Banouvong, a senior marketing major and native of Sioux Falls, SD, worked with the Salvation Army in Sioux Falls to collect items, organize inventory, help customers load their cars and generally clean items the Salvation Army received as donations before they were put out for sale.
Banouvong said, "I chose working at the Salvation Army because I wanted something to open my mind up, which it did. I learned not to judge a book by its cover. I worked with people who were devoted to helping their community – it just blew my mind."
Alex Berke of AmeriCorps VISTA describes why Banouvong was chosen for this honor, "The Student Action Office chose Tommy because he embodies what we hope students will achieve from performing service generally and as part of the IdEA Program. He came to see his home from a different perspective and became motivated to get more involved with his community."
Donna VanDiepen of the Salvation Army in Sioux Falls was happy to have Banouvong's help, "Tommy was such a delight. We have many things to do here at our store and he was so good at jumping in and doing whatever we needed. It's rare to find someone so nice and courteous."
The Featured Student Award recognizes students who complete an outstanding service project.�Commonly, the project will include service-learning or a community-based activity. The IdEA Program is a graduation requirement that features interdisciplinary study paired with community service-learning, research or creativity work.
The Student Action Office is part of the Center for Academic Engagement at The U and promotes service-learning and undergraduate research. It is supported in its community service-learning efforts by the Corporation for National and Community Service based in Washington, D.C. and the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education based in Lincoln, NE.