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Kristinsson '12 helps new international students

August  13, 2012

Hilmir Kristinsson (Augustana Photo Bureau/Mark Marogil)

International students enjoy Olympics party

Augustana's first alumnus from Iceland

headed for the accounting world

For one international student, his decision to come to Augustana in 2008 came down to the letter A.

After spending a year at a Wisconsin boarding school, Iceland's Hilmir Kristinsson knew he wanted to return to the United States, specifically the Midwest, to attend college. He worked in construction in his home country for 18 months to save money. When the time seemed right, he researched colleges on the web, and chose five that "seemed interesting."

"I started applying alphabetically, and that put Augustana first," he said. "Halfway through my second application, I received a postcard from Diane Carnithan in Admissions. She said my scores were good and that I seemed like a good fit, and Augustana would love to have me."

He never finished his application to the second school on his list.

Kristinsson wanted to pursue mathematics at Augustana. After considering engineering and economics, he discovered accounting. As a result of the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals, he knew the demand for auditors was strong. "Once I declared my major, John Delaney and all the accounting faculty were incredibly supportive," he said.

Last May, Kristinsson, who majored in international business as well as accounting, became Augustana's first graduate from Iceland. He now is enrolled in Augustana's Accounting Certificate Program, which will keep him at Augustana through the fall.

Global Ambassador Hilmir Kristinsson '12 delivers the first pitch at a recent River Bandits baseball game. (Augustana Photo Bureau/Zain Dada)

Designed for students planning to take the CPA exam, the Accounting Certificate Program enables students to complete the additional coursework beyond the requirements of Augustana's accounting major that is needed to sit for the CPA exam. During winter term, Kristinsson will intern with KPMG Chicago, which provides audit, tax and advisory services.

Since his sophomore year at Augustana, Kristinsson had served as a Global Ambassador for new international students because he knows what it's like to be in a strange place with no family or friends. Since he is remaining on campus this fall, Jane Tiedge, associate director of international programs, enlisted his help again.

"As a Global Ambassador, one must have compassion, empathy and energy," Tiedge said. "Hilly has that rare ability to meet anyone — from anywhere — and then have the innate sense of just what needs to be done to help a student feel settled and welcome on campus. He becomes more than a student worker helping first-year students... he becomes their friend."

Last week, 27 new international students arrived at Augustana to bring the total of international students on campus to 52, Tiedge said. A series of social activities were planned, including a River Bandits baseball game, where none other than Kristinsson was asked to deliver the first pitch.