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Peyton Couch
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Peyton Couch

Graduation year: 2021

High school: Ottawa Township High School

Hometown: Marseilles, Ill.

Majors: Pre-medicine, neuroscience

Activities: Student Government Association, varsity track & field (captain), Camp Kesem, Iota Chi Epsilon service/social fraternity

Post-grad plans: Attend Kansas City University for a master's in biomedical sciences

Why Augustana?

Before visiting Augustana, I thought I had already made up my mind about the college I was committing to, but my mom basically forced me to come on a visit and see what Augustana College had to offer.

When I stepped foot onto campus, I was instantly drawn to the beauty of the campus and the welcoming community; I felt like I belonged here. After sitting down and talking with Coach Paul Olsen in his office, I knew that Augustana was the place for me, and I couldn't see myself going anywhere else.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

Not at all. When I first got to Augustana, I thought I would only have time to participate in track while focusing on my academics, but this simply was not the case. In addition to being on the track team, I somehow found the time to found a new fraternity, serve as the vice president of the Student Government Association and on the Coordinator Board of Camp Kesem at Augustana.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

There are many, many people who have helped get me to where I am today, so I will just highlight a few of them here.

First, I want to thank my parents for supporting me in everything that I do and for providing me with the opportunity to attend Augustana.

A few faculty members who have had an impact on my time here include Brad Kennedy and Dr. Scott Gehler, who helped me grow and explore my interest in the field of biology. I also want to thank Dr. Lena Hann for helping me discover my passion for helping others through the field of public health.

I also want to give a special thanks to Dr. Wes Brooks, who has helped me learn from challenging experiences and given me the confidence to be a strong leader.

Finally, I want to thank a few of my coaches, such as Paul Olsen, Shawn Williams, Jake Shaver, Mike Pettis, Chad Thomas and David Gonzalez. They have all helped me grow as an athlete and as a person, and I am so grateful for the time I have spent with each of them.

Peak experience?

Serving as the vice president of Student Government Association during the past year has definitely been my peak experience, and I am incredibly grateful that the student body gave me the opportunity to do so. Being in this position has helped me learn so much about being a leader and about myself.

I am so thankful that my partner, and now one of my best friends, Kaitlyn Watkins, asked me to run alongside her because I can't imagine where I would be right now without having this experience.

What surprised you?

I learned how much of an impact even the smallest of actions can have on another person's life! I learned how easy it is to shed light into someone's day just by checking in with them, listening to their experiences or saying hi. Taking the time to brighten someone's day goes a long way and will help you build connections with people who want to support you as well.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I have not used my Augie Choice yet, but I am planning to use it to help cover some of the costs associated with a summer internship.

What will you miss the most?

I will definitely miss the people the most. Augustana has become my home, and the people I have surrounded myself with have become my second family. I will be forever grateful for the connections that I have built and the time I have spent with all of them. I will miss the everyday interactions with my friends and teammates, but I know that the relationships that I have built will last a lifetime.

Advice for the Class of 2025?

Be yourself and do what makes you happy! Surround yourself with people who allow you to be your true, authentic self, and the second part should come pretty easily.

"Peyton is a born leader. His intelligence, maturity and ability to work diligently and effectively with anyone make him indispensable to any endeavor. He is a captain of the track & field team, serves on the exec board for SGA, co-founded a service fraternity, and has material roles in a variety of other campus organizations. We have an axiom that helps us define what makes an 'Augustana student-athlete': there is room for more than one number one. By being focused and using your time wisely, you can achieve greatness in more than one aspect of life. Peyton is an inspiring embodiment of this philosophy."

– Jake Shaver '06, head coach, men's cross country and track & field