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Alumna Lori Ogren: Improving Lives in Africa

UMD Alumna Lori Ogren with Florence Ishimwe  
Lori Ogren with Florence Ishimwe, one of two children she sponsors in Africa. Photo courtesy of Lori Orgen  

She's enjoyed laughter with teammates and cheers from crowds, but it's the songs that alumna Lori Ogren heard in Africa that linger most in her memories.

At UMD, she excelled in basketball, volleyball, and softball. After graduating in 1986 with a physical/health education degree and a minor in coaching, she took part in six Olympic Festivals and competed in team handball in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. She was inducted into UMD's Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 2010, she traveled to Rwanda and Lesotho with professional golfer Betsy King and others from King's charitable organization, Golf Fore Africa. For Ogren, the trip was transformative.

There she heard the songs that have stayed with her: songs of joy that welcomed her in towns and villages, songs of gratitude from caregivers who received HIV supplies, and songs of prayer. "The harmonies reach right into your soul," she recalled.

She spent time with the people. "It was amazing to hear stories from the grandmothers who had survived the genocide in Rwanda." She also met two little girls whom she sponsors.  "When you sponsor a child, you can see the difference you are making. The whole family benefits," she said.

Perhaps because she teaches physical education in a high school in California, it's the kids she remembers most. "Children are the same around the world, filled with hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow." Ogren wants to return. "My feet are here, but my heart is in Africa."

UMD Those who can, Duluth

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, March 2013


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