Sara Hento

Sara Hento

Business Manager/Lawyer, Avon School District 4-1
Avon, SD
B.B.A. Accounting, JD/MPA, 2012, 2015

"My advice to current USD students would be to take advantage of the amazing opportunities and resources USD has to offer. Join the club! Seek out a professor to be a mentor! Use the facilities! Study abroad! USD truly has world class opportunities, professors, and facilities that are at your fingertips."

Q&A with Sara:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

I serve as the business manager for the Avon School District. In my role, I manage both legal and financial concerns for the district including budgeting, policy analysis, negotiations, accounting procedures, legal procedures, and human resources. One of my principal beliefs that was founded through my studies at USD is that education should be a lifelong endeavor. As such, I am continually attending education law and accounting seminars to stay current with my fields of practice. Additionally, I believe in challenging myself as a leader and continually look for opportunities to gain leadership skills such as participating in the 2018-2019 Leadership South Dakota program.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

USD has played a substantial role in impacting my career path. First and foremost, it introduced me to professors who are still my most valuable mentors today. The professors at USD truly care about and believe in helping students achieve their personal and career goals. During both my undergraduate and graduate studies at USD, I focused my undergraduate thesis and subsequent legal writing on the impact certain legal regulations have on small communities in the Midwest. This spurred my interest in developing and being active in rural communities.

During my 3L year at USD School of Law, I was given the opportunity to apply for and was awarded a legal clerkship in the 1st Judicial Circuit. My judicial clerkship allowed me to work directly with judges and be exposed to many different practices of law. Upon exiting my clerkship, I worked in the private practice sector and was presented with the opportunity to directly impact the rural community in which I live by becoming the business manager for the Avon School District. With the knowledge and leadership skills USD instilled in me, I transitioned to my current role where I serve my community and school district daily.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement was being awarded the USD Graduate Student Leadership Award. The award was a testament to the hard work and dedication I had to educating undergraduate students on the social issues that impact our world such as poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and conservation as well as the subsequent service learning trips that ensued. This award reinforced what I learned at USD - the importance of being an active citizen and striving to always serve one’s community and world. The award sits in my office today, so I am constantly reminded that one’s service and volunteerism does not end as one exits USD, but should be a lifelong endeavor.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

My seven years at USD were incredibly rich and filled with both personal and professional development. At the commencement of my college career, I joined the USD Honors Program. The Honors Program provided me academic rigor and volunteer opportunities I would not have experienced elsewhere on campus. The Honors curriculum challenged me to think in abstract ways and apply new concepts to my accounting major. Additionally, the program exposed me to many volunteer opportunities which I participated in. For instance, my freshman year I volunteered with Chess for Children at the Jolley Elementary School. My sophomore through senior years I volunteered through SERVE and "Adopt a School." I worked in the kindergarten and third grade classrooms helping student with reading skills.

Another campus organization I am still incredibly passionate about is the AWOL program. I went on my first AWOL trip as a junior to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation to learn about the social issue of poverty on South Dakota reservations. This program kindled in me a passion for serving others and gave me the opportunity to be the graduate assistant for the Center for Academic and Global Engagement while in law school. In this position, I helped plan and implement the service learning trips for AWOL in addition to serving as the learning partner for trips to New Orleans, the Rosebud Reservation, and the Cheyenne River Reservation. While completing my joint Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration, I was involved in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board, Trial Team, and class leadership.

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