A Gift from the Heart
Irene Nygaard Arens '58 received a Christmas gift that keeps on giving.
By Suzy Frisch
Opening gifts with her family on Christmas morning in 2006, Irene Nygaard Arens '58 had quite a shock. Inside the card from her husband, Al, was a description of an endowed scholarship fund established in her name at St. Olaf College. "It just blew me away," recalls Irene.
"I could not believe it. I had to put it down and pick it up and look at it, and put it down and look at it again. I said, 'My goodness, what did you do?' and then I started to cry," she says. "It was an amazing Christmas gift."
Not only was Irene surprised at her husband's generosity, she was touched that he endowed the scholarship fund at St. Olaf despite his long career as an accounting professor at Michigan State University. "It was awesome," she says. "I love the university here, too, but Al gave it to the college that's closest to my heart."
Al Arens contacted Grace Schroeder Scott '72, Senior Principal Gifts Officer - Planned Giving, for assistance in making a special endowment gift in Irene's name. For Al, the endowed scholarship fund was a beautiful way to honor his wife's history and deep connection with St. Olaf for much of her life. As a young girl, Irene had listened to her older cousins reminisce about going to school there. And her pastor of 30 years—who both baptized and married the Arens—had sung in the St. Olaf Choir.
When the time came to decide where to go to college, young Irene, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, naturally chose St. Olaf. Majoring in sociology and Norwegian, she calls her time on the Hill "incredibly enriching." Irene enjoyed learning in an environment where she felt completely at home, and she is thankful for the opportunity to spend more than a year studying in Oslo, Norway.
After graduating, Irene enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a master's degree in library science and also met her husband. Together, Al and Irene raised three children, one of whom attended St. Olaf.
Since they could not return to campus for her 50th class reunion this year, Irene and Al will celebrate by attending the St. Olaf Christmas Festival in early December. They look forward to meeting the students who benefit from The Irene Nygaard Arens Endowed Scholarship. Irene is pleased to help others attend the college that has meant so much to her throughout her life. She wants to make it easier for students to attend St. Olaf, especially those who enhance campus life and serve as ambassadors of the college by singing in the St. Olaf Choir.
Al and Irene recently visited with Grace about the growing need for endowment funding to provide student financial aid. Irene said, "We know how amazing it is and how wonderful it feels to help students directly through scholarships."
Copyright © St. Olaf College, All rights reserved.
The information in this Web site is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income tax include federal taxes only. Individual state taxes and/or state law may impact your results.