Donors raise $10.96 million for international and off-campus study

Oles at Machu Picchu as part of the Peruvian Medical Experience in January 2018
Oles at Machu Picchu as part of the Peruvian Medical Experience in January 2018

Through For the Hill and Beyond, St. Olaf’s comprehensive campaign, donors are helping to lower student costs, create new program models, and increase equity in participation for international and off-campus study — as of July 31, donors have generously given $10.96 million to support St. Olaf’s study programs and student access. Last year, gifts helped 496 Oles study off-campus; this number will grow in the years ahead.

Gifts through For the Hill and Beyond are increasing aid to help Oles study abroad.

Mists closed in as nursing major Erin Nemetz ’19 made her way to Machu Picchu last January. Quietly she thought about the millions who walked the same trail — it made her think about home.

“For me, being in Peru affirmed I want to work as a nurse,” saysNemetz. “There is also so much I can do on the way.”

Nemetz and 17 of her fellow Oles were in Peru as part of St. Olaf’s Peruvian Medical Experience. Over Interim, they worked with local and volunteer or nonprofit providers — many whom are alumni — to set up and work in clinics in municipal orphanages and Andean mountain communities.

The program is one of 123 St. Olaf offers in 43 countries worldwide. Combining academic and experiential learning with self-reflection, Oles gain life-changing experiences that last far beyond the Hill.


“These opportunities are transformational. They foster academic engagement, vocational discernment, intercultural development, and personal growth. Oles come back seeing themselves and the world in a different way.”

— Jodi Malmgren ’92, Director, International and Off-Campus Studies


This potential for impact drives St. Olaf’s leadership — it outpaces every other baccalaureate college in the U.S. by the number of students who study abroad. Yet the opportunity cost is high. In 2017–18 it averaged $2,312 to $4,043 more than studying on campus, with Interim programs averaging highest.

Oles outside the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru
Oles outside the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru

Through For the Hill and Beyond, donors are helping to lower student costs, create new program models, and increase equity in participation. Since the campaign launch in 2014, nearly five times as many Oles are receiving support to study off-campus.

Biology major Neetij Krishnan ’20 learned more about patients he supported as a Spanish translator. He plans to be a pediatric oncologist.

“Some of the orphans had heartbreaking stories but also wishes, joys, and bright personalities, like any child,” Krishnan says. “Their happiness was inspiring. Our work wasn’t just about diagnoses, but creating genuine relationships that support effective care.”

Doug Tate ’70 launched the program in 2005 with Professor Emeritus of Biology Ted Johnson — alumni providers return every year. Their continued work is one of many impacts Oles have made globally.

“I see myself going back too,” says Nemetz.