Three sisters

Scholarship will support teachers in early childhood education

It’s not surprising that sisters Mona, Camilla, and JoEllen Langguth all attended the University of Minnesota. As children, the three lived next door to Memorial Stadium, with a popcorn wagon parked in their front yard during home football games. Mona and Camilla, only 16 months apart, cherish memories of attending the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School.

The Langguth sisters in the 1940s, left to right, JoEllen, Camilla, and Mona
The Langguth sisters in the 1940s, left to right, JoEllen, Camilla, and Mona

The sisters followed a long line of family members who attended the U. Their father, Karl, BS ’27, and Langguth sisters Alice and Ruth all earned degrees at the U. So did their mother, Ellen, BA ’27, and her six siblings. Their uncle, alumnus Arthur Peterson, BA ’26, established an endowed scholarship. The sisters’ spouses graduated from the U, too.

The College of Education and Human Development was the alma mater of all three sisters, whose paths took various directions. Mona Walz (BA, BS ’52, MA ’56) became a real estate broker and community activist in Michigan. Camilla Reiersgord (BS ’55, JD ’70) went to law school and practiced in the Twin Cities. JoEllen Hurr (BA ’58) has been active in the community, including serving on the boards of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District and the Freshwater Society.

In response to growing evidence that a high-quality preschool education is critical for children’s future success, the three sisters came together. Increasing emphasis among educators and the public about the importance of early childhood education as well as Head Start research and follow-up studies made an endowment for preschool teachers an easy choice.

Last year, Mona, Camilla, and JoEllen created the Langguth Sisters Scholarship to support students preparing to become early childhood education teachers. The first recipient is Nora Waaraniemi, an MEd student whose interests are in teaching and public advocacy.

“Our family has a long history with the U,” says Mona Walz. “It seemed like a natural step at this point in our lives to honor this legacy and establish an endowment fund that reflects our values to support early childhood education.”

The sisters unanimously agreed to use their birth name for the scholarship, recognizing not only their own bond but their whole family’s remarkable legacy.

Story by Lynn Slifer | Photo courtesy of the Langguth family | Fall 2019