From Oaths of Office to Wedding Vows: Former Augustana Student Association President, Vice President Continue Partnership as Married Couple

By Keeley Meier '20 | February 14, 2024

Three years before they were elected Augustana Student Association (ASA) president and vice president and six years before they said “I do,” Drs. Katelyn (Graber) ‘18 and Luke Hurley ‘18 met for the first time in the Augustana Ordal Dining Hall. The two sat at the same table during a Distinguished Scholars event before their first year at Augustana. 

Katelyn and Luke wouldn’t cross paths again until the beginning of their sophomore years during Welcome Week. They were both Viking Guides for first-year students and were putting together loft beds in residence halls.

Kate and Luke on ASA

“I saw him in the hallway and said, ‘Hey, aren't you the one that I sat with at Distinguished Scholars?’” Katelyn remembered. “Later in the week, I needed someone to help me move my carpet into the sophomore dorms, so I asked the Welcome Week group, ‘Does anybody have a pickup (truck)?’ Nobody volunteered, but Luke came up really quietly, and he said, ‘I have a pickup — just let me know.’ So, that was the beginning of our friendship.”

Katelyn, of Hurley, South Dakota — ironically Luke’s last name — and Luke, of Canton, South Dakota, both grew up on farms and were drawn to Augustana through family connections. Luke took a small detour the first semester of his freshman year — attending a different university before transferring to Augustana during January Interim (J-Term) after realizing within the first month of classes that Augustana was where he was meant to be.

Katelyn and Luke were both biology majors, and Luke added a business administration major along the way. They were biology teaching assistants (TAs), admission ambassadors, on the 2017 Viking Days royalty court and played on many of the same intramural teams. Throughout these experiences, the two developed a close friendship and ability to work well together — leading them to perhaps their most impactful AU partnership: ASA president and vice president.

Hurleys at Viking Days

Katelyn, who had been involved with ASA since her first year, had planned to run for a senior senator position until some students encouraged her to run for commander-in-chief. 

“Luke hadn’t been in ASA before, and I hadn't really thought about it much,” Katelyn said. “But, then, I sent a text to Luke and said, ‘Do you want to run for ASA?’ He said, ‘Are you serious?’ And, I said, ‘No, not really, but kind of.’” 

As the two began to think about it, though, they realized they just might make a good presidential pair. 

“I had surgery on my thumb junior year, so Katelyn sat next to me in class and took notes for me since I couldn't write,” said Luke. “So, we learned how to work together and realized we would probably be a good team for ASA.”

Running for the position was “one of the toughest things we did during college,” Luke said. They woke up at 4:30 a.m. to put up yard signs around campus and stayed up late crafting social media posts for their campaign. 

“Once we won, it was a lot of fun because we got to start planning for the next year,” said Luke. “With regard to the actual (academic) year, it was a lot more constant chaos, but it was enjoyable because we got to work alongside President (Stephanie) Herseth Sandlin, Jim Bies (former vice president of student affairs) and attend the Board of Trustees meetings. So, it was a very enjoyable experience while also being able to impart some sort of change before the end of our term.”

During their term, Katelyn and Luke, along with their Senate, added an Augie Access Senator position, increased transparency and amplified messaging behind the importance of recycling on campus, among other things. Katelyn, though, remains proudest of her running mate and vice president. 

“We had a bonfire (while campaigning) and Luke's parents came. I remember telling his dad, ‘Luke's really easy to work with because he's the hardest working person I know.’ And, he really is,” Katelyn said, tears in her eyes. “It's just something I'm really proud of. He works really hard and does not complain ever.

“That made it so fun because, yeah, it was chaotic, but it was our own chaos that we decided on,” Katelyn continued. “When you get to work with somebody who's excited and not complaining about the hard work you're doing, it's really rewarding.”

In May 2018, the pair graduated from Augustana. Shortly after, Katelyn asked Luke, “Are you ever going to ask me on a date?” He did, and the two spent the summer together before beginning the long-distance part of their relationship in the fall. Luke went off to medical school at the University of South Dakota (USD) School of Medicine in Vermillion, and Katelyn headed to South Dakota State University (SDSU) to earn a Ph.D. in cell & molecular biology.


They made trips back and forth to see each other, and in June of 2019, Luke had a special trip planned for them … to Augustana’s Ordal Dining Hall.

“Since that's where we met, I figured that that would probably be the best place to ask Katelyn to marry me,” said Luke. “I had my sisters and my parents help me out. We cleared out the dining hall and had a little curtain to walk around to where we had a bunch of pictures and even one of our campaign signs that, instead of saying ‘Katelyn and Luke for ASA,’ said ‘Katelyn and Luke for life.’”

Katelyn said “yes” and the two were married in August of 2020 — making sure to stop at Augustana between the ceremony and reception to snap some photos on campus. 

In May 2022, Katelyn and Luke graduated from SDSU and USD, respectively, and began a new journey in Fargo, North Dakota, for Luke’s orthopedic surgery residency. After working as a scientist in Fargo for a year, though, Katelyn’s dream job became available — teaching at Augustana. She applied and accepted the position of visiting assistant professor of biology in August 2023.

“We realized we were going to live apart. But, we decided together that it was worth it for me to get this chance and experience,” Katelyn said. “And, I'm so grateful that I did because it's been the best job ever. The students are amazing. They are so dedicated. They're so kind. Every day, I wake up and I'm excited to come to work.”

Hurleys Ole Statue

Despite being apart, the Hurleys know it’s not for long. Luke will join Katelyn in Sioux Falls for a year beginning in July, and the Hurleys will then return to Fargo for Luke’s final two years of residency. After that, the couple will journey to wherever in the U.S. Luke is placed for his fellowship. Eventually, they plan to return to Sioux Falls.

Through residency, moves and long distance, what remains constant for the Hurleys are their aligned values, determination to grow together and love for each other — evident each time they speak of one another.

“Katelyn is the kindest person I know,” said Luke. “She's always looking out for others and thinking of other people first. That's something that I continue to work on. She's always a constant reminder of acting with a kind heart.”

“I always say, with Luke, that my favorite thing is he's talented and good at so many things, but he's very humble,” Katelyn said. “He's just so patient and calm. He’s also very witty and sneakily funny.”

When the Hurleys think back to that day in spring of 2014 when they first met in the dining hall — nearly a decade ago — they recognize the importance of Augustana and how something as simple as getting involved got them to where they are today.

“All of the things that I did and people I met were a result of getting involved in one organization or another,” Luke said. “Although all those things take up time, it's more than worth it because it leads to wonderful experiences, lifelong friends and maybe even a future spouse.”

Share this Page