Outstanding students, Wildcat Pride honors announced at 33rd annual Kansas State Polytechnic awards banquet
The academic achievements, positive attitudes, and valuable impacts of Wildcats on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus were highlighted and honored during an annual celebration marking the end of the school year.
Kansas State Polytechnic's 33rd annual Awards and Recognition Banquet brought together students, faculty and staff April 18 to spotlight the winners of a variety of accolades, including the most outstanding student in each degree option and the coveted Wildcat Pride Awards. Many of the categories were open for nominations from anyone on campus and were decided upon by an established committee. The recipients of the Outstanding Academic Student Awards were selected by faculty in each degree area. In addition, student groups such as Residence Life staff, peer tutors, student ambassadors, and Student Governing Association members were thanked for their campus contributions. In all, more than 30 honors were handed out and over 120 people attended.
The event was organized by a student committee – Nick Harries, senior in UAS flight and operations; Jacob Kraus, freshman in professional pilot; Logan Ragsdale, freshman in professional pilot; Taya Smith, senior in social work; and Shanna Walker, junior in technology management – with Alexander Curry, freshman in airport management and professional pilot, at the helm as committee chair. Julie Rowe, student activities and career center coordinator, served as their mentor and says this awards banquet is special because, along with recognizing students for what they do in the classroom, who they are as a person also is emphasized.
"What strikes me most by the type of awards we present is that they spotlight character traits, like determination, service, dedication, worth ethic, and inspiration," said Rowe. "While most of us do not work for the purpose of being rewarded, when someone notices our efforts, it feels pretty darn good. It communicates that you're seen and you're valued. There are a lot of Wildcats on this campus who should be proud of their contributions, academically and personally."
The honors that notably focus on character traits are called the Wildcat Pride Awards and they are given to four students who display attributes of community service, determination, dedication and inspiration.
RaeLynn Roe, junior in social work, Salina, is the recipient of the Wildcat Pride Award for Community Service primarily because of her leadership of and commitment to Cats' Corner, a place on campus where any student can receive extra support of food, hygiene items and professional clothing. The award's purpose is to recognize a student who is aware of a community's needs and understands the civic responsibility of serving the community. Cats' Corner was developed and implement by Roe because she and her faculty mentor, Rowe, learned that many Wildcats have food insecurity. Roe manages the operation during her free time from class and her jobs and does not get paid. According to one of her nominators, Roe's service has "benefited countless students and changed lives" and she does it all "humbly behind the scenes."
Frederic Peters, a senior in airport management, Saint Marys, was given the Wildcat Pride Award for Determination, which is presented to a student who shows a quality of firmness in beliefs and actions, doesn't quit until an answer or decision is reached, and pursues life by focusing on achieving a goal with passion. According to his nominator, Peters is both determined to earn a degree and be engaged while in school. He is a member of Student Support Services and has been active in the student chapter of American Association of Airport Executives, or AAAE. Peters works full time to pay for college and has been working toward a goal of graduating debt free. At one point during his college career, he took time off to earn money to pay for his tuition, and now, in his final semester, Peters has been getting up at 3 a.m. to go to work before traveling more than an hour for classes on campus.
John Decker, sophomore in social work, Salina, earned the Wildcat Pride Award for Dedication, which recognizes a student who goes above and beyond normal duties and is committed to a particular course of thought or action. Decker is a full-time student, father and the main provider in his family. His nominator says he is dedicated to the field of social work through his studies, involvement in the Social Work Wildcats student club, and his own charity, which he started in honor of his son. The Owen Decker Foundation helps families with basic needs like food and clothing while one of their children is in the hospital. Decker and his family experienced a similar situation when Owen was in the hospital and Decker felt torn between being with his son and having to work to make ends meet. The Owen Decker Foundation has raised $3,000 so far and just recently, assisted its first family in need.
Jacob Cowart, junior in UAS flight and operations, Horton, is the recipient of the Wildcat Pride Award for Most Inspirational student. This award honors a student who inspires others to achieve the highest level at which they are capable, and epitomizes the qualities of determination, dedication and service. This student must also maintain a GPA of 2.5 or above. Cowart, who has been wheelchair bound most of his life, is required to obtain a manned private pilot certificate as part of the UAS flight and operations curriculum. In order to do this, he had to track down a special hand control that could be mounted on one of the campus's airplanes. He searched for the part himself, traveled to Texas to pick it up, and in the time it took for the Federal Aviation Administration to examine and approve the hand control installation, his temporary medical expired, so he had to renew it. According to Cowart's nominator, he went to great lengths to make his dreams come true and never once gave up when the process of trying to fly was complicated.
Below is a list of other winners from Kansas State Polytechnic's 33rd annual Awards and Recognition Banquet.
Outstanding Academic Student Awards
Airport Management: Nicole Johnson
Applied Business: Westin Shehi
Aviation Maintenance Management: Lane Shoemaker
Chemistry: Austin Kuhlman
Computer Systems Technology: Austin Kuhlman
Digital Media Technology: Justin Zamecnik
Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology: Chance Harapat
Expository Writing: Levi Unruh, Samuel Haynes and Paul Gebhardt
Mechanical Engineering Technology: Matthew Haugh
Professional Master of Technology: John-Paul Hood
Professional Pilot: Avery Lambden
Robotics and Automation: Garry Parzych
Social Work: Jamie Womochil
Technology Management: Hannah Schulte
UAS Flight and Operations: Kurtis Liles
UAS Design and Integration: Jeremy Spink
Web Development Technology: Nicholas Crombie
Outstanding Campus Awards
Advisor/Faculty Mentor of the Year: Kebby Underwood
Club Advisor of the Year: Karen Morrison
Faculty Member of the Year: Fred Guzek
Larry Caldwell Good Sportsmanship: Philip Wolf
Outstanding Staff of the Year: Travis Balthazor
Student Employee of the Year: Mike Kuni
Student Organization of the Year: UAS Club
Dean of Student Life Outstanding Graduating Senior: Jacob Rose
University Student Employee of the Year Finalist: Jacob Rose