CLA Stories

CLAgency strives to enrich the value of a liberal arts education by serving as storytellers for CLA students, faculty, and alumni.

Our goal is to highlight how CLA is shattering expectations of what a liberal arts education can be—transforming CLA into a destination college. As strategic storytellers, we brainstorm with our departments to uncover exciting story ideas that align with CLA Dean John Coleman's Roadmap goals: readiness, research, engagement, and diversity. Each semester, our content creators build a content strategy, conduct interviews, and write at least three feature stories. Our stories are shared on department websites, through social media, and through e-newsletters to alumni and friends.

Headshot of Patricia Ahearne-Kroll

Ancient Identities in Today's World

How can studying ancient religions give us insight into how humans understand their identities today? By studying ancient texts written by Jewish people living outside of Jerusalem, Patricia Ahearne-Kroll’s research strives to challenge the way we think about reconstructed texts and the relevance of ancient studies today in terms of understanding identity.
Portrait of Doug and Jane Gorence.

The Gift that Gives to the Soul

Donors Doug and Jane Gorence often find themselves thinking about the future, asking questions such as “How can I continue to give?” and “How can we help prepare students to make lasting change in society?” Read on to find out why Doug and Jane Gorence choose to go above and beyond and donate to the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts.
Portrait of Hana Maruyama.

A PhD with a Purpose

"What happened during Japanese American incarceration is not coincidental at all--it's just how US settler colonialism has always and continues to function," says Hana Maruyama, whose grandmother and nearly 14,000 others of Japanese ancestry were displaced to Heart Mountain, the same place where the Apsáalooke American Indian Nation had been wrongfully relocated from years before. Maruyama is pursuing a PhD in American studies to further her research on the connections between Japanese American incarceration in the context of US settler colonialism.
Portrait of Susan Craddock

Teaming Up Against TB

Some of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases go unnoticed by pharmaceutical companies. One such neglected disease is tuberculosis, which claimed 1.7 million lives in 2016. Why is this widespread disease getting ignored, and how can collaborations help solve this problem? Professor Susan Craddock’s research looks into a new way of addressing neglected diseases.
Portrait of Champoux and Wisz

A Story of Collaboration

Two individuals met as instructor and student but became research partners after a course in the technical writing and communication (TWC) program. Alexander Champoux and Eric Wisz had the opportunity to collaborate on research about rhetorical theory and creative writing for the Creative Writing Studies Organization (CWSO) issue.
Portrait of Kari Campeau.

Classroom and Community Collide

“Intercultural communication skills are increasingly important as technical writing becomes more global, and intercultural communication skills are often handled reductively or insufficiently in technical communication textbooks and course design,” says UMN instructor Kari Campeau. That’s why she actively includes diverse communities in her classroom.
Portrait of Tia-Simone Gardner.

When Housing Isn’t for All: Working Toward More Inclusive Housing Strategies

Did you notice what looked like a “tiny house” on campus last year? It was actually a “mobile artist residency,” part of Tia-Simone Gardner’s research on the relationship between large cities and small housing spaces. The project aims to make small, mobile housing become a feasible option for people who need affordable or temporary housing.
Portrait of Nayelli Guerrero.

Nayelli Guerrero: Undeclared to Unstoppable

Choosing a major is hard. When you’re interested in a variety of subjects, picking just one can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. For Nayelli Guerrero, whose interests include medicine, writing, history, and law, it’s no wonder she started off her college career as an undecided major. Now a sophomore, she has become a top-notch student who actively participates in important work in the community.
Portrait of Katherine Beane.

Colonialism to Sovereignty: The Restoration of Bde Maka Ska

In 1829, Dakota leader Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) led a group of Dakota men on a hunt. The group became trapped in a blizzard for three days, buried under the snow. He later founded an agricultural community on the site, which he called Ḣeyate Otuŋwe, on the shores of a lake that Dakota people today call Bde Maka Ska. Nearly two centuries later, Cloud Man’s great-great grandchildren led the charge to reclaim the lake’s Dakota name, after having long been named after white secessionist John Caldwell Calhoun.” We don’t call it a change, we call it a restoration,” descendant Katherine Beane says when asked about the renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.
Portrait of Lily Obeda.

Choose Your Own Adventure

“Once you find your passion and the piece of you that clicks, everything else falls into place.” That’s the advice of 2018 graduate Lily Obeda, whose double major in GSD with a Scandinavian & Finnish emphasis and speech-language-hearing sciences has prepared her for an exciting career in academia.
Portrait of Lily Mahan.

French Immersion Taught Me to be Mindful

Recent graduate Lily Mahan talks about starting French immersion preschool at the age of three, what it was like to transition out of a full immersion program at the end of elementary school, and how knowing French affects her worldview. “I am who I am today because of my immersion experience,” she says. Lastly, graduating with a French major, Mahan talks about her future and how she hopes to live and work in France one day.
Portrait of Bella Dally-Steele.

Immersion Through Learning Abroad

Bella Dally-Steele strives to learn as many languages as she can to fuel a career in international journalism. Her first immersion experience was as an exchange student in France as a high school student, which she has followed up by learning abroad in Seoul, South Korea and Fez, Morocco, in college. She is pursuing a bachelor of individualized studies in French, Spanish, and mass communication.