Getting ready to go work the St Luke’s Orthopedic Sport Medicine booth on Hockey Day Minnesota.

Justin Agne is a non-traditional student who transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth this past Fall 2015 semester.

Prior to UMD, he attended Itasca Community College, where he graduated in the Fall of 2007. He also graduated from Lake Superior College in the Spring of 2009. After graduation, he joined the military as part of the Army Guard.

He’s a Medic and has been in the Army Guard since 2010.

Justin is originally from Jacksonville, Florida but moved to Duluth in 1998. He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 2005. He has been married for 4 years and lives with his wife on 10 acres out near Island Lake. His favorite thing about Duluth is the countryside. You have enough space, but are not hours away from everything.

Justin is currently majoring in Exercise Science with a track in Exercise & Sport Science. He transferred to UMD to complete his Bachelor’s degree and then he plans to apply for Physician’s Assistant (PA) school, possibly through the military. His favorite thing about UMD? The professors. And how you’re recognized as a person and not just another number.

Here’s Justin’s story!


A big-time fan of fishing, Justin’s trying start an annual fishing trip tradition to Lake of the Woods. Shown here!

What was your reason for choosing UMD?

My main motivation was to complete a 4-year degree. It was also close to home with a lot of opportunities. Even if Exercise Science was not the right track for me, there are so many different academic paths that I could still pursue here.

What was your transfer experience like?

A majority of my credits from Itasca, LSC, and the military were accepted for transfer, so that was really nice. Everyone I’ve worked with was super helpful and answered all of my questions. It was nice to have the opportunity to go the tutoring center without an appointment and get help. There’s a really good support system and people were available to help me when I needed it.

What was it like your first time on campus?

It was a bit overwhelming because I had only attended small colleges and had never had a class in a lecture hall. It was also strange to ask questions to Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants even though the class is taught by a professor. Although I was overwhelmed, everyone was friendly and since I asked for help, things went smoothly and I was able to transition easily.

Justin, shaking hands with Major General Nash during a recognition ceremony of his accomplishments as an Army Medic while on deployment to Iraq/Kuwait.

Did anybody talk to you about internships or job shadow opportunities?

Yes, I was told about summer internships opportunities almost right away. They are also paid internships, so that is always a nice perk. They gave me a yellow slip to fill out and turn in after they had told us about them. There are opportunities in Duluth, as well as the Twin Cities, so if I wanted to stay in Duluth, I could apply for that and not have to relocate.

Do you have an on-campus or off-campus job?

Yes, I work off-campus for St. Luke’s Hospital. I have worked there for 7 years total and the last year and a half I have worked for the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Department. I really enjoy working there!

What has been your favorite class so far at UMD?

This semester, Spring 2016, I am taking a class called Motor Learning & Development. Typically classes teach you general skills and it doesn’t really apply to what you are doing otherwise. This class, however, has been very applicable to the things I do at my job at St Luke’s hospital and keep my attention as I am very interested in this topic.

Justin’s first EVER half marathon, which he finished in 1:53! “Gotta stay healthy and fit!”

Who has been your favorite professor so far at UMD?

Professor Mark Nierengarten has been my favorite so far. He is very personable and he presents the material in a way that is very easy to understand. Although we had about 80 people in our class, he would recognize me in the hallway and acknowledge me. If I had questions, he would always be available during office hours and sometimes even outside of his office hours to help me out.

What has been your most memorable moment at UMD so far?

I made the Dean’s List my first semester at UMD! After being out of school for almost 5 years, it was a great accomplishment to come back and excel.

What was your biggest fear about transferring and going back to school? What did you do to overcome that fear?

I felt like I was “too old to learn” and that it would be hard to retain any of the information that was being presented to me. To overcome that, I put in lots of hours of studying. I am also fortunate that my off-campus job at St Luke’s hospital has people who are incredible resources for me, too.

“This is what got me back to school. I took this picture and spoke with a good friend about what it really meant to us. she is actually back in school now too!”

What would you have done differently when you were in high school and were looking at colleges to attend?

Honestly, I would have come to UMD right away. The reason that I didn’t was because the size was overwhelming to me. Since I moved to Grand Rapids, MN and away from home, there were a lot of distractions. I also had to find a new job since I wasn’t staying in Duluth at the job that I had. It was a big re-adjustment when I moved back to Duluth after being away.

Do you have any advice that you would like to share with other students who may be looking to transfer to UMD?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Yes, people will be in their offices looking at their computer screens and busy. But that’s the way it is. If you ask them for help, they’ll help you.