Rondi Gedde, Linnea Olson, Michael Monson and Kari Olson spend a few minutes catching up in the University Center. Says Kari Olson of the six cousins studying at PLU: “I love the shared experience.”
RUN DEEP The Olson-Monson-Gedde cousins make it a family affair WHENEVER ADMISSION COUNSELORS were preparing to visit Brett Monson while he was in high school, they’d look at his application and then, inevitably, do a double take. The five lines under “Who else do you know at PLU” were filled with his parents, his aunts, his uncles and his grandparents. He’d finally start scribbling on the back. “Yeah, I have pretty broad roots at PLU,” junior Brett said while discussing how six students – cousins, brothers and sisters of the Olson-Monson-Gedde-clan – all came to be at PLU at the same time. The first to arrive was Aaron Olson, a business major, who will graduate this year. He was followed by his cousin Michael
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Monson (senior), who was then followed by Michael’s cousin, Brett Monson (junior). Then there are Aaron’s sister, Kari Olson (sophomore), cousin Linnea Olson (freshman), and another cousin, Rondi Gedde (junior). These cousins are all connected by two brothers, the grandparents, who had strong connections to PLU and Lutheran universities. They were Dave Olson, former director of athletics (’68-’96) and his brother Luther Olson, whose son, Steve Olson is now vice president of Development and University Relations at PLU, and father of Aaron and Kari. Steve Olson is also the uncle of Linnea. The Monson-Gedde side of the clan can be traced from Dave Olson’s daughters, Julie ’85 and Jana Olson ’82. Julie is the mother of Michael Monson, and an aunt to Brett. Rondi is Jana Olson’s daughter. Got all this? If you don’t, that’s fine, the cousins say. They are accustomed to the confusion as they explain the lineage over a series of interviews. Despite the family connections to PLU, Aaron, 21, said that coming to PLU wasn’t a slam dunk. He grew up in Washington state, but moved to Minnesota. Ultimately, he wanted to return to the Northwest. So he came by himself to PLU four years ago and quickly grew to love the campus.