Norem Named Commencement Senior Speaker

Hannah Norem will be the senior speaker for Augustana's 2018 commencement

Augustana senior Hannah Norem, a religion, French and government & international affairs major from Houston, Texas, will serve as the senior speaker for the 2018 commencement exercises, set for Saturday, May 19, at the Sioux Falls Arena.

Norem will deliver her address, “Failing Forward,” before 334 graduates who will participate in the undergraduate commencement ceremony (an additional 44 students will graduate in absentia). Augustana will also honor 61 master’s degree graduates (and 104 in absentia) in a graduate commencement ceremony on Friday, May 18, in the Chapel of Reconciliation.

Norem, who will graduate magna cum laude, said her remarks will outline why “our failures create our successes.”

Throughout her time at Augustana, Norem has been an engaged member of the campus community. In addition to her memberships in the Augustana Band and Civitas (the University’s honors program), she has held leadership roles with the Union Board of Governors and the Viking Days Committee; served as a senator for the Augustana Student Association; was a Viking Guide for Welcome Week; served as an Advancement Ambassador; worked in the Writing Center; and served as a tutor for the religion department. She was also involved in the planning and development of the Interfaith Reflection Room on campus.

As a sophomore, Norem earned national recognition when she was selected as one of only 15 contestants from across the nation to participate in the 2016 “Jeopardy!” college tournament. (She advanced to the semifinal round, placing second.) During her senior year, she was named as a member of the Viking Days Royal Court and received the 2018 Covenant Award for Excellence

An Augustana legacy student (her dad is Augustana alumnus Dr. Nathan Norem ’79), Norem credits her parents for instilling in her “a lifelong love of learning.”

When she was five years old, she didn’t wish for toys or a new bike. She wanted a set of encyclopedias. By six, she had memorized all the U.S. presidents, along with facts about each one. And at seven, she dressed up as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for Halloween.

These were all likely moments of foreshadowing.

After graduation, Norem plans to complete a summer internship in the World Hunger Unit of the ELCA Churchwide Office. In the fall, she’ll begin a five-year joint degree program at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and Wake Forest University School of Law. Her dream job is to one day work in the ELCA national advocacy office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.