Luther College Chips

Alums welcomed back as faculty: Andy Meyer (‘04) in Nordic studies department

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Visiting Assistant Professor of Scandanavian Studies Andrew Meyer (‘04) in Trondheim,
Norway during a ski tour.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Scandanavian Studies Andrew Meyer (‘04) in Trondheim, Norway during a ski tour.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Meyer (‘04)

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Meyer (‘04)

Visiting Assistant Professor of Scandanavian Studies Andrew Meyer (‘04) in Trondheim, Norway during a ski tour.

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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One’s bachelor’s degree does not always decide one’s professional life post-Luther. Visiting Professor of Scandinavian Studies Andy Meyer (‘04) is an example of this. He joined the Nordic studies department for the 2017-18 school year following Visiting Instructor Kari Grønningsæter’s departure from Luther at the end of spring semester.

While at Luther, Meyer was a member of Sigma Tau Delta and Nordic Choir and served as the ensemble’s president during his senior year. Meyer graduated magna cum laude from Luther with a degree in English and a minor in music, but always had a passion for the Norwegian language.

“I took three semesters of Norwegian [at Luther] and it’s in my background, too,” Meyer said. “My great-grandfather immigrated from Lillehammer in 1906 to a little town in Wisconsin, which is where my mom and her family grew up. My grandpa spoke Norwegian as a child. I always wanted to learn it since it is in my family. After Luther, even though I wasn’t a minor or a major in Scandinavian Studies, [Norwegian] was still part of my life.”

While obtaining his master’s degree at the University of Washington, Meyer received a scholarship to study at the International Summer School at the University of Oslo in 2005.

“That [experience] sort of set me on the path a little bit,” Meyer said. “I had friends and family in Norway so I could keep in touch and just barely keep my Norwegian alive.”

Meyer’s interest in the Norwegian language continued to grow after receiving the Rovang Scholar in American Studies fellowship through the Fulbright Foundation in 2015-16. After returning to the U.S. and his job teaching at an independent preparatory school in Seattle, Meyer began to reconsider his career path.

“I traveled all over the country and visited high schools talking about American history, literature, and culture,” Meyer said. “At that point, my Norwegian really clicked in. When I came back to my job in Seattle as a teacher, after a year of readjusting and not being sure I wanted to be in that career path, I got in touch with [Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies Maren Johnson] through a couple of connections. [The Nordic Studies department] needed a replacement, so we had some conversations and I decided to apply.”

According to Johnson, Meyer stood out from other candidates because of his passion for the Norwegian language and unconventional career path. She believes he can inspire Luther students and be an asset to the Nordic Studies department.

“He adds an incredible wealth of knowledge of Norway [and] modern Norwegian culture,” Johnson said. “What he shows to students is the multitude of pathways that knowing Norwegian can take you. He started his language learning here at Luther, and that kept coming around in his life.”

Nordic studies major Linnea Kephart (‘19) believes she has already gained a lot from Meyer’s example and finds his career approach inspiring.

“I think he brings a lot of excitement to class and a genuine love for all things Nordic,” Kephart said. “We definitely lost a wonderful human being and role model this year since Kari Grønningsæter had to return to Norway, but [Meyer] has done a fantastic job embodying her spirit.”

Kephart went on to explain the importance of his presence among Nordic Studies students.

“I think his personality makes his students hopeful,” Kephart said. “To see someone like us, a graduate from Luther, find his place in life, follow his dreams, and succeed in an area where not many people venture is incredible.”

Meyer says that his experience as a Rovang Fulbright Scholar influenced his desire to engage with students in a way that nurtures their global curiosity. While in Norway, he visited 61 high schools and saw a level of interest in national and personal concerns he would like to see replicated during his time at Luther.

“Seeing Norwegian students engage in questions of career and self-development was really moving,” Meyer said. “Especially to see the ways that they think about the role of the government or the state in their lives versus the way Americans do, and the curiosity they have for American culture was pretty fascinating. [I came] back wanting so badly to encourage young people to develop their curiosity about other cultures.”

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