Gusties Get More: Meet Shane Ellanson ’20What can Gustavus grads do with their degree? Just about anything.
Posted on May 30th, 2024 by

“Gusties Get More” is a continuing series of profiles examining the many paths Gustavus alums have taken since graduation.

Q: Gustavus graduation year/hometown/current location/profession

  • Graduation year: 2020
  • Hometown: Lake Crystal, MN
  • Current Location: St. Paul, MN
  • Profession: Senior Engagement Associate at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Q: How did you choose your major(s)?

  • I had known that I wanted to pursue a Political Science degree since I was in 8th grade. My junior high social studies class had an assignment that asked us to follow the 2008 presidential election and color in the map blue or red as the states were called the night of the election. I stayed up way later than I should have watching the news so that I could do the assignment and found how interesting the issues, elections, and politics in general were to me. The next morning, I realized that almost none of my classmates felt the same way. That was a big wake-up call to me that this is what I should pursue, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to know!

Q: How has your major(s) influenced/assisted your career so far?

  • I found the field that I ended up getting into, non-profit fundraising, simply because of my personal passion for this kind of work. But my major [Political Science] and my minor [History] helped me immensely in securing this position and being promoted within a year of my start date. First, political science helped me to learn how to effectively communicate a point and speak/present in front of groups. I use this on a weekly basis in my career when I speak to sponsoring groups and corporate partners to try and convince them to support our work financially or increase their giving. My major courses gave me the skills to present a convincing argument in a professional and productive manner. My minor courses did something similar, but with the written word instead of the spoken one. History classes required me to do much more writing and helped me improve my professional communication skills, which I use everyday by writing things like newsletters and emails to volunteers and other stakeholders.

Q: How did Gustavus (and the liberal arts) prepare you to “make your life count” and get where you want to go, personally and professionally?

  • Gustavus prepared me to “make my life count” professionally by teaching me how to market myself and the degree that I decided to pursue to potential employers, as I noted above. Personally, Gustavus prepared me to “make my life count” by connecting me to my best friends and some of the best people I have ever met in my life and still talk to on a nearly daily basis. I learned what real friendship is in college and how a real friend makes you feel loved and valued. Gustavus also prepared me personally by giving me some of the best memories that I have. Not a day goes by that I don’t look back fondly at my time on the Hill!

Q: Was there anyone specific at Gustavus, in or out of the classroom, who influenced you?

  • Many people at Gustavus influenced me and set me on the best path possible to start my career. However, two professors stand out in my mind: Chris Gilbert (Political Science) and Greg Kaster (History). These two really helped to shape me in their own way. Chris was my academic advisor and was always supportive and gave great advice. One of those pieces of advice was to pursue the Washington Internship Institute, a study-away opportunity I completed my senior year that allowed me to live and intern in Washington DC and explore my favorite city in the country. And Professor Kaster is the sole reason that I pursued a History minor. After taking an introductory History course with him, he asked me if I had any interest in completing the requirements for a History major or minor, and after we met in his office later that week, I was convinced I would enjoy taking more classes. Greg made class so enjoyable and was the best advocate I’ve ever met for pursuing a degree in the field you enjoy and not just thinking about what will make you the most money. I learned a lot from him and owe a lot of my professional development to him.

Q: What jobs did you have after graduation but before this one?

  • The only other position that I have held since graduation is an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Montana in Butte, MT from December, 2020–December, 2021, which I loved.

Q: Where do you see your career progressing from here?

  • I don’t really know what to expect for the future, but I certainly hope to see myself grow professionally and continue to gain more responsibilities in my current field and with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. I truly love my job and the field I have chosen for myself. This job allows me to get paid to make a difference in my community and help people achieve their dream of owning their own home. But I still have a strong passion for politics and have certainly not ruled getting involved in that world more as I get older.

Q: Is there anything you miss or remember fondly about Gustavus?

  • There are many aspects of life on the Hill that I miss! Having my friends so close by, eating in the Caf, playing basketball at Lund…but I really miss the people that make Gustavus so special. The faculty and staff! The relationships I built with my professors, the librarians, the staff in the Cafeteria and across the campus were so special! I felt like a part of the family on campus and couldn’t walk for more than a couple of minutes without seeing someone that I knew and stopping to chat.



Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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