Bridging the Gap: 2023-24 ASA President, Vice President Focusing on Connection

By Keeley Meier '20 | February 21, 2024
Lauren & Henry AU Sign

Augustana Student Association (ASA) President Lauren Teller ‘24 and Vice President Henry Sule ‘24 have different backgrounds and nearly opposite Augustana stories. These differences, though, have made their partnership and administration stronger, as the pair focuses on transparency and connection.

Sule, an international student from Jos, Nigeria, said that Augustana found him when he was searching for colleges.

“Augustana sent me an email first. I had no clue what South Dakota or Sioux Falls was,” said Sule, a finance and computer information systems double major. “I had an interview with an admission counselor, and I felt very appreciated and comfortable. I got the sense that everyone I would meet at Augustana would have that same energy.”

Teller, a Sioux Falls native, had a different introduction to Augustana.


“I really knew what Augustana was,” Teller said. “I would come here for camps, and the swim team I was on for my whole childhood practiced at the Elmen Center. My mom went here, too, as a non-traditional student, so I would go to classes with her as an elementary schooler on days I didn't have school.”

Henry & Lauren on Mikkelson Library Stairs

However, universities in South Dakota, let alone Sioux Falls, were not on Teller’s radar as she made plans to become more independent. Yet, her parents required at least one South Dakota college visit, so she chose Augustana.


“The tour guide was so welcoming, and meeting with my admission counselor — she presented Augie as, ‘We know that it's not a good fit for everybody, but we just want you to have the facts and make your own decision.’ I went on to tour other schools, and it seemed like all of the other schools just wanted me to want them, and Augie felt like, ‘We want you. We realize that you have a lot of great things to contribute to this community.’”


When Teller — an English, government & international affairs and Spanish triple major — arrived at Augustana as a student, she jumped into the community, particularly ASA. She served as a sophomore and junior senator before deciding to run for president her senior year. And, she knew just who to ask to be her running mate. 


“I was asking my friends who would be a good teammate if I were to run, and (one of my friends) said Henry, and I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s the perfect person!’” Teller remembered.

ASA Executive Team 2023-24

But, Teller didn’t receive an immediate “yes” when she reached out to who she hoped would be ASA’s next vice president. Sule served as ASA’s technical director during his junior year — a position he ran for only after great encouragement from 2022-23 ASA President and Vice President Sara Alhasnawi ‘23 and Tsegab Arega ‘23. 

“I was a little intimidated to do it at first because this was an executive-level position, and I'd never been in ASA before,” Sule said. “They wanted me to go all the way to the top, and I was like, ‘This seems like a little much.’


“Then, Lauren reached out to me in 2023, asking if I wanted to run with her for our senior year, and I thought, again, this would be way too much,” Sule continued. “I'd never been in ASA at the political level, and I was going to go all the way to the top again. I ultimately decided (to do it) because I thought it'd be a good opportunity to engage with the student body one last time before I graduate.”


Sule also said there was no better person to lead with than Teller and her ASA experience and background. 


“Lauren is a really compassionate person, and I saw it as important to have compassionate leadership for the student body,” Sule said. “Honestly, I saw a good leader in Lauren, and I wanted to be there for the ride.”


Teller had similar praise for her running mate, citing their different personalities as a strength of their working relationship. 


“Henry and I work really well together,” said Teller. “He grounds me in a lot of ways, and I think we have different styles of communication, but it works out really well.”


Bridging the Gap

Engagement has been the focus of Teller and Sule’s administration, especially as they faced a year of transition with advisors and budgets. Their aim, they said, has been to hear the priorities of the different areas of campus. The pair has also been working to bridge the gap between ASA and the student body that they said has been present for many years.

“A lot of the work that we're doing as an executive team, especially the human & public resources (H&PR) committee, is making ASA more digestible for the average student,” Teller said. “We leaned into Instagram and are considering different ways we can do outreach.”


ASA 2023-24“What we wanted to do with ASA is (provide) more information or encourage people to go to things, like the mid-year update or town halls when we host them — just creating an avenue for students to feel a little more connected with resources,” Sule added.


Even with their increased transparency and outreach, Sule and Teller said they are most proud of their senate and its accomplishments.


“It's not so much what I've done, but the team that we have,” said Sule. “Prince (Adhikari ‘26, technical director) hosted a press briefing — the first one — and that wasn’t our idea at all. I think the beautiful part of any leadership is getting the right people in positions to do what they do best. It’s what I'm pretty proud of, to be honest.”


“You see people grow in their competency of being a leader, and I think I've seen more than a few people reconsider what ASA means to them and what their future looks like,” Teller added.


Teller and Sule said they’re both looking forward to the upcoming ASA elections and who steps forward to run. 


Outside of ASA, the president and vice president are applying for jobs, deciding on their post-graduation futures. Teller hopes to work in the political or governmental realm, while Sule is focused on the world of IT. But, even as they explore the world outside of Augustana, they’ll remain grateful for their four years here.


“I feel like I have met people here who really get me,” Teller said. “I've made awesome friends I know I'm going to have for life, and I've been able to dig into connections with faculty members as well. It's really the best part.”


“I lived in the same place for 18 years, then I came to Augustana and I was completely out of my element,” Sule said. “So, the best part for me was that I got to shake everything up for four years and meet amazing people that I never would have met from different countries. The exposure I got to different people and ideas — I think I'm a better person because of it.”


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