Karen Ahlstrom Bishop ’86 Inducted 2003
Karen Ahlstrom was a standout all-around gymnast when Gustavus was dominating small-college gymnastics in the mid-'80s. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ahlstrom placed third in the all-around and finished in the top six on the balance beam, vault, and floor exercise to help the Gusties win the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) national team championship in 1984. Then, in 1985, Ahlstrom propelled Gustavus to its second consecutive NCGA national team championship by winning the national all-around title and the individual title on the floor exercise while also finishing in the top six on the vault, uneven bars, and balance beam. She is the only gymnast in Gustavus history to win two national titles (all-around, floor exercise) and earn All-America honors in five competitive events in one year (all-around, balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise, and vault). In her three-year gymnastics career, Ahlstrom received All-America honors nine times, which ties her with Tina Pulido for the most All-America certificates in Gustavus gymnastics history.
A cum laude graduate with a major in biology, Karen went on to earn a nursing degree at Mesa Community College and then worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse in Phoenix for three years. Ahlstrom then enrolled in medical school at the University of Arizona in 1992. She graduated in 1996 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to complete her internship and residency. Ahlstrom began a private practice in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat specialization) in Spokane, Washington, in July of 2001. Karen and her husband, Tim, a cardiologist, are currently building a new home just outside Spokane.