Wartburg challenged and changed me

NAME: Alisha Ungs 
HOMETOWN: Storm Lake 
MAJOR: Religion and journalism and communication

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS:  On-campus student worker, Knight Vision, KWAR radio host, SL&CM

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: Ah, this is the cheesy answer, but when I toured the campus, it really felt like a place I could call home. I felt an overwhelming sense that Wartburg was where I was called to be, in an unexplainable sort of way. I just … knew.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR MAJOR: I fought long and hard against being a religion major, because I was fighting God’s vocation for me. So, when I found another major I liked (journalism), I jumped at the chance to sign up. Eventually, I decided I couldn’t avoid God’s call forever, so I added religion as a second major. The professors in the department had been frequently suggesting it to me ever since I had arrived, and I finally gave in. It was probably one of the best decisions I could have made. 

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I will be attending Wartburg Seminary in the fall in pursuit of my Master of Divinity (MDiv).

Alisha Ungs

HOW DID WARTBURG PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR NEXT STEP: The religion department at Wartburg has had some of the most theologically vigorous classes I have ever seen. These classes made me question everything and forced me to think outside of the box. This kind of higher-level thought has prepared me more for the rigorous coursework I expect to see at Wartburg Seminary. 

DID YOU DO ANY INTERNSHIPS WHILE AT WARTBURG: I did two. One was at Lutheran Lakeside Camp as a blog and media manager. I took pictures throughout the summer and posted them to the camp blog. I also worked to come up with new and interesting blog posts and scheduled them about two months in advance. My second internship was as digital minister for my home church in Alta, Iowa. Over the summer, I helped them create a digital presence including a website that they have continued to use. They also started posting more frequently on their Facebook page and have gained followers through the methods I helped to enact. 

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: How can I only choose one?! I liked every single one of my religion classes. I think if I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be the course I am taking now: End of the World in Bible and Culture. Either that or Women in the Bible and Culture.

WHAT WAS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT CLASS: Definitely my capstones! As a double major, I had to do two. My junior year I completed my religion capstone, which involved writing a paper every single day and a whole lot of reading. For my journalism capstone, we created a documentary. This took a whole lot of time and effort, because we had to build the documentary and its branding from the ground up. It is a culmination of my skill sets that I learned in my journalism classes, so there were a lot of elements involved.

WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS ON CAMPUS: I have had so many mentors on campus, it is hard to count them all! Some of the most influential mentors include Ann Wrede, the supervisor at the Den; Pastor Brian Beckstrom, and Dr. Chip Bouzard. Ann was one of my first bosses on campus, and she has been incredible. Whenever I needed something, even if it was not work related, I felt I could go to her. I call her my “Den Mom” because she is such a supportive and loving person. Even though I no longer work in the Den, she still takes the time to check in on me.

Pastor Brian has been a mentor for me throughout my time here as well. Even when I was not good at opening up to people, he was able to see me for who I truly am and reach out to me when I felt alone. We have had a lot of great conversations about theology and life in general.

Lastly, Dr. Chip Bouzard. He was a very difficult professor. Whenever I had one of his classes, I was stretched beyond what I thought was even possible. He pushed me outside my comfort zone and showed me a different way of thinking about theology. However, he is still also very caring. He took the time to get to know me on an individual level, and I feel like he does that for all of his students. He is one of the most caring people I have ever met. His wisdom never ceases to amaze me, and I strive to have his level of confidence one day.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG MEMORY: Again, how can I choose only one?! But also, here is one that is definitely amongst my favorites. My second year, I had only recently become a part of the religion department. They were having their annual dinner, and although I was invited, I was unable to attend. I had to be at work, so I missed it all. It made me feel like I was missing out on something. I began to question if they even noticed I hadn’t been there. Then, all of a sudden, I saw Dr. (Chip) Bouzard rounding the corner with something in his hands. As he got closer, I realized it was a plate. He had made me an entire plate of food from the event and brought it to me at work. I felt so valued in that moment, and I could truly feel the sense of community that Wartburg talks about so often. I felt like I was really a part of the department, even if I wasn’t able to be there for the party. It made me feel special to know that a professor cared enough to make an extra trip back to campus just to help me feel included.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: It is easy to get overinvolved. Saying yes is simple, saying no is a little harder. But if you find just a few things that you love to do and feel passionate about, then your Wartburg experience will be  much more fulfilling than if you wear yourself thin by trying to do everything. Sleep is important, and taking care of yourself is important. It is okay to want to be involved, in fact it is great, but be aware of how you are taking time for yourself as well. Don’t overexert yourself for something you only somewhat care about. Find what you love to do and do that.

ANY OTHER REFLECTIONS ON YOUR TIME AT WARTBURG: It is strange to think about the fact that soon, I will be an alumna of Wartburg college, on to graduate school. The past four years have challenged me and changed me. I am definitely a different person now than when I first set foot on campus as a first-year. But that is a good thing. I have become so much more than I ever could have thought I could be. There were some really difficult times. After all, college is hard. And Wartburg is dedicated to challenging students as well as nurturing them. This means that my journey was not always sunshine and rainbows. There were plenty of sleepless nights. Sometimes things did not work out the way I wanted them to. I have made friends and lost some too. But I feel like Wartburg has also prepared me in a way that I could not otherwise have been prepared, because of the balance of challenges with nurturing. When things got really hard, there were professors and other staff who I could turn to for advice and solace. People who took the time to get to know me as an individual and help me to develop. I appreciate them more than words can describe. So, I plan to stay active at Wartburg. I am certain that although I am graduating, I will be back fairly often to visit this place I have called home for the last four years. But also, I am ready to move on. I know that the next step for me is to continue to seminary, and that is where I will call home next. I am so grateful for everyone who helped me become the person I am now.