USF Global Spotlight

Avalon Jade Theisen

Avalon Jade Theisen

Avalon led the creation of over 5,000 “Care Cards” to spread gratitude and kindness amid COVID-19.


USF World's Global Spotlight initiative shines a light on any USF-affiliated individuals who embody USF World's goals of: (1) Promoting a global culture; (2) Globalizing student success; (3) Enhancing global initiatives within the university system; and (4) Deepening global engagement.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Avalon Jade Theisen, a talented Bull in leadership at USF who brings a positive energy to everything does. She looks forward to combining her lifelong passion for service with her love for USF, so that she can work with future students and guide her community towards greatness.

Go Bulls!



Hello! My name is Avalon Jade Theisen, I am a senior at USF majoring in Religious Studies with a Food Studies Certificate.

I have served as Vice President of Programming for Sigma Kappa, as the outgoing President for the Religious Studies Club at USF, and also as the 2019 Miss University of South Florida.

I have a passion for service, researching the impact of religions on social issues, and learning about other cultures.

Congratulations on receving the USF Golden Bull Award! Can you tell us more about your accomplishments?

I demonstrated leadership through my various positions with USF’s Religious Studies Club and Sigma Kappa.  Largely through my role as Miss USF 2019 and as a Sigma Kappa, I personally raised over $2,197 for charity through USF related involvement since fall 2018.

I have averaged over 200 service hours per year the past 6 years, including at least 270 hours the past 2 years at USF. 

Through many experiences in my USF journey, including the Judy Genshaft Honors College, Provost’s Scholars Program, and Religious Studies Department, I have delved deeper into my academics, including my research topics of religions, food, and environment.

Tell us more about your experience in earning the Peace Corps Prep Certificate, as well as your volunteer work here at USF.

My work for the Peace Corps Prep Certificate focused on the environmental sector. To
earn the award, I completed over 50 hours of environmental service between 2018 and
2019, took classes focused on environmentalism, and studied Spanish to the point of
reading and research fluency.

My leadership experiences have included founding the environmental nonprofit Conserve It Forward and creating/teaching classes on service, as well as serving on the executive boards of 2 USF organizations. Working towards and accomplishing the Peace Corps Prep Certificate has helped me more holistically understand the world and other cultures.

How have those experiences at USF shaped you into the Global Citizen and leader that you are today?

My involvement with USF has helped shape me into the globally-versed citizen and
leader I am today. Through completing USF programs, including the Global Citizen Project, Involvement Challenge, Tradition Keepers, and Peace Corps Prep, I have grown in my cultural competency through gaining better understanding and experiences.

One example which really stands out to me is Grand Challenges through my study abroad at
the University of Exeter in England for the Global Citizen Project. There, students
created solutions to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  My team catalogued the carbon emissions of food items in the cafeteria in order to create a
carbon-based food labeling system. Our system helps consumers better understand the
ecological impact of their food choices at a glance.

My USF experiences have helped me be a better global leader through helping my intercultural knowledge, understanding of social issues, collaboration, analysis, and solution-implementing.

Why do you think it's important for USF to offer globally-focused opportunities and experiences to students, and how does this help to shape the future of USF and the greater global community?

Our USF community is a fantastic representation of our larger, global community, rich in
cultural and geographical representation. By learning about other ways of co-existing, we can
better collaborate and understand others. USF’s globally-focused opportunities help students and staff alike do just that, allowing participants to better understand others’ beliefs, motivations, practices, and cultures. This understanding is vital for collaboration and innovation for a better world. 

What do you think are the next stages in your career?

After my graduation in Fall 2020, the next stage in my career is graduate school. I have
been pursuing this goal through doing daily GRE prep, learning 2 foreign languages, and
drafting application essays.

Just as in my undergraduate education, I will focus on cultural studies, interreligious understanding, food ethics, and environmentalism for this next step in my education. After earning my PhD, and perhaps even during it, my ultimate goal is to take on a new role at USF, one that includes course creation and instruction as an instructor.

I look forward to teaching in the USF Religious Studies Department and Judy Genshaft Honors College, where I hope to inspire students to better understand other cultures, belief systems, and ways of being, while also drafting creative solutions to social issues.