Ali Lennon“My favorite part was my year abroad in Wales….It was an eye-opening, life changing experience.”

Alissa Loen Lennon - Wakonda, South Dakota
Major: B.A. Psychology with emphasis in Disaster Response, minor in Spanish

Alissa Loen Lennon began her college career at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, but she could hear the Coyotes calling and transferred to USD in her sophomore year.

“I chose USD because of its affordability, quality liberal arts education and renowned psychology department,” she said.

“I was incredibly fortunate to have (track coach) Lucky Huber as my academic advisor when I transferred to USD,” Alissa said. “Lucky suggested the disaster response emphasis within psychology, and it made all the difference to my USD experience.”

Alissa interned with the Red Cross in Omaha and served on two national disasters that summer. She says learning about disaster response “made a world of difference to my education at USD.”

“It truly is a hidden gem of USD. The faculty are world leaders in disaster response and psychological first aid,” she said. “I am still in awe of my professor in disaster response, Gerald Jacobs …. He has seen so much turmoil, destruction and heartache around the world through various disasters. I am grateful to have had him share those experiences and his time with us students.”

Alissa decided it was time to see the world for herself, so she spent a year abroad in Wales. “I wrote and defended a dissertation, received a psychology degree, traveled to 15 different countries and met my now husband,” she said.

Her advice to students: “Study hard and take advantage of all the opportunities USD has to offer. Some of my greatest learning experiences came from internships and studying abroad.”

After working for the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls she joined the USD Foundation where she is associate director of development for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Garrett Howardson“You get back what you put in. The more initiative you take today the better prepared you’ll be for tomorrow.”

Garett Howardson - Clark, South Dakota
Major: Psychology

Garett was looking for a liberal arts education, and he got one at the University of South Dakota. The Clark, South Dakota, native combined a major in psychology with a minor in computer science.

“… USD gave me more financial aid than any other school relative to tuition,” Garett said. Once he got here it was the teachers and programs that completed his experience.

His favorite teacher was Professor Doug Peterson in psychology. “He showed real personal interest in his students. Teaching was not a transaction thing for Doug - it was a transformative experience. He’s just a good person,” Garett said.

He also loved his experience in the Honors Program at USD. “It was so much work but well, well worth it. The one-on-one advising was extremely valuable,” he said.

“I also really enjoyed my computer science coursework, and I use those skills on a daily basis, even when conducting psychological research in my current positions.” 

In fact, if Garett had his way computer science would be a required course at USD. “I think this should be a required course to keep USD grads competitive in the workforce.”