Meet ASA’s 2020-21 Leaders: The Best of Friends with Very Different Voices

Augustana Student Association (ASA) President Cole Tessendorf ‘21 says Vice President Hannah DeWild ‘21 was the first person he met on campus — a very memorable first meeting.

“We interviewed for a scholarship together and she actually beat me.” The biology major, who is minoring in journalism, from Columbus, Nebraska, jokingly added, “They asked her the question first every single time.”

DeWild said laughing, “Today, I still give him guff. It’s kind of a running joke.”

Just hearing the two tell this story allows you to see that they don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s what Tessendorf says they tried to convey when vying for their leadership positions with ASA.

Tessendorf said, “That’s the most important part that Hannah and I saw. When we ran, we really wanted to run as, not imperfect people, but normal students — recognizing that yes, we’ll do the best we can, but we’ve made mistakes, we worry and we struggle with things the same way you do. We thought that would be more approachable with students, to realize you’re not alone.”

In speaking with these best friends, they also support the notion that it’s okay to be different and still get along — because they couldn’t be more opposite — with their political beliefs, interests, and how they came into their ASA leadership positions.

Tessendorf became involved with the campus organization early. As a sophomore, he was a senator on ASA’s Housing and Dining Committee, and his junior year, he was asked to be the chair of the Curriculum Committee. So, it was a natural transition for him to become president of the organization he had been so involved in.

DeWild, who is from Spirit Lake, Iowa, says her story is a bit different. While the nursing and spanish double major is Vice President of the South Dakota Student Nurses’ Association (SDSNA), the Augustana Nursing Student Association President, and led the Augustana Democrats for two years, this will be her first year being part of ASA.

“I got motivated to run because I felt like ASA had this elite group of people and these were the only people who got the insight and got the opportunity to create change. Otherwise, to submit your ideas and get your ideas heard, you had to go through a senator to get to the president and vice president, it was this whole climbing up thing. I want those people to have a say on campus because ASA is really a voice of the students,” explained DeWild.

But DeWild says that’s why the seniors make such a great team.

DeWild said, “It’s really nice because we have both voices. He’s been in ASA forever. I’ve never been in ASA, so we just have a lot of different ideas and different viewpoints. Since we do have this good friendship, I don’t feel awkward calling him out on it when I feel, ‘It’s a terrible idea, Cole.’ We just have that relationship where it’s like, ‘Hannah, no. Absolutely not.’”

The two have already hit the ground running since taking over their positions on June 1. Along with ASA Treasurer Hunter Lipinksi ‘21, DeWild is serving on the Operations Working Group, operationalizing the Viking Flex Plan in the midst of COVID-19. Tessendorf and Courtney Chrystal ‘23 have also been involved with the Academics Working Group. In conjunction with the university, ASA has already been fully engulfed in the health and safety campaign I Wear. We Care #ForAU, making educational videos available to their peers. Before the end of the spring semester, they also presented Pam Barthle, assistant professor of nursing, with ASA’s 2020 Faculty Recognition Award.

But aside from pandemic-related issues, DeWild and Tessendorf still have an agenda that they want to fulfill in 2020-21. DeWild also has a pronoun project that she is working on, which includes getting pronouns added to the Buzz Book and class lists, so students and professors don’t have to have an awkward interaction the first time they meet regarding how they prefer to be addressed. DeWild will also be busy trying to get the university on-board with more eco-friendly practices, such as having more recycle bins available during move-in and move-out times, providing pitchers of water instead of handing out water bottles at events, and utilizing utensil dispensers rather than providing an excess of utensils that go unused and get thrown away. Tessendorf refers to DeWild as the “Sustainability Queen,” and says she’s educating him along the way.

As for Tessendorf, he wants to mimic what the leaders of Students Keeping Ole’s Legacy (SKOL) have been doing with ride-sharing for Augustana basketball games. He envisions working with the Student Success Center to make these services accessible to students on campus at a discounted rate — for those who don’t have transportation to places such as the grocery store or internship opportunities.

Together though, their goal is to make ASA more transparent. The pair have made a form to include in AMail, also available before and after meetings, where students can provide anonymous feedback. DeWild jokes that it sounds retro, but they’re also hoping to stand up a suggestion box outside their office where students can provide input as well.

“Obviously, people out there have ideas and concerns, but they’re afraid to bring them forward 90 percent of the time or don’t know where to start. My ultimate goal is just to get more people involved in ASA than just the people who have always been involved in ASA,” said DeWild.

The reason for DeWild getting involved in the first place.

Meet the ASA Executive Board:

Cole Tessendorf ‘21

Position: ASA President

Hometown: Columbus, Nebraska

Studying: biology major and journalism minor

Hannah DeWild ‘21

Position: ASA Vice President

Hometown: Spirit Lake, Iowa

Studying: nursing and Spanish double major, religion and medical humanities and society minors

Hunter Lipinski ‘21 

Position: ASA Treasurer

Hometown: Brookings, South Dakota

Studying: nursing major and biology minor

Kristina Theodosopolous '21

Position: ASA Secretary

Hometown: Brookings, South Dakota

Studying: communications disorders major

Cal Irvine ‘23

Position: ASA Technical Director

Hometown: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Studying: data science and computer information systems double major, math and computer science minors


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Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations and communications strategist.