Name: Luke Smith
Major: Medical Biology
Hometown: Groton, SD
Position on board: President
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I love AWOL because my AWOL experiences have opened my eyes in many ways to the world around me. AWOL inspires me to become more engaged in my community and to learn about the many different issues that affect people in the US and elsewhere. I also value the many friendships I have made through AWOL.
Past AWOL experience: 2016 Spring Break Trip to Rosebud, SD; Site leader for 2017 Spring Break Trip to Springfield, MO, Executive Board Secretary
Name: Ashley Brage
Hometown: Watertown, SD
Position on board: Vice President of Site Leader Relations
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I wanted to be able to give back to my community, but also wanted to grow and show other people why volunteering is important and how we can all benefit from it.
Past AWOL experience: Participant Winter Break 2017 to Missoula, Montana for Suicide Awareness & Site Leader Winter Break 2018 to Minneapolis Minnesota for Refugee & Women Services & Site Leader for Summer Break 2019 to Appalachian Trail for Conservation.
Name: Claire Hoogland
Position on board: Vice President of Site Leader Training
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I first became involved with AWOL through a freshmen opportunity called Serve and Learn, and I immediately fell in love. What AWOL stands for is more than just service, it’s about becoming a better person and active citizen. AWOL has helped me grow personally and professionally!
Past AWOL experience: Serve and Learn 2016 & 2017, Pine Ridge Spring 2017, Sioux Falls Habitat for Humanity Alternative Weekend Fall 2017, MLK Day of Service Spring 2018
Name: Abbey Hilt
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Rapid City, SD
Position on board: Creative Director
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: Service has always been an important priority in my life. I wanted to be engaged in my community when I came to college, and AWOL has provided me a great opportunity to learn about my community and make a difference!
Past AWOL experience: Days of Service, Fundraising, Alternative Weekend Site Leader
Name: Jennifer Kenaston
Hometown: Miller, SD
Position on board: Secretary
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I got involved with AWOL because I was really looking for something to do during break. After seeing the countless posters hanging up, I decided to apply to go on one of the trips. On my trip I got to meet many new people that I probably would have never met without the opportunity to go to Detroit with them. While I was on the trip, I got to make a lot of great memories that inspired me to stick with AWOL as an organization. Being a part of something that can make an impact locally and internationally is a rare opportunity in a campus environment.
Past AWOL experience: 2017 Winter Break to Detroit, Michigan with a focus on Veterans; Volunteer for preparation of spaghetti feed
Name: Chesney Arend
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Emery, SD
Position on board: Director of Finance and Fundraising
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I love AWOL because I think it’s an awesome way to not only educate students on prominent social issues within the United States, but it also gives students hands-on experiences working with individuals affected by those social issues. AWOL is the perfect way to challenge yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone while making a difference!
Past AWOL experience: AWOL Winter break trip participant for Orlando 2015-2016, New Orleans 2016-2017, and Nashville 2017-2018 trips!
Name: Josie Galles
Hometown: Le Mars, IA
Position on the AWOL Board: Director of Community Engagement
Why I love/got involved with AWOL: I have a serious passion for serving others and believe it is a moral duty to do so. AWOL is a great organization that approaches service learning. Not only do we dive into the culture and service on the trips, but we are able to learn from then and take ideas back to our communities.
Past AWOL Experience: I was a participant on a trip to Pine Ridge my freshman year and a site leader to Nashville my sophomore year.
Position on AWOL Board: Advisor
Position in the CAGE: Assistant Director, Academic Engagement
Hometown: I don’t really have one anymore, but I do have a home state: Nebraska! (Grand Island is where I spent most of my pre-college years.) Vermillion has been my home since September 2015.
Why you love AWOL: Civic engagement is an extremely important skill for people to develop. Like exercise, it’s something that can become habitual if we make the effort. I find it exciting to see and hear about how AWOL experiences have helped so many USD students in their journey towards active citizenship. It feels great to know that many AWOL alumni will carry these experiences into the communities they become part of after graduation.
What are you most excited about for next year? Alternative weekends! This year the AWOL board has a vision aimed to increase skill development of our alternative weekend site-leaders and create stronger community partner ties in Vermillion and the surrounding communities.