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.

Headshot of Greta Treiber

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Greta Treiber spent spring 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She discusses her connection with her host family and her tips for other students looking to participate in learning abroad. By honing her Spanish skills, Treiber hopes to further her intercultural competence as she pursues a master's in arts education.
Photo of student Ray Barney

An Activist in the Making

Ray Barney is a senior at the University of Minnesota double-majoring in gender, women & sexuality studies (GWSS) and Asian languages and literatures (ALL) with a minor in art. They are already doing work informed by feminist, Black, trans, and queer praxis. With the tools and opportunities they’ve gained during their time at the University of Minnesota, Barney hopes to be a part of the shared fight for shared liberation.
Photo of Juliana Hu Pegues

Alaska and Settler Feminism

Juliana Hu Pegues received the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for her research into the history of Asian immigrants and Alaska Natives. Her work seeks to understand the complex history of manifest destiny and inform the greater public about how settler colonialism shapes modern America.
Photo of Lisa Sass Zaragoza

CLS: Community and University

Community is embedded in Chicano and Latino Studies. Because of this, maintaining long-standing partnerships within the community is vital. CLS currently has two primary partner sites: schools El Colegio and Academia Cesar Chavez. These partnerships provide CLS with the opportunity to engage with and give back to the community.
Group photo of CASA SOL students

Living & Learning in CASA SOL

The first year of college is the hardest; you’re getting used to the culture, the workload, and you’re trying to make friends. Living Learning Communities help alleviate some of this challenge by creating a community within a community. CASA SOL is an LLC for first-year Latinx and Chicana/o/x students, and it provides them with the framework needed to be successful in college and beyond.
Photo of Gloria Goodwin Raheja

Music in the Mountains

Professor Gloria Goodwin Raheja has worked in archives across Appalachia and conducted oral history interviews to explore the ways American vernacular music registered transformations in the social and economic landscapes of coal mining communities in the 1920s and 1930s.
Photo of Chelsea Spencer

An Experience for Everyone

Chelsea Spencer is a senior majoring in German, Scandinavian, Dutch (with an emphasis in German) and global studies and minoring in biology. During her time abroad, Spencer maximized her time by traveling, volunteering, and living with a native German family. Spencer reflects that studying abroad can work for anyone, regardless of their schedule or budget, and adds that “it’s an experience unlike any other.”
Photo of Molly Tynjala

Finding Authenticity Abroad

Molly Tynjala recently graduated with a major in English and a minor in political science. Driven to learn more about her heritage, she began taking Finnish classes as a sophomore and discovered a deep appreciation for Finnish language and culture. The Finnish Connection Scholarship she received allowed her to explore the country firsthand. “The support of donors means the world to me,” she says. “It illustrates to me that other people still have hope for the future and have faith that young people will achieve remarkable things.”
Photo of Anna Keltner

A Changed Perspective

Anna Keltner is working toward a double-major in German, Scandinavian, Dutch (with an emphasis in Finnish) and strategic communications, with a minor in political science. She shares how learning abroad in Finland advanced her personal and professional plans and inspired new goals, adding that she “gained so much confidence, became a lot more independent, and got a much clearer picture of how [she wants her] life to go.”
Photo of Abby Bauer

Living Your Coursework

Abigail Bauer is pursuing a German, Scandinavian, Dutch major and a minor in Swedish. Reflecting on a previous trip to Europe, she explains that “learning abroad makes real the history you learn in the classroom” because it creates a personal, tangible connection. She adds that learning abroad aids in personal development by helping you gain “new confidence to explore other places and their cultures,” and looks forward to returning to Germany this summer.
Portrait of Aradhya Sood

Bit by Bit

Are frictions in the land market hindering the growth of India’s manufacturing sector? Graduate student Aradhya Sood’s research hopes to find the link between land and slow growth in large-scale manufacturing.
Portrait of Mark Bell

Nuclear Reaction

The United States, Great Britain, and South Africa have all utilized nuclear weapons in different ways. How are international politics affected by a country’s nuclear arsenal? Assistant Professor Mark Bell explores this question.

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