who attended post-secondary institutions. The study was developed using a theoretical framework of commitment and social control. The researcher conducted a secondary analysis of a web-based survey that was administered to alumni of a small, private, liberal arts institution in January 2014. Of 8,882 recipients, which represented the entire population of alumni with an e-mail address on record, the survey resulted in 601 usable responses, a response rate of 6.88%. From the survey raw data, the researcher used correlational analysis and contingency tables with chi-square tests to determine the relationship between independent and dependent variables. 


The study found that career and life preparation, undergraduate and alumni experiences, alumni involvement with the college, communication methods with alumni, perception of prestige, willingness to promote the institution, and level of financial support all contributed to the overall opinion of the college. As the rankings of these independent variables increased by alumni, their opinion of the institution increased as well. Overall, these findings supported existing research and previous studies. For a copy of the complete thesis, please e-mail Lauren

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthaginian Magazine, Spring 2015 (Audience: 25,000)

In the past few months, our Carthage community has pulled together in the most beautiful ways. With the passing of Coach Tim Rucks, we were reminded how short and precious life truly is. As we learned about his sudden death, alumni and friends from across the nation shared their stories. Each of them were different, but all shared a common theme. Coach Rucks took time for people, even if it was seen as an “interruption.” He saw gifts in people, sometimes gifts they didn’t even see in themselves. He encouraged us to be “ACEs” – having attitude, character, and enthusiasm. He took time to tell people what they meant to him. He gave selflessly, generously and humbly. As we adjust to life without him, we are reminded that we ourselves have the power to make a difference in the lives of loved ones, colleagues, strangers and friends.


Last month, one of our colleagues lost her twenty-six year old son. At his funeral, with tears streaming down her face, she said to me, “Our Carthage family is incredible.” She was overwhelmed with the calls, support and love she received during one of the most painful times in her life. As I stood in the visitation line and watched members of our Carthage family hug and console her, I sat back in awe of the beauty of our community. 

When I write about Carthage, I generally write about the joys – life-changing professors, alumni stories, uplifting memories, students who make a difference. The past few months, however, I have been so touched by the way our community has come together during sorrow. Former football players have reached out to the Rucks family. A professor who lost his son a few years ago came to the visitation of our colleague who lost hers. Being in the presence of one another throughout all of this has brought great comfort. 

There is great beauty in community when we celebrate together – and we at Carthage have so much to celebrate. However, I would argue that there is even greater beauty when we come together during pain and grief. Leo Tolstoy said, “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” Carthage family, I am humbled and so very inspired by the way we love one another. 

Coach Rucks sent me an e-mail a few weeks before his passing. In it, he wrote: “Laugh, love, and cry every day and it’s a good day.” At the time, I did not understand why he wrote “cry,” but I understand now. The past couple months have brought lots of tears to our community, but those tears have knit us together more than ever before.

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

View my monthly columns from Carthage College's e-newsletter to alumni and friends (audience: 10,000+). 

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

April 2016 at Carthage simply blew me away. On April 7, we celebrated our first-ever Carthage Giving Day. An anonymous donor challenged our alumni and friends to give any amount, and if 847 people gave in a 24-hour period, this donor would donate $200,000 toward financial aid. To say we reached our goal is an understatement. Over 1,300 Carthaginians stepped up to the challenge and $307,834 was raised – in a single day. It was incredible to watch the excitement across campus, on the phones, and in social media platforms throughout the day.


The theme of this year’s Giving Day was “Red and Ready.” We gave Red and Ready T-shirts to several students and alumni leading up to the special day. A few weeks after the Giving Day, one of our graduates suddenly had to take her grandmother to the emergency room. “I actually threw my red and ready shirt on this morning when I ran out of the house to take her to the ER,” she said. “[My grandmother] commented on it when we were waiting for test results – asked what red and ready meant. I told her it meant that I was ready for whatever was ahead. She said, ‘I like that. I’m ready and ready, too, then!’”


I love this story and how it also beautifully sums up the hope of the Carthage Giving Day. The anonymous donor did not challenge us to raise money for the sake of raising money. The donor challenged us to make a tremendous difference in the lives of Carthage students, present and future. Through the outpouring of support, Carthage students can confidently share what they are red and ready for, knowing that their dreams can actually become a reality. And like our graduate’s grandmother, Carthage students will be equipped to face whatever will come their way.


I wish you could see the big smile on my face right now. You all make me so proud. I hope in reading this that you have a glimpse into the impact you made on April 7 – and the impact you continue to make year after year. When you give, you are literally changing lives. You are making things possible for students that would have never been possible. And when we all come together, like we did on April 7, thousands of lives are changed forever.


This past weekend, we celebrated our 2016 Beacon Awards, honoring alumni who bring light into their communities. Dieter, Michelle, Wayne, David, Patrick and Vivian are absolutely brilliant and generous and are changing the world. What struck me is that each of them said they did not get where they are alone. They credited their professors and family and friends with their success. When we come together, we empower people to change the world, just like these outstanding alumni have done.


Thank you, Carthage family. From the depths of my heart, thank you. April has been so very special and I look forward to our future with anticipation and excitement.


Joyfully yours,

Lauren


By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

At the 2016 Carthage Red Men/Lady Reds Golf Outing on June 27, I had the chance to connect with Karl Schmitt ’89. Karl was recruited to play football at Carthage after playing high school football in Tampa, Florida.

Somewhat on a whim and without ever seeing the campus, he moved to Wisconsin and arrived at Carthage as a freshman. The next four years would change his life. He met his now-wife, Sara (Anderson) Schmitt ’89, during his freshman year and they were later engaged at Kissing Rock. He was president of the Student Activities Board, vice president of Delta Omega Nu fraternity, and a resident assistant. He also ran track.


“The older I get, the more I realize how Carthage changed my life,” Karl said. “I was not planning on going to college and had not applied anywhere. To make a last-minute decision after a day at the beach with friends, to load a trunk and a suitcase with what I thought I’d need, to hop a plane to a place I had never seen, in hindsight, made no sense. I’m still not sure why my mom said yes or how she paid for it. It was clearly a God thing.”


Today, Karl owns his own healthcare system preparedness consulting company that aims to reduce human suffering and loss of life caused by disasters. He and his family are wonderful members of the Carthage community. They regularly attend alumni events, come back for Homecoming, and serve on reunion committees. Karl, three of his friends, and a fraternity brother played golf during the Red Men/Lady Reds Golf Outing, a fundraiser to support Carthage athletics. This fall, Karl and Sara’s son, Eric, will continue the Carthage family legacy as a member of the Class of 2020.


I wish you could have seen Karl’s face as he talked about what Carthage means to him and his family. Full of joy and gratitude, Karl shared names of people and experiences that have shaped who he is today. I love that his son will begin his own Carthage experience in just a few weeks.

Like Karl’s Carthage family, I am so thankful that we are a larger Carthage family. We celebrate and carry one another. Just as Lake Michigan shimmers in the sunshine, our community shines bright light into the world. Thank you for being a part of our family.


Joyfully yours,

Lauren

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

Have you ever met someone who is full of joy? People who are light when you are around them? A few days ago, one of our Class of 1960 graduates walked into our office. With her colorful shirt and bright smile, she explained that she had trouble hearing over the phone so she thought she’d come in person to register for one of our upcoming alumni events. Her time with us was only a few minutes, but she left a lasting impression on my heart.

At the Kenosha Kingfish event last month, I had the pleasure of meeting a graduate from the Class of 1962 who coincidentally sat behind me during the game. She was visiting her son, also a Carthage graduate, from Florida and just happened to be at the game the same night we had our Carthage event. She joyfully shared stories about her college roommates and her alumni life. She was strong, both in body and in spirit. I loved being around her.

In my work, I have enjoyed getting to know alumni across all generations, but my heart is especially tied to our older alumni. Their wisdom, grace, and perspective have blessed me significantly throughout the years. I also admire their love for one another. They have seen and endured many things. They have loved and they have lost. They are strong and beautiful. And boy, they are funny. Life sure does have a lot of humor in it after all. 

I hope you have the opportunity to meet one of our “more seasoned” Carthage alumni in the weeks and months to come. If you consider yourself one of our older alumni, thank you. Thank you for your stories, your wisdom, your love of Carthage, and for who you are.


Joyfully yours,

Lauren

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

A few years ago, I set a goal to see more of the world – to travel to one country each year until I’m unable to do so. Last summer, I journeyed to beautiful Italy. This summer, my travels took me to Spain. In 12 days, I visited Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada, and Costa Del Sol. What a gorgeous country. Every city is a unique treasure. The richness of history in Spain filled places in my heart I didn’t know existed.

On Sunday, the Carthage Class of 2020 arrived on campus. If I were to address them as a class, I would pass along some wisdom I gained from my experience in Spain:

  • In Barcelona, there is Font màgica de Montjuïc (“Magic Fountain”). On Friday and Saturday evenings, the fountain glimmers and glows with a variety of lights choreographed to songs. I hope that students look for the magic hidden in every day and every moment on campus.
  • In Granada, we hiked through a hilly neighborhood to reach Mirador de San Nicolas (St. Nicholas Lookout Point). The walk was steep and, at times, we didn’t know which way to go. When we made it to the top and turned the corner, we saw the most beautiful lookout point as the sun was setting. It reminded me that beauty comes from ashes and that sometimes the journey is challenging, but it is worth it.
  • Costa Del Sol was the last city on our trip. After a whirlwind 10 days, it was a blessing to rest in this sun-kissed land. I noticed the beauty in Costa Del Sol more than I did in the other cities because I rested enough to appreciate it. My last piece of advice for the Class of 2020 is to study and work hard, but also to breathe deeply and rest.

What advice would you give incoming students? Feel free to email me and I’ll pass along your wisdom!


Joyfully yours,

Lauren


P.S. Fun fact: In addition to our beloved College, Carthage was also a Phoenician city-state in North Africa founded in 814 BC. The Carthaginian Empire extended from North Africa into parts of the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea. Do you know what present day country is a part of the Iberian Peninsula? Spain. Even thousands of miles away from home, Carthage was still right under my feet. That surely makes me smile.

By Lauren Hansen

The Carthage Connection: A monthly e-newsletter for alumni and friends

This morning, I went to breakfast with two dear Carthage friends. During our time together, the two ladies shared how their children (now adults) sometimes like to come home. They didn’t mean just home to their old rooms and four walls, but home to a place of tradition, security, and family. A place of comfort, respite, familiarity, and peace in the midst of life’s storms. Homecoming at Carthage felt like that kind of home this year.


The Class of 1966 celebrated its 50th Reunion over Homecoming. Along with their names, their nametags included their senior class yearbook photos. Two graduates checked in at the same time, glanced over at each other’s photos, and squealed with delight. They were good friends in college, but hadn’t seen each other 50 years. Can you imagine what they had experienced in their lives over five decades? In that moment, though, they were brought right back to 50 years earlier on a college campus. To the place where they used to gather for meals, sit in classes, and go to dances with boys together. They said they were the best of friends, but time had gotten away and they hadn’t seen each other. Fifty years later, they were home.


I treasure seeing moments like this; sometimes they make me catch my breath. Homecoming Weekend was one of these times. We have incredible alumni. Not only are they solving world problems, changing children’s lives, and running large companies, but they have beautiful hearts, stories, memories, and friendships. On weekends like Homecoming, our stories become intertwined in the most marvelous of ways.


Thank you to all who came to Homecoming this year. If you couldn’t make it, please know our door is always open and that home is always waiting for you here.


Joyfully yours,

Lauren

By Lauren Hansen
The Carthaginian Magazine, Winter 2017 (Audience: 25,000)

It was a hot, sweltering day in Mexico. My mom and I played leap-frog avoiding cars across several busy streets and boarded a slightly air-conditioned van bus. Feeling adventurous, we left our tourist-filled Iberostar hotel to be immersed in the local scene. As minutes passed, we anxiously translated street signs and calculated pesos. We had officially left our comfortable, sheltered nest.

We wandered down small streets, our eyes glued to the straw-made roofs and clotheslined laundry. In that town, we enjoyed massages (okay, so yes, we were still tourists) at this little shop and afterward, we spoke our best Spanish to the business owner. What we hadn’t realized is that our massage therapists were both blind. The owner let us know that she only hires employees who have disabilities. Estoy buscando contratar a alguien que no puede caminar como mi recepcionista. “I am looking to hire someone who cannot walk as my receptionist,” she told us. This woman’s heart was so beautiful and her mind so creatively thoughtful. Deeply humbled and thankful, we left that shop differently than we had arrived.

This month, many of our students will embark on J-term trips around the world. Although their experiences are not likely full of luxury resorts, they will be given the opportunity to meet incredibly beautiful people. They will also be faced with challenges – figuring out ways to communicate effectively, to understand and respect another culture’s way of life, to potentially witness poverty and injustice firsthand and to live a little less comfortably than normal. 

I am so thankful to our alumni, faculty and friends who support these study abroad trips. Between 15-25 faculty-led study tours are offered every year, most offered in January and June. Recently, alumni and friends have begun financially supporting students who could not otherwise afford to participate in J-term trips, making these life changing experiences possible. 

One of my favorite weeks of the year is when students return and share their J-term stories. It is also a favorite of mine hearing from alumni about their J-term experiences years later. “On the Argentina J-Term trip, I learned many things about the culture but also about myself,” said Sara Niedzwiecki ’10. “Putting yourself into a situation that isn't exactly comfortable (i.e. language barriers, complete independence and reliance on self) helps you to see yourself in a different way; a more confident, independent person ready for the real-world! Also, the lack of reliance on technology in a foreign country really honed in on developing communication skills across cultures and with classmates.” 

“On our trip to Krakow, Poland, we listened to the story of a man who had survived the holocaust and specifically had been a prisoner at Auschwitz camp, one of the deadliest concentration camps,” said Sarah Vanags ’14. “His strength and faith throughout were something that stuck to me. My grandmother was a refugee at the same time in Latvia and Germany and I couldn’t fathom how incredibly difficult it was to be a young person and have to make the decisions and sacrifices they made.”

Kirsten Petersen ’10 shared that her J-term trip to Nicaragua “changed my life and made me want to go into the non-profit field and give back. I learned a lot about myself on that trip, but also about the culture and how generous the people were there. They were so poor but would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. It opened my eyes to see how truly blessed we are living in the United States and how much we take for granted.”

Other alumni recalled discovering a 2,000 year old inscription during an excavation in Omrit, listening to people in all languages share their love in Rome, exploring the streets of Paris without knowing French, and leaving the United States for the first time. 

In just a few weeks, our students return from their trips. It is my hope they come back enamored by the beauty of another culture, matured by challenges in communication, and maybe they’ll even stumble into a shop and meet someone who makes them think differently. Thank you to all who make it possible for them to travel the world.