One Father’s Lasting Impact by Emily Kjeer
On December 3rd from 7-9 pm, come to the Viking Village in Old Main to play pool, air hockey, and other games, eat food, and support a wonderful scholarship at Bethany. Live music will feature Daniel and John Halvorson. There will be a raffle with prizes including gift cards, as well as a free will donation. All proceeds go to the Peter Kjeer Engineering Scholarship at
Bethany. Bring your friends and enjoy the evening!
How would I describe my dad? I wouldn’t even know where to start. There are so many words I could attribute to him, but none would do justice. If I had to try, I would say three things: humble, genius, and inspiring. My dad’s humility has served as a remarkable example to me in several ways. Not only was he humble despite having many reasons to boast, but he never placed a higher value on one person over another. My dad saw everyone as equal in God’s eyes, and treated everyone with the same respect and love. One of my favorite stories about him comes from when my family lived in Massachusetts for four years. My dad was a graduate student and lab coordinator at Harvard University, working alongside intelligent people and nationally-recognized figures in academia. Despite this, he would greet the president of the department and the janitor of the labs in the same manner. My mom described to me once going to an event at Harvard with my dad, and witnessing him talk to people from all different lines of work with the same enthusiasm and personal greetings. He knew them all by name, and they all knew him. It didn’t matter what “station” each person had.
This was further exemplified to me in recognizing how intelligent my dad was. He could do anything. Literally. From laser-etching a necklace specifically for a movie project my sister and I made to teaching me how to fire a crossbow and then dancing in The Nutcracker with me, I never encountered something that my dad couldn’t tackle—and even if he wasn’t great at it, he never had trouble admitting he needed help. He would treat help from me and my sister as perfectly worthy, rather than ignoring our help because we were his children. My sister would work through his graduate-level assignments with him, while I helped him learn the steps to The Nutcracker or taught him how to move his music from a CD to his iPod. Throughout everything, my dad was appreciative and excited to receive our assistance. If I were to try to list everything my dad could do, I would run out of paper. A few highlights would include his abilities as a teacher, engineer, and problem-solver. He was never too busy to sit down with a student, even one that wasn’t in his classes, and work through problems. I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t actually sleep, because while not only teaching a full-time teaching load, he also created and established the new Engineering Major at Bethany, wrote his own textbook for his classes, organized and revamped the physics labs, and somehow still started building a house for us. Yet even with all these responsibilities, he would always drop what he was doing to chat with anyone.
I’ve taken away many lessons from my dad. I’m sure there are even lessons I haven’t recognized I learned from him yet, but one day I’ll pause and realize that all along, he was influencing me in some way. He’s inspired me to work hard for what I want, but always place others first. To remember that people are more important than things. To trust myself and challenge myself, because he always believed I could do anything. But it doesn’t stop at me. The impact that my dad left on his students goes beyond words. I was too young, growing up, to truly understand the ways my dad was influencing his students, but as I’ve heard stories from my mom in recent years, it’s become more and more clear. Even in the one semester that I attended Bethany while my dad taught here, I saw more firsthand how he helped his students. How he worked with them through any trial, and always brought out the best in them. Despite being taught by him for only one semester, many of his students from that time have told me how much they were impacted by him. It never took my dad long to leave his impression on the people around him.
How would I describe my dad? In a final word: loving. He loved me more than I even knew. The love that he demonstrated for me, my sister, and my mom has since become a lasting example of how to love and be loved.
Bio: Emily Kjeer is an English major at Bethany Lutheran College and serves as the Programs Editor for Inkwell. She is the daughter of Peter Kjeer, who was a professor at Bethany from 2000-2011, before returning to teach for one final semester in 2016. He unexpectedly died of a heart attack on December 3 rd , 2016, but his work and impact at Bethany has continued to live on. Peter’s family established a scholarship in his name, intended for incoming Engineering students who demonstrated strong academic potential and financial need.