CLA Stories

At Backpack, we’re strategic storytellers for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The college is a hub for intellectual and creative innovation, and we tell stories that spark curiosity, connection, and inspiration. Our objective is to transform CLA into a destination college by telling stories about the students, faculty, and alumni.

Photo of Laura Wertheim Joseph and Kristin Makholm

Reconstructing a Museum

After being closed for ten years, Executive Director Kristin Makholm and Curator Laura Wertheim Joseph are leading the Minnesota Museum of American Art into the next decade. “It's really about bringing new voices, telling new stories, bringing out hidden narratives that maybe have been neglected or passed over in the past,” Makholm says.
Carolyn Sakstrup poses for a portrait

Not Ready to Stop Learning

Studying another language cultivates new, unique ways of thinking. Carolyn Sakstrup (BA ‘99, Spanish, minors in Latin American studies and Studio Art) is a senior vice president in marketing at Target. Her path all began with language studies and a desire to continue learning.
Aren Aizura poses outdoors for a portrait

Aren Aizura on Mobile Subjects: Transnational Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment

“Claiming trans recognition or rights is not enough as long as we don’t look at how transgender identity is made possible through racial and imperial logics,” says Aren Aizura. His new book examines the racial dynamics and economic issues related to gender and gender reassignment. “I argue that trans culture and politics need to take account of its own whiteness and reliance on capitalist circuits.”
Portrait of Ross Etherton

An Unexpected Love

In high school, Ross Etherton had no college aspirations and thought of German as an ugly language. Now, as a professor of German, he incorporates what he learned as a first-generation college student and a graduate student mentor into how he teaches and relates to his students. Reflecting on being a mentor, he says, “some of my biggest joys were watching students move from something that they didn’t like to something they ended up falling in love with.”

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