Streufert seeks student success, draws from personal experiences

Billie Streufert

Streufert helps freshmen through seniors find resources for their future



When Billie Streufert left Augustana in 2007, she knew it was a place she wanted to return to someday.

“I fell in love with the place … I kept my eyes on opportunities at Augustana since the day I left,” she said. “I just knew that it was the place I wanted to call home.”

After serving as a hall director for Solberg for three years, Streufert left Augustana to pursue other roles in career and academic development, first at the University of South Dakota and then the University of Sioux Falls.

But despite other opportunities at both institutions, it was Augustana she choose to return to, knowing she had a calling to become part of a community that values career exploration for students at the highest level.

Since returning three years ago, she’s helped the Student Success Center establish its roots, serving as the executive director.

“Being part of a community that makes education accessible for students and to work alongside esteemed faculty and staff that join me in that cause to [ultimately]  see students walk across the stage [at graduation] is very rewarding,” she said.

StreufertAnd with the Success Center helping freshmen through seniors find resources and gain skills early on as a freshman, vocation is something that is woven into Augustana’s curriculum.  

“It’s no longer optional ­—it’s deemed essential,” Streufert said. “I think it speaks volumes about what Augustana is and its commitment and dedication.”

Streufert’s own life experiences have helped her guide unsure college students. Going into college set on clinical psychology, Streufert discovered through an internship it wasn’t the career she imagined. Her experience struggling to find a job with depth and meaning has helped her empathize with what students go through.

“Having that quarter-life crisis and not knowing as a senior, I am able to normalize it when seniors come and they don’t have it all figured out,” she said. “You give away what you have actively mastered.  I don’t have life all figured out, but I have had experience to be able to help them.”

Streufert’s experience as a first-generation college student has helped further her goals of making sure college students, especially first-generation ones, get the support they need.

She aspires for Augustana to equip all students with applied learning opportunities, such as teaching, research, clinicals or internships.

Fellow student advisor Kaari Speer used to two phrases to describe Streufert: task master and energizer bunny.

“She is always meeting with students … reading cover letters, [personal] mission statements or statements for students and their applications to grad school—she is constantly on the go,” Speer said.

Seeking Streufert’s advice, senior Leah Jessen was willing to wait two weeks to meet with Streufert—knowing she could help with a grad school application.         

“Billie looked at my resume and wanted to highlight the parts of my resume that made and shaped me, like my volunteer work or my passion,” Jessen said. “To her, those parts were more important than any other aspects—it showed that she cared about me as a person.”

Although the Success Center helps students obtain that acceptance letter, or a first job, Streufert’s enjoyment comes from walking alongside students in their journey to find meaningful work and to give back their talents.

“Two-thirds of people go to jobs they hate,” she said. “I think we as an American society think it has to be that way. We all complain about work, and I think a better way exists.”     

In her interim class, Streufert tries helping students discover this, in the form of applied learning, to learn what intrigues a student’s intrinsic motivation, she said.

“On the last day when I flip the lights off, it’s always an amazing moment,” she said. “I think of how awesome it is that I get to journey alongside these students and help them discover their passions and interests.  That last day, they give me their evaluation, which is usually a verbal hug. Those days stand out to me.”

Her one piece of advice for students, a quote that has enriched her own career, comes from fellow Augustana faculty member, Martha Gregg.

“You have to embrace the chaos of life,” math professor Gregg said. “I know we all want a lighthouse beaming way out ahead of us, instead, you get a light onto your path.  One step on that path is all it takes to change your career trajectory. Approaching life with a spirit of openness and adventure will take you far.”


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