Megan Rubbelke: Building community

When Megan Rubbelke, who received her degree in mathematicsthis past spring with a specialization in education, graduated

from high school in the small northern Minnesota town

of Aitkin, she received her diploma in the company of exactly

86 fellow seniors. Small wonder that, when it came time to

choose a college, one of the criteria she sought was community.

“I drew up a spreadsheet of things that are important to me,”

she recalls. “I wanted to stay in Minnesota and discovered

there’s a strong sense of community in CSE, along with a reputation

for rigor and academic achievement.

“These were the largest factors that brought me to the University

of Minnesota,” she said.

“What I would really like to do when I complete my education is to create a program for high school students in northern Minnesota that focuses on academic, social, physical, and mental well being by incorporating international experiences before college.”

--Megan Rubbelke

With the help of a number of scholarships, including the Richard P. and Judy C. Hokanson Scholarship, Rubbelke began

her quest, throwing herself into a wide array of on- and offcampus

activities, including a stint as president of CSE’s Women

in Math, whose University chapter she helped initiate. But it

wasn’t until she left the country briefly that she found what she

was looking for.

“I really found the kind of community I was seeking in Scotland,”

said Rubbelke, who spent the Spring 2013 semester

studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “I returned

with renewed determination and helped put together

the Women in Math group. This helped me connect and collaborate

with other student groups.”

From those connections, in turn, Rubbelke was invited to be

a student representative in the CSE Women’s Working Group.

This group is not confined to students but is open to CSE faculty

and staff; among its members are a University scholarship coordinator

and an academic advisor.

The group is a networking organization designed to expand

the boundaries of “community.” To date it has staged nonprogrammed

events, such as book discussions and meetand-

greets, but recently, held its first programmed event at a

popular restaurant near the East Bank campus of the University.

“The idea is to start meeting people outside your own department,”

Rubbelke explains. “That can be hard to do, especially

for students in the upper divisions.” This year the group

is planning events that will bring professional women to campus

to give presentations about their careers and careers paths,

among other pending ideas.

In addition to CSE, Rubbelke is also enrolled in a program

in the College of Education that prepares undergraduates to

pursue graduate degrees in education, which is what she plans

to do after completing her degree in mathematics. She has

already been accepted in the M.A. program in education at the


“What I would really like to do when I complete my education

is to create a program for high school students in northern

Minnesota that focuses on academic, social, physical, and

mental well being by incorporating international experiences

before college,” Rubbelke said. “I want to create networks of

students with a greater cultural awareness who are able to use

their experiences throughout school and into their professional

lives to be successful.”