College expands Augie Choice transformative experience grants

transformative experiences Augie Choice Augustana College
Of the 20 students who traveled with a geology class to the Caribbean Island of Bonaire in 2020, 16 used Augie Choice. CREDIT AUGUSTANA COLLEGE

Augustana College’s 15-year-old Augie Choice program is adding sophomores to the juniors and seniors already eligible to apply for up to $2,000 to help pay expenses related to transformative internships, research or study away experiences.

The broadening of this pivotal program coincides with the launch of the Rock Island college’s strategic plan, Bold & Boundless, according to a news release.

The program prioritizes engaged learning, maximizing student potential and connecting to the community through partnership. Such learning then translates into students finding inspirational pathways and developing their capacity to be impactful citizens when they leave Augustana, the college said in the release.

Making Augie Choice accessible to sophomores allows students to access the transformative experiences earlier and accelerates the building of skills and mindsets that today’s and tomorrow’s employers desire.

Each year, nearly 550 students use Augie Choice to engage in career- and life-changing experiences. Augustana has invested more than $11.8 million to assist Augustana students in achieving high-impact learning experiences.

During the 2022-2023 school year, 415 students were awarded Augie Choice grants. Of the recipients, 224 used those funds to study abroad, 177 used the funds to defray the costs of internships and 14 used it to conduct independent research.

Opportunity for all

One of the goals of Bold & Boundless, President Andrea Talentino said in the release, is to make high-impact learning opportunities unavoidable for students, which means they need to be accessible to all. Augie Choice helps remove or lessen financial barriers for students, and this expansion helps students pursue opportunities to shape their chosen academic and career paths earlier during their time at Augustana.

“We know Augie Choice has been instrumental in shaping Augustana juniors and seniors into strong leaders and that it prepares them for their next steps in the workforce, graduate education or service,” Ms. Talentino said. “We’ve seen the benefits for these students, and we are so excited to add sophomore students to this program to allow them to dive into the experiences that will enrich them and lead them to their next steps.”

Augie Choice dollars have paid for professional clothing for internships, covered rent for internships or research, and helped students travel individually and in groups.

Since its inception, the release said, more than 3,000 students have used Augie Choice for study abroad; 2,400+ used it for the costs related to internships, such as rent or professional clothes; and nearly 400 have used it to conduct research.

“Augustana develops the qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for students to discover their life’s calling of leadership and service in a changing world, and we know Augie Choice creates life-defining experiences that prepare them for that world,” Ms. Talentino said. “We also know that earlier opportunities will help them better shape their curricular and co-curricular journey and inspire their vocational direction.”   

Who’s opting for Augie Choice?

Among students in the Class of 2024 who tapped into Augie Choice are: 

  • Leslie Bandera, a biochemistry and chemistry double major, paid for housing in Houston, Texas, for her summer research experience with the Texas Medical Center.
  • Alexander Tosetti, an accounting and business administration-finance double major,  paid for professional attire and transportation costs during his summer internship.
  • John Flannery traveled to Japan with the Augustana Symphonic Band during the spring 2023 tour. The group explored the country and played concerts with Japanese students.
  • Emily Martin, an environmental studies and geology double major, went to Bonaire in the Caribbean as part of Geology 321: Island Geology to learn more about the nature of the islands and threats upon them. 
  • Alyssa Macias, a public health major, studied abroad in Iceland and Sweden, learning about the multiple factors influencing health and wellness in Scandinavia in comparison to America. 
  • Grey White, a theater – musical theater and business administration – management double major, interned at Skellington Manor in Rock Island, and funded “Private Lives,” the play they directed as part of their Senior Inquiry. 

More information about Augie Choice is available at

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.