Emily Hensley sitting by fountain with waterfall in background outdoors

Hensley, a rising senior double majoring in history and political science, works on several projects for the state's most populous county, including assisting with pre-trial investigations for a recent homicide case, researching K-12 students' search and seizure rights, and reviewing truancy charges for the Sioux Falls Area School District.  

“This opportunity has been phenomenal for gaining hands-on experience and a better understanding of state and local law, its processes and its effects on the parties directly involved and the community as a whole,” Hensley said. “Meeting and interacting with some of the state's finest attorneys, public defenders and judges has definitely been an invaluable experience, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”  

Hensley, a Brandon, South Dakota, native, values the fact that she gets to experience something new every day. Hensley said she has attended a variety of court proceedings ranging anywhere from nonviolent misdemeanors to violent felonies, to more specialty court hearings like juvenile detention, veteran's affairs and mental health court. Together with the SAO team, Hensley has toured several facilities in the Sioux Falls area, such as the state penitentiary, county jail, crime lab, forensic morgue and the Sioux Falls Humane Society. 

“Each day is so different from the last, so I'm always looking forward to what else I'm going to see or learn,” she said.

During her time at USD, Hensley has held leadership positions as vice president of administration for Kappa Alpha Theta and digital accessibility coordinator for the School of Education. Hensley has also been a study away ambassador and a member of the Honors Program, the Phi Alpha Theta National Honorary Society of History and the Pre-Law Society. 

“I really enjoy the community aspect USD has to offer. It's just big enough of a campus that you can expand yourself to meet new people and try new things, without ever feeling totally overwhelmed or lost in the process,” Hensley said. “There are lots of organizations at USD that provide you with the opportunity to engage with the wider Vermillion community, which helps you feel more integrated and connected both with the campus and the town you're living in.”

Currently, Hensley is studying for the LSAT and preparing for her senior year at USD.

“I hope to pursue a career in law to help represent and advocate for victims of domestic violence, sex crimes and child abuse, among other areas,” Hensley said.

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