I can remember it like it was yesterday—freshman welcome weekend, summer of 2014.

I was equally excited and nervous about what was in store for me at Concordia. I remember walking across campus from my dorm in Augsburg, past the chapel, to the cafeteria and thinking about my goals for my college experience: earn my degree, build professional and personal experience, and try to make a few new friends along the way.

Little did I know how rich and life-changing my time at Concordia would be. From the first semester on, God placed amazing people, beautiful places, and an uncommon purpose in my life in a way that completely erased the worries of those first days on campus – and set me on an unforgettable journey that far exceeded my expectations.


From friends and teammates to professors and mentors, the relationships I made at Concordia are something I will treasure for the rest of my life. What I hoped to achieve over years’ time at CUW happened within a few short weeks – I found a warm and welcoming campus culture and formed close friendships right away. Speaking of close friends – my best friend and younger sister Annie attended CUW as well, and we never got tired of being asked, “Are you two twins?” (We had some fun with that one.) With each semester came a new set of classmates who would become colleagues, and as a late-blooming college athlete (Women’s Triathlon) I was blessed to be part of a talented group of girls who bonded in a way that only 5am swim practices can bond you. My professors challenged me and believed in me from day one and have continued to support me in my early career.


The CUW campus is a remarkable destination. In addition to the mix of historic and brand new academic, residential, and student life buildings, the stunning setting on the Lake Michigan shoreline is truly breathtaking. Concordia’s beautiful campus became a second home to me as I created memories attached to places that became deeply meaningful. I took countless walks on the bluff and along the shoreline, ran “the look” around campus and down Lakeshore Drive, worshiped and sang along with choirs in the Chapel of Christ Triumphant, and spent hours upon hours studying in the Library. Off campus, the North Shore suburbs and the vibrant city of Milwaukee were like a big backyard. I loved the small-community feel of Concordia with close access to the opportunities and fun a big city has to offer.


As a university that’s grounded in the gospel and saturates the student experience in the historic Christian faith, Concordia helped equip me to live a life of purpose. Going to college at CUW was a transformational experience – and as I navigated significant changes during these years, the Concordia environment provided a safe and supportive space to carefully consider my life and career path. I had the chance to learn, grow, explore, and discover my professional potential while being reminded of our ultimate purpose – to love and serve Christ in the church and the world.

Being part of the Concordia family has enriched my life in ways far beyond the short list of objectives that I set for myself as an incoming student. Now, as a (proud) alumnus, I can look back and see that the people, places and purpose that I encountered at this university are threads that are when into my post-college life – and I wouldn’t trade that gift for anything.

—Mary (Karsten) Pellicano graduated in 2018 from Concordia with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and an MBA. Shortly after graduation, she landed a job at Epic, one of Wisconsin’s largest private employers and a leader in healthcare software development. She now works at FarWell, an advisory firm with locations in Madison and Milwaukee, as a Project Manager. She is married to Allex Pellicano.

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