Meet Our Alumni

Wheeler Bridge

Bridging a Passage

Bridges hold an innate magic. Spanning spaces that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to pass, bridges give access and invite connection. How many bridges have you begun to cross only to pause at the center to take in your surroundings, to dare to peer over the edge, to consider the possibilities between here…

Northland College alum Scott Griffiths runs the SPARK program in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Fanning the Flame

Scott Griffiths '97 takes everything he's done in life and wraps into a package for teens.

You know that look someone has when they’re in love for the first time? The permanent half-smile like they’re recalling a joke from the night before, the easy laugh, lightness of step? That’s the look Scott Griffiths ’97 has. He glows. For one, he’s married to Kellie Pederson ’98, a ray of sunshine herself. The…

Portrait of April Stone, a Northland College alum

A Deeper Weave

April Stone '95

“I knocked forty-six years off that tree,” April Stone ’95 says, pointing back to her house. She’s referring to the pale, bark-less core of a black ash log atop a sawhorse. April lives at the southeastern corner of the Bad River Reservation, her house tucked in beneath an umbrella of healthy hardwoods. April separates black…

Northland College alum Halee Kirkwood holds books inside bookstore.

Where the Love Is

Halee Kirkwood '15 connects community through literature.

If Halee’s life were a book, it would be magical realism—one filled with dragons to slay, charming characters, and chance encounters gripped with meaning. Halee Kirkwood ’15, who uses the pronouns they/them/theirs, is an adjunct professor at Hamline University, editor of the literary journal Runestone, teacher at the Loft Literary Center, a poet and writer,…

Big Lake Organics owners Jamie Tucker and Todd Rothe stand near compost pile.

Rebuilding the Health of Our Planet

Todd Rothe ’10 and Jamie Tucker ’16 launch a Big Lake Organics.

On September 1, 2021, Todd Rothe ’10 and Jamie Tucker ’16 pulled on leather gloves, hooked up a trailer to a truck, and began collecting garbage bins of food scraps, coffee grounds, and paper products to haul to a farm field to begin the composting process. “We’re turning organic waste into soil, and we can…

Professor Dick Verch recorded plant taxonomy samples on Stockton Island in the early 1970s.

The Beauty and Fury of Lake Superior

Notes from the Field

Employed by the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute under a contract from the National Park Service, I was part of a team of students who conducted an ecological inventory of the Apostle Islands in the summer of 1975. I believe there were five teams composed of five members each that were to conduct an ecological inventory…

graphic for pandemic issue of Northland College magazine

Northland College Spring 2021 Issue

Grit is a firmness of character and indomitable spirit, an understated quality that shows itself in the face of challenge and adversity. There are many words we use to describe ourselves—scrappy, nimble, resilient, gutsy. We chose grit for the cover because it carries the weight to describe the Northland community this past year, and always.…


Shining a Light on Curiosity

Once upon a time, in the cool, dark air of his own backyard, a forestry professor swept the beam of a UV flashlight through the trees. He wanted to know if gray tree frogs fluoresce. They don’t. But when a furry shape found its way into the beam and glowed hot pink, Jon Martin discovered…

Sarah Szymaniak

Hitting the Ground Running

Sarah Szymaniak '17

In November 2019, Sarah Szymaniak ’17 began her new job as the City of Ashland deputy clerk. Responsible for executing elections, she had read reams of election law guidelines, made it through her first election in February 2020—and then in mid-March, the city locked down. “Elections can’t just stop,” she said. “There’s no way to…

Portrait of alumnus Jason Akl.

Looking Forward

Alum Jason Akl '99 navigates the pandemic.

Jason Akl ’99 is standing near his truck parked in front of the Ashland Baking Company on Chapple Avenue ready for his interview. He’s wearing winter wear over his suit, talking to a coworker at Northlakes Community Clinic where he is the CEO. It’s single digits, a pandemic, and the clinic just started dispensing vaccinations…