Anna June Jensen and Michaela Hesse chosen as 2018 commencement speakers
Anna June Jensen
Political Science and Economics major Anna Jensen has through her four years at UMD dedicated her time to many activities and was recently selected to be the commencement speaker for the morning ceremony on May 5.
Jensen, a Hermantown native, was nominated by her professor in political science, Joe Staats. She believes the reason he did because of her involvement in a variety of different organizations and departments, including the University Honors Program.
“I’m the pre-law club president and I’m involved in the mock-trial team,” Jensen said. “Professor Staats has been very involved with my education and he’s really passionate about my future career.”
Jensen is planning to take a year off while she is studying for the LSAT and applying to law schools in the fall of 2018, dreaming of either Yale or Stanford.
“Hopefully in the spring I would have picked somewhere to go, and then I’ll be going to law school for three years,” Jensen said.
Having spent four years at UMD, Jensen is looking forward to moving on. She said that she originally picked UMD because she liked the campus and because it was cheaper than the Ivy league schools she had applied for.
“If I wasn’t going to be in an Ivy league, I wasn’t going to go somewhere else and pay even more money,” Jensen said.
Jensen has been busy throughout her years at UMD, spending one year with the track team before committing to academics and a study abroad experience at Oxford Brooks University in England in the fall of her sophomore year.
“It was probably my favorite experience of my entire college career and I wish I could do it again,” Jensen said. “Being emerged in another culture and being somewhere else was amazing. I had never even been outside of the country before, so that was my first time out. I really enjoyed it.”
Back in Minnesota, Jensen spent her last two years at UMD being on the university’s mock trial team. Each year, the American Mock Trial Association puts together a case that different universities and colleges competes on judging.
“Each school has one team that breaks off into defense or prosecution,” Jensen said. “When we go to tournaments our team would go against another school. It’s very competitive, you really have to know your stuff and the case law.”
Jensen said that the people that put together the case, including evidence and real life scenarios.
“It has helped me know that I like doing it,” Jensen said. “I now know that I like to do it and that I can do it.”
Jensen has known since seventh grade that she wanted to attend law school. Throughout college she has decided that she want to do either business law or environmental law. This is why Jensen decided to complete a B.A. in Economy in addition to her political science degree.
Along with being the secretary of the the mock trial team, Jensen is the president of the pre-law club, the secretary of the Political Science Association and has completed a UROP where she studied the effects of immigration on U.S. Economy on GDP in U.S. unemployment. Jensen has even had her own poem in a book called “Best Emerging Poets in Minnesota”, published through the Z Publishing House.
“Last year, I won one of the Mike Lentz Creative Writing Scholarship for submitting a portfolio with poems,” Jensen said. “The Z Publishing House then contacted me and asked if they could publish one of the poems. They picked a poem and put it in there.”
The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program(UROP) that Jensen did this year was an empirical examination of Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
“Preliminary, our results showed that immigration reduces unemployment and increases GDP, so Trump was wrong,” Jensen said. “I presented that at the Midwest Economic Association in Chicago and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Oklahoma.”
Jensen recently won the Sir Duluth Award, which is the highest honor given to UMD students for being actively involved in campus organizations and the community for three or more years. Jensen has spent the last two years interning with the Department of Transportation in Superior. She has also volunteered at the Benedictine Health Center at St. Scholastica, where she has organized activities for elderly.
Reaching the end of her college career, Jensen said that she has enjoyed meeting all the different people she has met at UMD.
“The education part is important, but my favorite thing was just being around people that enjoyed a lot of the same things as me and had similar interest,” Jensen said. “Everybody is from all over, so it’s nice that way.”
Jensen said that she feels like college was the transformative period in her life.
“I came out of high school thinking I knew a lot, then realizing WOW I really don’t know a lot,” Jensen said. “I feel a lot more professional than I did coming out of high school and I’m more independent.”
Jensen is excited to give the speech on May 5 and said she is looking forward to writing a funny speech.
“It’s pretty scary,” Jensen said. “I’m really honored though. It’s super interesting that they wanted me to do it.”
Communication Sciences and Disorders major Michaela Hesse has also been selected to be a UMD class of 2018’s commencement ceremony speakers and has been given the task of speaking at the second commencement ceremony on May 5. She was nominated by her professor Dana Collins.
“She has been my mentor for my UROP project, so I’ve worked with her quite a bit,” Hesse said. “She and the department head nominated me, and they didn’t tell me that they did.”
Up until a few weeks ago, Hesse didn’t know that she was nominated to be the student speaker. Not until Collins asked her to come in to the office and said ‘Would you be OK with this? I think you might be in the top two that they are trying to pick from.”
“The ironic part was that I had told my Mom that I was nominated for something because I knew I was nominated for something, just not what, and my mom goes ‘what if it’s for graduation commencement speaker?’,” Hesse said. “I said ‘No, that’s not going to happen’ Then I got the email and my Mom laughed her butt off.”
Hesse is along with Jensen excited to give the speech.
“It’s a big honor,” Hesse said. “I felt encouraged that someone thought of me and that I would be able to do that.”
Hesse believes that she may have been picked because she is a social person and has a strong work ethic.
“I’m pretty outgoing and on the other hand my professors have seen my work ethic in the classroom and I think they see me as a good role model overall,” Hesse said. “Why exactly for this speech? I don’t exactly know, but I’m happy about it.”
Hesse came in to UMD with enough credits to only spend three years in college. During that time she has completed a UROP study and been both a rockstar and team lead for the Office of Students in Transitions. Hesse has also been a part of the track & field team where she made it to nationals and became an all american with her team, placing 2nd in distance medley relay. Her team also currently holds the record in 4x400 relay.
She has also been involved with Athletes in Action, American Sign Language (ASL) club and She’s the First. She has even hiked 30 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail in one day with RSOP and other UMD students.
In addition to her CSD major, Hesse is also completing a minor in ASL, which is something she said is a big accomplishment as she grew up knowing someone who is deaf. Hesse said she has always wanted to learn the language.
“I’m so much more confident in that I have another language to speak,” Hesse said. “I have loved it, especially the visual nature of it. I can communicate with other people and I’m aware of the deaf culture and it’s really cool. I really like it.”
Next to her academics, Hesse feels that the three years at UMD has given her many valuable life lessons.
“I think college has taught me a lot about myself, being able to go with the flow, open up and being enlightened about different things,” Hesse said. “Explore life and take it for the rains and go for it.”
Hesse has big plans for the next year and is marrying her high school sweetheart in June. After a week of honeymoon, Hesse and her husband move to North Carolina in July where she will be attending the University of North Carolina in the fall. Hesse is planning to complete her masters in Speech-Language Pathology before doing a Clinical Fellowship Year.
“My goal in the end is to work in a hospital,” Hesse said. “UNC has a very good medical program. There’s a hospital five minutes from the building where I’ll have most of my classes.”
Hesse wants to focus her masters on the loss of language, which is the loss of language, which is the cognitive neuroscience part of CSD. She said she is interested in this because she likes to see how the brain works. Other than that, Hesse said that she’ll go with the flow.
“I’ll see where life takes me,” Hesse said. “Until I’m done with school here, I’m waiting to see where everything else takes me.”
As Hesse shortly finishes up her bachelor's degree, she is looking forward to commencement day.
“I’m excited just to be with all my classmates and celebrate the end of this era,” Hesse said. “It’s going to be sad as we’re all going in different directions. It’ll be a big change, but it’s also really exciting because you finally finished something and you did it!”
When it comes to her speech, Hesse is planning to talk about the subject of change after college and the process of accepting change as she has moved a couple of times in her life and had some big life changes.
“You kind of have to embrace that change and you never know what’s going to come out of it,” Hesse said. “It’s crazy and I’m in denial. I want it to end, but I don’t want it to end.”
Thumbnail image courtesy of Brett Groehler