In many cases, students’ talents, strengths, and ambitions are identified early on in their high school careers. For that reason, Concordia Cohorts are designed with advanced curricula to further develop and stretch the minds of our students.
In the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine, we have developed our STEM curriculum. Students inspired to achieve in the area of fine arts will be interested in our Emerging Artist Curriculum. Humanities Scholars study what it means to be human and what it means to think thoughtfully about who we are and why we are here. A new "trades" cohort is also being developed.
Cohort Conversations provide students with an opportunity to come together with like-minded students during extended lunch periods on specific Fridays to pursue their passion in the areas of STEM, Arts, and Humanities. Unfortunately, due to schedule changes related to COVID-19 safety precautions, Cohort Conversations are currently on hold.
Most Cohort Conversations will include an outside speaker presenting on a topic related to the particular cohort emphasis. An executive from 3M may speak to the STEM Cohort on how 3M fosters innovation within its company. A professional painter or writer may share with our Emerging Artists how it’s possible to make a living as a professional artist. Lawyers, social workers, and politicians may well speak to our Humanities Scholars on how they use their profession to improve the world around them.
Although Friday Cohort Conversations are designed to appeal to students in our STEM, Emerging Artist Curriculum, and Humanities Scholar cohorts, they are open to any student with an interest in the topic being presented. Students may attend any Cohort Conversation without committing to one of the more demanding cohort tracks. While the Concordia Cohort programs are primarily for juniors and seniors, freshmen and sophomores may participate in any (or all) Cohort Conversations.
Details about 2019-2020 Cohort Conversations can be found below.
2019-2020 Cohort Conversations
Join Ria Thurston, owner of [Ri&He] Photography, as she shares her story of owning a thriving photography business. Since 2009, she has photographed countless weddings, families, seniors, and other life milestones. Ria will talk about her photographic journey, serving Jesus through the arts, and her passion for encouraging others to pursue their God-given dreams. You'll be inspired by her infectious energy, real-world experience, exceptional talent, and deep faith.
Daily, Jason Campagna brings science to life for 3M customers, in ways that go far beyond Post-It Notes! In his 29 years at 3M, he has worked in product and application development and managed their Innovation Center, a place to innovate, collaborate, and experience how to improve every life, every day. During this conversation, Jason will discuss how an interest in high school chemistry and physics led to degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from University of Minnesota. He'll also answer questions about his role at 3M, a Twin Cities-based Fortune 500 Company that connects science to millions of people across the globe every single day.
You can't have "history" without "story," and Paul Hillmer loves both. While doing research for his writing, which includes several books, numerous articles, and a documentary DVD series, he has traveled throughout the US, China, Thailand, Laos, Mexico, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, meeting fascinating people and encouraging them to share their unique stories. Dr. Hillmer will talk about the importance of people's personal stories in historical research and share anecdotes about individuals he's met during his journeys. Don't be surprised if, in addition to sharing his stories, he also shares a bit about some of his other passions: playing guitar, being a die-hard Twins fan, sailing, and serving as the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Concordia University, St. Paul.
Marita Meinerts Albinson's career began in Nashville where she joined a record company in marketing and communications roles, eventually touring the United States as a road manager for national artists and musicians, including the late Rich Mullins. Back in Minnesota and following three tenures totaling more than 10 years at the world-renowned Guthrie Theater, she is currently managing their communication and public relations strategies. Join Marita to get an insider's perspective on the music industry, professional theatre, and the intersection of faith and the arts.
Peter Zeller is an application engineer working for Trane, an international manufacturer of HVAC (heating ventilation & air conditioning) systems. He is a 2015 CA alumnus, and he graduated from Iowa State University in the spring of 2019 with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. In his free time, he also makes use of his engineering education as he enjoys designing and tinkering with 3D printing hobby projects. Peter will share his experience in studying to be an engineer and will offer advice to fellow Beacons who are considering becoming engineers themselves.
The Ramsey County Community Corrections department paves the way for safe and healthy communities through interventions that promote personal change and accountability. Working with and connecting with individuals is at the heart of the important work that Jason Mereness (CA '99) does as an adult probation supervisor for the Community Corrections Department. Join Jason as he shares stories of how probation, courts, and correctional institutions connect with people on a daily basis.
Anna Leigh Biedenbender works from multiple sources when creating her award-winning art. With a keen interest in exploring the human condition, her process includes photographic reference and direct observation, combining and translating this information through painting and drawing. As Anna works, she reflects on the intersections of personal identity, sanctuary, and relationship. In her Emerging Artist Cohort Conversation, Anna will answer questions about her painting process, show examples of her dynamic work, and share her feeling about being an artist who is a Christian. You can view her art at www.annaleighbiedenbender.com.
Tracy E. Berglund is passionate about inspiring generosity, and in her role as a financial advisor with Thrivent, she gets to do that on a daily basis. In her STEM Cohort Conversation, she'll discuss the educational path to her career, explain the role of a financial advisor (it's more than just crunching numbers), and share some of the benefits of working for a Christian organization such as Thrivent.
For much of U.S. history, the farm has been a key component of culture and a foundation for family life in America. Dan Kapernick, a 2005 CA graduate, and his wife Jenny are a part of that important tradition as owners and operators of Little Big Sky Farm, a diverse vegetable farm located in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley. The farm serves the Twin Cities and greater St. Peter/Mankato area by growing approximately 50 different vegetables on two acres of cultivated land. Join Dan as he discusses how working on an organic farm in high school planted the seeds of Little Big Sky Farm, the community-supported agriculture (CSA) movement, and what it means to serve...and feed...the community through farming.
Matthew Griswold (CA ’01) made the transition from US Army soldier to professional songwriter/musician in 2008, and after a short stint in Nashville and securing a publishing deal with Universal Music Group, he headed back to Minnesota and began his career of writing and producing songs for film and television. In 2018, he was even the focus of an episode of PBS’s “Prairie Musicians.” Matthew will talk about his career path, share some of his music, and explain his passion for being a “personal messenger.” Learn more at matthewgriswoldmusic.net.
As a project manager for Ryan Companies, Ashley Herman (CA ‘10) works with construction team members, subcontractors, and owners to create spaces that people live in, work in, and do life in. She’ll shed light on construction-related career paths, including architecture and engineering, virtual design and coordination, construction/project management, and field construction. Ashley will also allow students to explore a virtual building model with VR goggles.
Humanitarian Aid Worker Jen Meyerson (CA ‘03) has worked for missions groups, medical organizations, and the United Nations, living in refugee camps and areas of conflict. As the Director of Relief at Preemptive Love, she comes alongside families and creates programs that provide emergency food and healthcare in the midst of crisis. She also designs sustainable programs that offer job opportunities and support families as they rebuild their lives. In 2019, she launched programs in Syria, Iraq, Mexico, and Venezuela.
As a genetic counselor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Laura Fisher works to evaluate and understand a family's risk of inherited medical conditions, dealing with specialties such as cancer, cardiology, Neurofibromatosis, and whole exome sequencing. In this STEM Cohort Conversation, Laura will discuss the responsibilities and roles of genetic counselors, talk about the education required to become a genetic counselor, and share some case examples.
LINC Twin Cities raises up and empowers leaders from multiple ethnic backgrounds to start outreach ministries like a restoration home for victims of sex trafficking, a network of Christ-centered small schools, and a grocery store in food dessert and more. In this Humanities Cohort Conversation, Pastor Ben Griffin, City Director for LINC Twin Cities, will talk about leading a non-profit, entrepreneurship, and working with diverse cultures to make a powerful impact in the community.
Herbert Johnson, Professor of Music, teaches piano, piano theory, and piano pedagogy at Bethel University. He is also an active solo and collaborative pianist in the Twin Cities, participating in chamber music recitals, worship services, and sacred concerts. For this Emerging Artist Cohort Conversation, join Professor Johnson as he discusses his training, career path, and experiences with sacred and secular music, both in classrooms and concert settings. (Note: This Cohort Conversation has been rescheduled from March 6.)