Try to imagine the first quarter of beginning Spanish during the summer term on a community college campus in hot and humid Minnesota,” said Carolyn Glesne, a former student of Professor Emeritus Anne Siren Levig. “She made us excited about conjugating verbs, delighted us with stories of Spanish culture, and converted our taste buds with Spanish food.”
For 35 years, Levig influenced students and colleagues through her enthusiasm for languages and cultures.
On Saturday, May 19, Levig, a retired faculty member of the Cambridge Campus of Anoka Ramsey Community College, was honored as a 2012 Outstanding Alumni at the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences Awards Banquet.
Levig received a B.A. in English, French, and German, while also participating in the UW Honors Program.
“Participation in the Arts and Sciences Honors Program allowed me choice and flexibility in curriculum,” Levig said. “The English, French, and German classes stimulated my curiosity about several other cultures, as did the literature and history classes.”
Levig continued her education at UW, earning an M.A. in English and German. She later received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in second language instruction. Levig’s commitment to teaching community college students is admirable. Over the course of her stellar teaching career, Levig taught six different languages—French, Spanish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, and English. She also taught journalism and humanities, inspiring students to learn a language and culture different from their own. “She empowered us, she expanded our worlds and she never quit demanding excellence from us,” said Glesne.
Traveling ranks high on Levig’s priorities, whether it be participating in visiting professor programs in Sweden and Denmark or taking road trips with her students across the United States. Levig established an exchange program in 1997 between Cambridge Campus and a college in Sweden, providing an opportunity for community college students, as well as faculty members, to study abroad. Throughout Levig’s career, she frequently led student programs to Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden, Peru, Guatemala, and Quebec, as well as places across the United States.
Levig’s belief in education contributed to the creation of an honors program at the Cambridge campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College. She actively participated in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, by serving as an advisor, a coordinator and a national advisor officer. Her success within Phi Thetta Kappa has led to many awards and honors, including Outstanding Phi Theta Kappa Advisor and Most Distinguished Regional Coordinator. Her chapters also have been awarded honors such as the Outstanding Chapter in the Nation at Fergus Falls Community College.
Levig’s students fondly remember her zeal for student success and her ability to push them to their next level. “Anne inspired her students to achieve at greater heights than any of us could ever imagine,” comments former student Donna Magdanz.
“Inside and outside of the classroom, Levig’s positive attitude attracted people and her mischievous nature was captivating,” said Glesne.
While living in Cambridge, Minn., Levig developed a community Swedish Festival and a Swedish club to learn about the early Swedish settlers in that area. She shared her dedication to understanding other cultures by leading a Girl Scout Troop, developing a St. Lucia program for high school senior girls, and starting a “college for kids” program that included foreign language and culture study.
Even after her retirement, Levig continues to give to her community by tutoring students at an elementary school in Arizona and establishing a Pi Beta Phi Alumni Club, while serving as the president of the Scandinavia Club in Sun City West. She also is a life member of the American Association of University Women.
She continues to participate in the Laramie and UW community by serving as a lifetime member of the Laramie Plains Museum Association, as well as continuing to support the Siren Family Memorial Scholarship. “She understands the importance of civic involvement,” said Mary Guthrie.
Levig has dedicated her life to the fundamental principles of a liberal arts degree and, through this commitment, she has aided students and faculty alike to appreciate the international world in which we live and participate.
“She has made a difference in the lives of thousands of community college students,” notes Guthrie. “She changed their lives by giving them an appreciation of other cultures and inspiring them to be better students and citizens of the world. Her willingness to take on new challenges and her commitment to lifelong learning are extraordinary.”