Helping others find their fit

Michael Tyler Johnsrud

NAME: Michael Tyler Johnsrud


HOMETOWN: Orono, Minn.  

MAJOR: Biology

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Ambassadors, Ritterchor, intramural volleyball, Scholars Program, studied abroad in New Zealand (May 2016) and Peru (May 2017), Suicide Awareness for Everyone (SAFE)

WHY WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg College mainly for the people. When I visited the school, I was a junior in high school and didn’t know exactly what I was wanting to get out of a school. I came back a second time and met with Dr. (Ed) Westen, the anatomy and physiology professor. He helped me answer some of the questions I didn’t know that I had about the college search. That night I stayed overnight and found that all of the people on campus care about how you turn out. My overnight hosts all knew my name right away, they remembered what I was interested in, and really cared about how my college search was going. Once I had narrowed my search down to just a few schools the Admissions Office helped me out list out the pros and cons of all of my schools. I felt like this was a family here at Wartburg, and I felt when I stepped foot on campus I fit in. I felt like this was the family I had been raised to be a part of.  Everyone I have come in contact with has been the same way: they all want me to succeed and will do anything to help me get there.

WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS AFTER WARTBURG: My aspirations after attending Wartburg will be to pursue higher education in the form of graduate schools or medical school to get an MD or PhD in biology.

WHAT DID YOU NEVER IMAGINE YOU WOULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: Join a choir! I joined a choir because my roommates were all in some sort of music, and I was very bored that hour of the day when they were all gone. So I did the logical thing for someone who never sang before. It has been one of my favorite things at the school. I love the group of guys in the chorus, and Christmas with Wartburg is so amazing to be a part of. It has made my experience that much better.

HOW HAS THE SCHOLARS PROGRAM ENHANCED YOUR EXPERIENCE OR INFLUENCED YOU: The Scholars Program is a blessing in disguise I like to call it. You look at the program and think it would be cool to be in, but don’t realize until you are in the program how amazing it is. The Scholars Program has given me so many opportunities for engagement with the community and the faculty here at school. For instance, I was able to become a well-known student to the president of the college and can walk into his office and talk to him about anything. I was able to do this because in my first few years I had met with him and had many opportunities allowed by the Scholars Program to get to know President (Darrel) Colson. 

I think the program has challenged me more mentally than any other way. The courses I have taken in the Scholars Program have made me really break down who I am as a person since people in those classes had drastically different viewpoints than I have. It has allowed me to grow as a person knowing where I truly stand on hot topic issues that are being debated, but more importantly it has taught me how to deal with people I have different ideals from. I feel without the courses I have taken I wouldn’t be able to say I know how to hold an eloquent conversation about an important issue without causing either side to become hostile. 

HOW ARE YOU LIVING OUT THE WARTBURG MISSION: I am living the mission by getting a leadership minor so that wherever I go with my degree I will be able to deal with situations that I may not have been able to earlier in my life.  Also I have been learning more about myself through faith at the school. I have a great relationship with Pastor Brian Beckstrom, who I talk to pretty regularly about my own faith and expression. I didn’t grow up in an extremely religious family, so I was afraid to go to a school that had such deep roots in the Lutheran faith.  I can say that it has only made me grow as a person by questioning myself and figuring out what I really wanted to do with my faith.

WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS: Dr. Keith McClung (biology professor) is my research adviser for my senior research project. I have gotten to know him on a more personal level and feel he has been able to help me through issues both as a student and as a young adult. I also think that Lindsey Leonard in the Admissions Office has been a great mentor. I have worked with her the last two years and have been extremely fortunate to be able to have her help me through the college years.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO SHARE YOUR WARTBURG STORY AS AN AMBASSADOR: I love sharing my Wartburg story with anyone who wants to hear it. I want to let students know why I chose Wartburg and why I still feel it’s such a great fit for me, but more than that I want to help students find the right school for them so they can have the same sort of experience I have had. I want prospective students to feel comfortable in their choice and feel like they can achieve anything that they want at the school they choose.

WHY IS WARTBURG WORTH IT: People ask me all the time where I go to school, and I love telling them I go to Wartburg. I tell people with pride that it is the best decision I have made in my life. I also can’t tell you how amazing all of the alums are and the community behind all of the students. Everyone at the school, and also affiliates of the school, want to see Wartburg graduates succeed.