Class of '97
May 2006

Greetings Class of 1997!

As spring is coming into full swing, we hope this finds you all well.  As you will read in this class letter, CHANGE is a constant.  As a class, we have seen this letter go from focusing on post-graduate work, to employment opportunities, to weddings, and we are now beginning to have a larger “New Additions” section than anything else.  Please keep Gustavus posted with ALL changes that you want your classmates to be aware of by contacting the Alumni Office or your class agents.


  • Gift giving:  You will notice that you have received a gift envelope along with this class letter.  The 2006 Alumni Fund will be drawing to a close by May 31!  Your gift to Gustavus is truly appreciated and the size of the gift depends on your situation in life – so give what you can comfortably give.  We would love to have the Class of ’97 towards the top of the list in terms of participation of class members who gave and support Gustavus’ mission.
  • As most of you are aware, we will be celebrating our 10-Year Reunion in the fall of 2007.  In order to prepare and plan for all of our reunion events and activities we will be putting together a reunion committee.  If you are interested in serving in some capacity (there are several branches:  Reunion Giving Committee, Reunion Communication Committee, and Reunion Event Committee) please contact your class agents at
  • Speaking of Reunions and Celebrations, congratulations to the Omega Kappa fraternity as they are having its CENTENNIAL celebration this fall.  Saturday, October 21, 2006 there will be a program at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  If you would like more information you may contact the Alumni Office or go to

KUDOS to our fellow classmates who have been recognized for the following accomplishments:

Stephen Bryden recently released his second rap CD (artist name ‘Sankofa,’ album entitled “Still Means Something”) that was nominated for Fort Wayne’s local album of the year.  He is currently working on his third album “The Tortoise Hustle.”  More details at:

Adam Holmes who received a “Bravo Award” on February 9 from the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce.  The award is given annually to an “unsung hero,” a TwinWest member who consistently shows commitment and dedication to TwinWest and its communities.  He is a senior project manager at Vanman Architects and Builders while living in Long Lake, MN.


Melissa LeVesque Piela, Josh Peterson, Jon Swanson and Stef Tucker

1997 Co-class Agents

Contact us at:


  • Angela Carlson is a branch operations manager at Countrywide Full Spectrum, Lending Division.
  • Kathy Chillstrom is now the center director at the Huntington Learning Center in Woodbury, MN.
  • Andrea Cordes Ruppert is now teaching third grade at San Francisco Day School in California.
  • David Dingman is now employed by American West Mortgage.
  • Andrew Dow is a mortgage banker at First Residential Mortgage in Louisville, KY.
  • Charlotte Fagerberg is working as a buyer for Stock Building Supply in Austin, Texas.  She recently moved to Texas from Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Molly Haigh Nystuen is the sourcing lead for Best Buy in Richfield, Minnesota.
  • Natalie Spilde Hokanson is working for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.  Her husband, Carl Hokanson, works at Martin Luther Manor as a transitional care social worker.
  • Michael Jensen is employed as an environmental health specialist for Hennepin County.
  • Erin Johnson Turner is a lawyer at Johnson & Turner.
  • Erin Mathern is an attorney for Mendota Homes.
  • Emily Miller is employed by Fairview Pharmacies at the University of Minnesota as a transplant coordinator.
  • Anna Radjenovich Holmes is currently working for Merz Physical Therapy.
  • Angie Stene is working with International Medical Corps – a US-based health organization in Ethiopia designing food security and emergency nutrition programs throughout Ethiopia.
  • Jonathan Turner is employed by Summit Inviral Solution as an environmental consultant.
  • Sara Williams Balster is the EpicCare ambulatory application coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin.  She also just completed her service in the United States Army!
  • Shelley Wolfgram Sanchez is currently a project manager for Bioscrip.


  • Angela Bauer Erickson and Greg Erickson welcomed a baby boy, Peyton Christopher, on June 4, 2005.
  • Julie Brouwer Dvergsten and Steve Dvergsten welcomed a baby girl, Sofia, on June 26, 2005.
  • Jill Budach Bergman and her husband, Randall, welcomed a baby girl, Aria Marie, on January 23, 2006.
  • Jessie Damme-Soronen Fahrbach and husband, K.C. Fahrbach, welcomed a son, Ethan, born on June 28, 2005.
  • Scott Davis and Anna Davis welcomed a baby girl, Grace Anna, on December 12, 2005.
  • Andrew and Kristi Dow welcomed a baby girl, Karleigh Isabelle, on May 10, 2005.
  • Stacy Dunekacke Retka and Joe Retka welcomed a baby boy, Burke, on December 24, 2005.
  • Kathryn Durfee Zabell and Adam Zabell welcomed baby girl, Jennifer Elizabeth, on January 6, 2006.
  • Melissa LeVesque Piela and husband, Christopher ’95, welcomed Andrew John LeVesque Piela, born February 6, 2006 and joins big sister Lauren, 3.
  • Karin Foster Vavrichek and Daryl Vavrichek ’99 welcomed a baby boy, Bennett, on August 14, 2005.
  • Molly Haigh Nystuen and Trygve Nystuen had a baby girl, Anja Josephine, on September 7, 2005.
  • Amy Herbert Leval and Mats Leval welcomed a baby girl, Thea Johanna, on January 11, 2006.
  • Shawn Kirsch and Lena Jacobsen Kirsch welcomed a baby girl, Greta Marion, on September 21, 2005.
  • Eric Larson and Toni Larson welcomed a daughter, Erin Joy, on January 17, 2004.
  • Amy Moeller Walz and Tom Walz adopted and welcomed a girl, Mya Noel, on July 10, 2005.
  • Kristopher Newman and Kelly Newman welcomed Miles on June 19, 2005.
  • Alison Rucinski Goodwin and Geoff Goodwin ’96 had a baby girl, Angela Anne, on July 19, 2005.
  • Anne Schauer Rood and Lee Rood welcomed a baby boy, Braeden Carl Robert Rood, on June 9, 2005.
  • Dwayne and Nichola Strom welcomed Aiden Strom on April 8, 2005.
  • Jon and Jill (Watson) Swanson welcomed a baby girl, Avery Kathleen, on July 23, 2005.
  • Sara Williams Balster and Tom Balster had a baby girl, Adalie Grace, on March 13, 2005.


  • Rachel Buboltz married Tony Kehagias on July 2, 2005.
  • Andrea Cordes married Andrew Ruppert on October 8, 2005.
  • Robert Cramer married CarLee Hoffman on October 8, 2005.


  • Chris Cagle will be starting law school at the University of St. Thomas in the fall of 2006.
  • Kathryn Durfee Zabell completed her Ph.D. in structural biology from Purdue University on December 12, 2005.
  • Amy Herbert Leval received her BSN in nursing from Karolinska Instituet, Stockholm, Sweden in January 2006.


The Alumni Board met on campus in February and made the final selection for the Alumni Awards:

Greater Gustavus Award:  Gustavus Library Associates, for providing financial resources for Folke Bernadotte Library, and engaging and introducing alumni and friends in the mission of the College.

Distinguished Alumni Citations:  Karen Bossart Rusthoven ’66, St. Paul, MN, founder and principal of Community of Peace Academy, St. Paul; Susan Semple-Rowland ’77, Gainesville, FL, professor of neuroscience, University of Florida and director, Neuroscience IDP Graduate Program; and Magnus Ranstorp ’85, St. Andrews, Scotland, chief scientist at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies, Swedish National Defense College; and a Senior Honorary Research Associate and former Director of Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

First Decade Awards:  Rebecca Konrad ’96, Washington, DC, investment officer, global transaction team, The World Bank International Finance Corporation; and Milo Martin ’96, Philadelphia, PA, assistant professor, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Pennsylvania. 

The awards will be presented on Commencement Weekend or Homecoming Weekend depending on the recipient’s schedule.

Gustavus Alumni Directory

The 2006 Gustavus Alumni Directory will be published soon and our goal is to represent your information as accurately as possible in the printed edition.  PCI:  the data company, is publishing our directory and a short phone call will update or verify your information.  Call toll free:  1-800-982-1589, Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CST, and Sunday, 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. CST.  International callers dial:  1-972-386-0100, Monday-Friday CST.

Short Term Medical (STM) insurance Available

Short Term Medical Insurance can fill the temporary needs of those without health insurance, usually at a lower cost than other alternatives.  Alumni and their families may apply.  This is perfect for children of alumni who are graduating (even if they did not attend Gustavus) and aren’t yet covered under an employer’s health plan.  Contact the program administrator at Meyer and Associates at:  800-635-7801 or about this and other sponsored life, medical, auto and homeowners insurance.

MAYDAY! Peace Conference:  "AIDS + Africa, the Unfolding Crisis"

The 26th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference was on Wednesday, April 19.  This year's topic was AIDS in Africa.  The conference featured a keynote address by Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the HIV virus, and Marjorie Mbilinyi, social activist and professor in Tanzania.  The AIDS Memorial Quilt was also on campus for viewing.  Robert Gallo spent time on campus during March and April sponsored by the Robert E. and Susan T. Rydell Distinguished Professorship, a residency program for Nobel Laureates and similarly distinguished scholars.

Gusties Gather!

Gusties around the world are called to gather on Sunday, August 6!  The Alumni Board is designating this day as a way for Gusties to stay connected with each other.  In research among alumni, we know that Gusties already stay in contact with many alumni, and we know that Gusties have a strong interest in staying connected with other Gusties and with the College.  Ever think you want to do more to be connected with Gustavus?  Now is your chance, signup to host a Gusties Gather! event.  Complete event check-list, host kit, and details will be provided.  Sign-up via e-mail at <> or call 800/487-8437.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Reunion for Class of 1956 and 50-Year Club – May 26-27
  • Commencement – May 28
  • Gusties Gather! – August 6
  • Reunions for the classes of 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 – October 6-8
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 7 & 8