Gustie of the Week: Haley Lukes

Michaela WoodwardStaff Writer

Senior Social Studies Education major Haley Lukes has been able to follow her passions during her time at Gustavus.

Originally from Glencoe, Lukes was drawn to Gustavus because of its education program and strong financial aid package. Here, she found the right place and the right people to foster her academic endeavors. “I found kind of a home within the degree,” Lukes said. 

Associate Professor in Education Amy Vizenor has worked with Lukes in several classes.

“Even as a first-year, [Lukes] was committed, thoughtful, and enthusiastic about her future in education. [Lukes] is an authentic person who strives to make her content relevant and accessible to students while also making connections with students and what matters to them. I am proud of [Lukes] and the educator she has become. Her potential to impact young people for the good is limitless,” Vizenor said. 

Lukes’ interest in Social Studies began with the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning musical Hamilton.

“This is going to be really embarrassing. It started with Hamilton. I got really interested in the American Revolution and history,” Lukes said. 

Originally intending to focus on Elementary Education, Lukes shifted toward middle school and high school Social Studies due to the variety of classes and subjects it allowed her to teach. 

“It’s a pretty wide variety of stuff you can teach… geography, history, political science, civics, government, psychology and sociology electives at school. It’s huge for teaching in that area,” Lukes said. 

Geography was such an area of interest for Lukes that she added a Geography minor onto her degree.

Currently Lukes is student teaching and finds it to be an opportunity for growth in her and her students. 

“I have eighth grade Global Studies and I love the kids. They’re so funny and so great and I love every day that I’m there,” Lukes said. 

“This is the first time they’re taking a class like this. They’ve never had a class that’s geography or culture, they’ve only ever had history. It’s really new for them and they’re out of their comfort zone. I’m out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done this before, and so just having that bonding that we both are new to this… I was really grateful to start the school year with them,” Lukes said. 

When thinking about where she would like to be post-graduation, Lukes would like to stay in the area and stay with middle school teaching.

“I love middle school. It is my area. That’s all I want to teach. They’re at an age where they need someone who’s in their corner rooting for them and that’s all I try to provide these kids,” Lukes said. 

On campus, one of Lukes’ passions has been working on the yearly Building Bridges conference, which she attended in high school.

“It really solidified what I wanted to do on campus. I’ve done it all four years, I’ve been on the E-board the last three. I am co-captaining an action piece [this year as well as last year],” Lukes said.

Senior Ellie Hartmann has worked with Lukes on Building Bridges all four years.

“[Lukes] is genuinely such a hard worker, but what really stands out to me is her commitment. If she says she’s going to get something done, she will, and if something goes wrong and she can’t make it happen by the time she said she would, she’ll communicate that with you. She has passion and drive, but more importantly she has a vision for how to make her goals happen. Overall, I think she exemplifies the five Gustie pillars through her work and spirit and it’s been an honor to get to know and work with her these past four years,” Hartmann said.

On campus, Lukes also plays in the Handbell Ensemble and in the past has been a CF and CC for Residential Life. 

Throughout her involvement, Lukes notes that one thing is consistent: the people.

“I’ve found so many people that I think I have with me for the rest of my life. I’ve got this group in the [education] department. I’m friends with people I never thought I’d be friends with because of handbells. I’m friends with a lot of my residents from that first year of CFing,” Lukes said. 

Lukes also works in the Academic Support Center and encourages students to use their services and to take care of themselves, especially having navigated her own accommodations. 

“Be an advocate for yourself. Advocate for anything, whether it’s your physical health, your mental health. I’ve always been very open especially when I got to college about my mental health and stuff I struggle with and I’m always willing to give recommendations. Being an advocate for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a whole,” Lukes said.