Monday Moments with President Bergman: March 11, 2019Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College employees each week.
Posted on March 11th, 2019 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Last Tuesday, while attending a dinner before a lecture, a first-year student asked me a simple question:  “President Bergman, what was your college major?”  It took me back to my early days of career exploration and caused me to reflect on where I came from — and what I wish for all of our students.

When I went to Princeton University, the field of biomedical engineering was very new. It was so new, in fact, that most universities had not yet established a major in this field. I remember being fascinated by the innovations that could arise at the intersection of engineering and medicine, and I decided to major in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with a professor who was studying how to make materials more compatible with blood, so that they could be used in blood-contacting devices such as heart valves, artificial hearts, or artificial blood vessels. This was an important research topic, since blood is designed to clot whenever it comes into contact with a foreign material.

Sitting there Tuesday night, explaining my educational path to that curious student, I was struck all over again by the people and events in my college days that led me to become a biomedical engineer — professors who were visibly excited about a new discipline, the intellectual challenges of applying engineering principles to medical problems, and an opportunity to investigate a research question that could lead to novel biomaterials for use in humans. I did not know it at the time, but these early opportunities set me on the path to work for Medtronic.

I hope that our students have the same opportunity that I did as a college student — an opportunity to work with a mentor who encourages them to see beyond what’s right in front of them, to prepare for a future that they know is out there but can’t quite picture yet.

That’s what each of us does every day. We help students explore their interests and excite them about future possibilities.

I became an engineer because I wanted to solve problems. I enjoyed the process of learning, generating ideas, and creating something new. In many ways, that’s the same work I do as president. It’s also what all of us do in our work with students every day. We provide the framework to support and challenge them as they learn and grow.

This week, reflect on your own path. How can you use lessons from your own life to help a student build theirs?

Until next week, keep up the good work, Gusties!

With respect,



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