Six Scholarships Awarded at Griffith Park
The foundation's scholarship program for upper-division and graduate students at LA-area colleges and universities provides $1,000 cash awards to worthy applicants who demonstrate a connection to Scandinavia through life experience, travel, study abroad, field-of-study or heritage. From left to right, recipients of the six awards for 2001 are (not pictured -- Eric Kristensson and Jeremy Laundergan):

Aurelius Vijunas, UCLA Grad School, Indo-European Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies -- Vijunas' academic transcripts demonstrate extremely high performance at Vilnius University in his native Lithuania, the University of Iceland and, presently, UCLA. He had outstanding recommendations from his professors. He is fluent in Lithuanian, English, Icelandic, Russian, Fardese and Spanish. Vijunas says the UCLA program "provides students with training in the study of ancient Indo-European languages and cultures, their development and origin, the reconstruction of the parental proto-language, and the study of its relationship to other, non Indo-European languages." During his Icelandic study, Vijunas learned Old Norse and translated the ancient Poetic Edda -- among the oldest and most significant Scandinavian/Germanic god-hero legends, which offers valuable insight into Viking culture, mythology and traditions.

Robert Spang, USC Graduate School, Doctor of Physical Therapy -- Spang, born in Eskilstuna, Sweden, began studying at California Lutheran University where he earned a B.S. in sports medicine. He's now in the fifth semester of the prestigious USC doctoral program in physical therapy -- recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its annual "Best Graduate Schools in America" issue. His advisor wrote, "Spang clearly is excelling in our program. He wants to pursue a career as a physical therapist and assist individuals with head and spinal-cord injuries. He's also interested in a rigorous neurosciences education, and then returning to Sweden to teach and treat patients."

Eric Kristensson, UCLA Master's Program, English Literature, Scandinavian Literature and Languages -- Kristensson, of Torrance, has Swedish-immigrant parents and remembers an early experience catching fish in the canal outside his grandparents' home in the province of Varmland, Sweden. He divides his higher education -- which began at Pasadena City College -- into two categories: "Before I got serious" and "After I got serious." After receiving a bachelor's degree in general education/English from Cal State-LA, he took time off from his studies, and came back with a vengeance seven years later. Since then, he's been a consistent honors student, plans to continue his grad work, and hopes one day to teach. He and his wife both work as Delta flight attendants and have one young son. Eric volunteers with Hispanic youth as a soccer coach -- always wearing his "Team Sweden" jersey. He says, "Even if I'm hired by a school without a Scandinavian studies department, I'll bring with me and use all that I've learned."

Jeremy Laundergan, Cal State-Long Beach, Master of Science and Engineering, Engineering Management Program -- Laundergan, from Duluth, Minnesota, has Norwegian-American parents. His father is a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and in Sweden helped set up the Minnesota Model of alcoholism treatment. Laundergan began his studies in pre-engineering at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and finished at U. Minn.-Duluth with a bachelors in industrial engineering. He currently is pursuing a masters in science and engineering at Cal State-Long Beach. He's in the project-management certificate program at the University of California-Irvine and worked at Boeing Space Systems Composites Development as an engineer/scientist from 1996-2000. He has a small marine-engineering consulting company. He loves to sail and he has twice competed in A-class world championships, in Long Beach in 1997, and in Melbourne in 1999. His glowing recommendations from a University of Minnesota industrial engineering professor, from a general manager at Boeing-Spokane, and from a former supervisor at Boeing-Huntington Beach might be because they suspect they could one day end up working for him.

Nicolina Karlsson, UCLA undergraduate, B.A. School of Fine Arts -- Ms. Karlsson was born in Ljungby, Sweden, where she began her arts education in a two-year program at De La Gardie Skolan, continued at St. Sigfrid's College for Adult Education then -- after coming to the US -- at Santa Monica College and, finally, at UCLA. Early on, Ms. Karlsson recognized the therapeutic benefits of art. Artistic expression and study helped her through the grief of her mother's suicide. She has won many awards for her art, and for her work with autistic children. Her art work has been shown in both Los Angeles and Sweden. Nicolina worked as an assistant kindergarten teacher, science-camp counselor with autistic children, and in art therapy for anorexia and bulimia patients. She was one of seven transfer students out of 150 to be accepted to UCLA. She plans to 'continue studying fine art and psychology, and to reach my goal of becoming an artist and teacher. With my life experience and education -- specializing in autistic and handicapped teenagers -- I'll be able to help many people."

Marja Kay, Chapman University undergraduate, B.A. Music/Voice -- Ms. Kay is active in the Scandinavian community with her mother, Marilyn Kujala, as a participant/volunteer in the ASFLA Fall Scandinavian Festival, and with the LA Finlandia Foundation. She is a former ASFLA Holiday Ball Santa Lucia. Currently a senior at Chapman, Ms. Kay said, "After graduation, I plan to go to the east coast to earn my doctorate. From there, I'd like to perform operatically, or teach. I'm itching to meet new people and help make a difference in peoples' lives. My passion, motivation and energy will take me far. And my education will make me strong." Ms Kay, from Anaheim, has traveled numerous times to Finland, and has attended summer language camp at Salolampi in Minnesota. At school, Ms. Kay is active in the Chapman University Singers, the opera workshop, and Bran Dehn's Meistersingers.

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