Augsburg News

News Archives - 2003

Augsburg College and vocation

April 2003
Daniel S. Hanson, portrait pose.

Daniel S. Hanson '86. a Distinguished Alumnus and assistant professor in the Department of Speech/Communication and Theatre Arts, says Augsburg Weekend College, "shaped my life's work and gave it new meaning."

When I think about vocation and what it means for me, I think about Augsburg College. My experiences at Augsburg shaped my life's work and gave it new meaning.

I am a graduate of Augsburg's Weekend College program. I returned to complete my degree after a 15-year absence. Returning to college was not easy for me. I still recall long weekends cramming for an exam or struggling to complete an assignment. I often studied late at night so that I would have time to play with my children before they went to bed. More than once I wondered whether getting my degree was worth all the effort. But I also remember how good it made me feel when I did well on an exam or when I grasped a new concept or theory as if I was learning it for the first time. I remember, too, the special people who were part of my learning experience, both students and teachers, and how good it felt to be part of a learning community.

Because of my experiences at Augsburg, I fell in love with the adult learning experience. After graduation I applied and was accepted to graduate school at the University of Minnesota. My intent was that some day I would teach in a program like the one at Augsburg, which had impacted me in so many positive ways. Years later, when I learned of an opening to teach at Augsburg, the decision to apply was, as my son would say, a no-brainer.

I often say that Augsburg Weekend College changed my life. But what do I really mean by that? I suppose I could say that Weekend College helped me achieve success in my career. The evidence seems clear on the surface. After graduating from Augsburg, I became an officer of a Fortune 500 company, and eventually president of a major division. I finished my master's degree, had four books published, and was honored by Augsburg as a Distinguished Alumnus. But I don't think that these accomplishments by themselves capture the significance of what the Augsburg experience did for me. My experiences at Augsburg helped me believe in myself; if I applied my energy to a task or a cause, I could indeed make a difference. It also gave me a new vision for what I could be, perhaps a calling. I was given a taste of a learning environment that made me hungry for more.

In a way I never left Weekend College. As a teacher, I am blessed to be a part of the ongoing Augsburg Weekend College experience. And every time I watch a student exceed his or her own expectations I am reminded of how I felt, and I am renewed, once again, in my own sense of what work should be.