Leaving others in her Dust

May 19th, 2016 | SMWC

By: Katie Shane

SMWC sophomore amasses impressive resume in two short years

Casey Dust

The signature line of Casey Dust’s email gives a pretty accurate view of who she is. The long list of activities and affiliations is impressive and almost as long as the email itself; Mild-Intervention Elementary Education Major, Honors Program, Student Senate President, Future Teachers of America Member, Learning Resource Center Tutor, Ministry Intern at Sugar Creek Baptist Church.

“Being involved – it’s always been there in me. In high school, I was very involved,” the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College sophomore says. “It sounds funny, but it feels weird if I don’t have something to do. If I don’t have an organized check list, it feels very odd. I would feel like I’m wasting the day.”

It’s not often that Dust wastes anything, whether it’s time or her opportunities. The Rockdale, Ind., native has capitalized on her short time at The Woods, becoming the youngest student in decades to hold the title of President of the SMWC Student Senate. Although she didn’t go into the organization with the goal of President in mind, she says it naturally happened, and she couldn’t be more proud to represent her fellow students.

“It’s been an experience unlike any other,” she explains. “It’s a leadership position. I’m younger and working with older students, working with the administration and President (Dottie) King; this has opened my eyes and given me courage to not be afraid to approach people and to get out there. I have put myself out there and have these opportunities to push me to go past the line of my comfort zone.”

Pushing past her comfort zone has happened more than a few times since Dust started at The Woods; giving her the chance to blossom from a high schooler to thriving college student. Dust explains at SMWC the sky is the limit when it comes to involvement and opportunities. For Dust, she has found a “home” on campus with groups like Student Senate, Ethics Bowl, the Honors Program and tutoring of elementary and high school students.

Starting her sophomore year, Dust was encouraged to step out of her comfort zone once again when joining the College’s Ethics Bowl team. Never a huge fan of public speaking, she was interested in the group and received a small push from The Woods faculty. She was told to give the club a try; the worst that could happen is that she wouldn’t like it. The opposite happened; she joined the club and loved it.

“If the faculty see potential, they are pushing you and encouraging you,” she says. “If they think you can bring something to the table or maybe you don’t have the courage to put yourself out there, they will bring it up. There are no limits.”


Casey Dust became the youngest student in decades to hold the title of President of the SMWC Student Senate.

With such a strong passion for her college, it’s hard to believe Dust almost didn’t attend The Woods, a move she now says was set in motion by a higher power. As a high school student, Dust said Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College wasn’t originally on her list of schools to visit, but she was encouraged by her English teacher to look at The Woods. She agreed, and like many students, the first time she set foot on the campus, she was hooked.

“I went for a visit in November, and I fell in love,” she says with a smile.

At first the thought of a private college was daunting to Dust, who applied to The Woods over her Christmas break and also looked into scholarship opportunities. Armed with her to-do list and determination, she was accepted to The Woods and received 95 percent of her tuition paid through scholarships and small grants.

It’s no surprise that during summer vacation from classes Dust will make the most of her time. This summer she will serve as an intern for Sugar Creek Baptist Church in West Terre Haute, Ind.

Strong in her faith, ideals and beliefs, Dust will also spend time blogging for the website www.theprolifeyouth.com. Dust was one of hundreds chosen to represent the site and be a voice for the young audience.

The national website is described as a “website aimed at youth, led by youth to protect the human rights of all people, especially the unborn.” Dust acknowledges that the topic can be controversial and emotional for many, but she says she feels passionate about the topic and was honored when selected.

“I have to be passionate, sometimes you get darts thrown at you. The pro-life population is small, but honestly it makes me feel like I can make a small dent. I feel like I can make a change,” she says. “It is an incredible feeling to think that maybe I have a small part in changing that problem.”

For Dust, working for what she believes in goes beyond her religious or political beliefs and is more about her character as a person. Dust adds, that if it wasn’t this website or this topic, she would no doubt be working for something else. She says she looks forward to taking that passion into her future career as a teacher.

“If I didn’t stand up for this, there would be something else,” she says. “I don’t want to feel shame for not standing up in something that I believe in.”