Beth Blonigen joins Faculty Development
I grew up in central Minnesota and earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of St. Benedict, double majoring in History and Nutrition Science. I really enjoyed my years at St. Ben’s and my time working as a student planted a seed of interest in working in Higher Education as a possible career. While I was a student at St. Ben’s, I had studied abroad in Ireland and it changed my life. I really grew into myself and my experiences traveling around Europe and meeting many different types of people was fulfilling. After working for a few years to save up for graduate school, I decided to make that jump to the next level in my education. I moved to the west coast of Ireland for graduate school, earning my Master of Arts degree in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Although I had done a lot of international traveling since graduating from high school, becoming a resident of another country generated a level of engagement that I had never achieved while merely passing through a region with my backpack. I spent my first summer in Galway working as a tour guide for a local bus company and learned what it meant to be “Irish.” I wanted to get a well-rounded experience, so I spent half of my first year in Ireland living in a small village about 30 minutes outside of Galway and then moved into the city for the rest of my stay. My family is of Irish ancestry and my ginger hair occasionally got me a free pint of the good stuff, but I was really able to appreciate the Irish people and, through my schooling, delved deeper into Ireland’s history and culture. I gained a new sense of my place in the world and was able to share my own experiences as an American in her mid-20s with a diverse group of college friends from across the continent, as well as local artists and musicians living in Galway. I thoroughly enjoyed my time living and learning in Ireland, but with the turn of the American and later the Irish economy in 2008, a green card was no longer a viable option upon graduation and I returned to Minnesota to start my next chapter. I do still offer up an occasional “Dia dhuit” (a traditional Irish greeting), “Go raibh maith agat” (an Irish version of “thank you”) or “sláinte” (an Irish drinking toast); just in case you were wondering.
After spending a little time in the private sector, I decided that I wanted to return to working in Higher Education. I have concentrated my time mainly in the academic and student affairs arenas in roles as a Financial Aid counselor, Registrar, and Assistant Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at public and private universities in several states. I found working in a college setting fostered an atmosphere focused on community, and I enjoyed feeding off of the energy and enthusiasm of the students that I helped. Ambition feeds ambition, and I have always been an ambitious person so I have loved my time in Higher Education and continue to thrive in this setting.
I am excited to have joined the UST community and look forward to interacting with students, faculty, and staff as I split my time on campus between the Center for Faculty Development and Luann Dummer Center for Women. In my short time on campus this summer, I have stepped into my role as organizer of the Yarn Tamers group through LDCW and am a member of the LDCW Book Club. My fiancé and I have thoroughly enjoyed returning to Minnesota, settling back into life in the Midwest and planning our wedding in Hawaii this fall.