Local teacher and traveler memorialized by scholarship

Maxine said Joshua was enthusiastic about traveling from a young age, the two of them shown here in an old photo looking over a book entitled, “Travel Basics.” (Mike Munzenrider/Bulletin)

Maxine Haglund-Blommer and her husband, Dan Blommer, established a scholarship fund through the University of Minnesota in their sons’ names.

It’s been a decade since Joshua Haglund, a Mounds View High School grad, avid traveler and teacher, was killed. On May 17, 2004, Joshua, 33, was attacked in his apartment in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where he worked at a university teaching English.

Maxine Haglund-Blommer, Joshua’s mother and a Shoreview resident, said the circumstances surrounding his death are murky and that the case is officially unsolved, and likely never will be. However, his memory lives on through a scholarship that supports students studying abroad established in Joshua’s name through the University of Minnesota, his alma mater.

Joshua caught the travel bug early, according to his mother.

“He’d always send for travel brochures. The mailbox was full—he was ‘Joshua Haglund, Travel Agency,’” Haglund-Blommer said.

Haglund-Blommer said the trips quickly piled up—Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico—and soon, Joshua, who began traveling with his mom, started venturing out on his own.
“Everywhere he went he said, ‘Mom, you have to come here.’”

Following his graduation from Mounds View High School, Joshua went to the University of Minnesota where he earned a degree in political science, then furthered his education in Toronto where he earned a masters of education in second language education at the Institute for Studies in Education.

Job opportunities in Toronto dried up because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and later, the outbreak of the SARS virus, both of which interrupted the flow of foreign students he would teach there.

Looking for work elsewhere, Joshua found the School for International Training program, which led to his placement in Armenia, where he arrived in 2003.

As a means to remember Joshua, his family established the scholarship, which awards two students a year $750 each. The scholarship gives preference to those studying in Australia, Canada, Japan and Thailand, among other places.

In 2011, Joshua’s older brother, James Haglund, also a traveler and teacher, died in his sleep due to complications from epilepsy, at his home in Hawaii, where he’d lived and taught junior high school for ten years. The scholarship has since been renamed the Joshua and James Haglund Memorial Peace Scholarship.

Melinda Marquardt, a 22-year-old graduating senior at the U of M, was the 2012-2013 recipient of the scholarship and used the money it provided to pay her way to study abroad.
“[It helped] to pay for my way to and from Japan,” where she studied, Marquardt said. “I am very grateful for it.”

Apropos to the scholarship, Marquardt said she was returning to Japan following graduation in order to teach English. After that, she said, she has a rough idea of what she plans to do next.
“I hope to go elsewhere and continue my traveling by getting a job in the future that incorporates work abroad,” Marquardt said.
“The scholarship should go on forever,” Haglund-Blommer said. “I think that it’s a legacy thing, it’s a good thing.”

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.


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