2012 Baccalaureate and Commencement Speakers
Rev. Katherine Finegan: 2013 Baccalaureate Speaker
Rev. Katherine Finegan, Assistant to the Bishop, Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Elsa Brule: 2013 Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker
Elsa Brule loves books and putting them together with kids. Children's literacy has become her obsession. She also values community and believes in the power of education to change young lives. And it's clear that she sees the big picture and knows how to get things done.
Internationally and across the U.S., Elsa's vision, hard work, and generosity have enriched the futures of tens of thousands of children. From Michigan's Upper Peninsula and New York City to Southeast Asia and Africa, she champions projects that address illiteracy and promote girls' education.
She has restored nine school libraries in Dickinson County, Michigan. In addition, she has supported the building of scores of libraries and schools, and the publication of dozens of local-language children's books, in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Zambia, and South Africa.
Elsa also recognizes the value of creative thinking. She is a founding sponsor of the Association of Student Artists (ASA) of Dickinson County and Northeast Wisconsin, which promotes and validates the study of art. This spring Elsa and her husband, David, generously funded a multiple-year package of scholarships for students enrolling in the Finlandia University International School of Art & Design.
Elsa is proud of her Finnish heritage. "No one loves blue and white more than I do!" she exclaims, which is why she has recently funded flags and blue and white street banners to help identify Finlandia's campus during this summer's FinnFest USA.
Elsa Brule is among a small group of advisors who serve as special counsel to Finlandia University president Philip Johnson. The Brules reside in Channing, Mich., and New York City. Read more about Elsa Brule.
Erica Payne: 2013 Alumni Speaker
Erica Payne, a native of Crystal Falls, Mich., graduated summa cum laude from Finlandia University in 2007, completing a bachelor of arts in rural human services. In 2010 she was awarded a juris doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan, and she was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 2011.
Erica is employed by Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Chilman & Greenlee, P.C., of Marquette and Houghton, where she a general practice attorney with a diverse background in the law that includes real estate, estate planning, probate, and civil matters. She is a civil and domestic relations mediator with additional training as a permanency planning mediator.
Erica was recently elected vice president of the Finlandia Alumni Board. She is a member the Marquette County Bar Association and a member and officer of the Zonta Club of Marquette. Erica is a mentor for the Northern Michigan University Student Leader Fellowship Program and a volunteer mediator for the Marquette-Alger Resolution Service.
Eric Hinsch is the Finlandia University Class of 2013 Student Representative. He completes a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in fiber and fashion design, summa cum laude, this spring. Eric is high-energy, positive, and productive. He has been exceptionally active on campus and in the community during his three years in Hancock. "I can't not be busy with something," he notes. A returning adult learner-a description he prefers to "non-traditional student''-Eric says he appreciates the diverse student population at Finlandia, he finds the Copper Country an accepting community, and he feels that Finlandia faculty and staff have been flexible in helping him meet his goals as an adult learner.
This fall Eric will begin a graduate degree program in wood science and engineering at Oregon State University, Corvallis, where he'll explore the direct application of fungal pigment onto textiles, a process called spalting. When asked about his career plans, Eric replies that he doesn't think that way anymore. But he does have a dream. "Ideally, I'd like to own a yarn shop and teach fiber classes there," he says, describing a two-story building with the shop on the ground floor and his home on the second. He'd also like to teach college classes. Read more about Eric Hinsch.