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Source: Pat Bosco, 785-532-6237,

Friday, April 29, 2011


MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University students from fields as diverse as aeronautics and biology have been named outstanding graduating seniors. The awards were presented at an April 28 reception by Pat Bosco, K-State vice president for student life and dean of students.

The awards, first given in 1999, recognize the significant contributions these seniors made to student life at K-State. Directors and staff members in the Division of Student Life nominated candidates; Bosco made the final selections.

"It's always a difficult decision to make because K-State has so many remarkable seniors who go out of their way to improve the campus experience for other students," Bosco said. "But this group's accomplishments really stand out."

Each student received a plaque. Recipients include:

* Shae Nicole Blackwell, family studies and human services, Hanston, served as K-State Salina student body vice president. She was part of the University Honor Council, K-State Salina Student Governing Association, Student Homecoming Committee and Dean Kuhlman's Enhancement Committee. She served as a K-State Salina Student Ambassador and was a receptionist in the K-State Salina admissions office. She also was a Telefund coach; a member of the Sustainability Club and Family Studies and Human Services Interest Group; and was named K-State Salina's Most Inspirational Student in 2010, student support services' Student of the Month for March 2010, the Student Governing Association's Senator of the Year for 2009 and received the 2009 Wildcat Pride Award for Determination. "I'm now more aware of the importance of setting goals and the steps required to successfully achieve them," Blackwell said. "I have also realized the importance of defining and developing my own personal leadership style. Although my understanding of this process is still somewhat juvenile, I'm sure that where I am now is the place that I'm meant to grow from, with others around me that both help and hinder, and situations that will both frustrate and liberate. I still have a lot more to learn personally and professionally; my leadership journey has only just begun." She plans to pursue a master's degree in organizational leadership at Gonzaga University.

* Seth C. Ellis II, secondary education, Kansas City, Kan., helped organize Black History Month for the Black Student Union, received the Tippin family's If I Stand Tall Award, volunteered with the Japan Relief Fund in conjunction with the Red Cross and participated in the Upward Bound Senior Seminar. "It helped me becoming a better negotiator, motivator and self-motivator," Ellis said. His plans are to earn a master's in education administration and supervision, and create and establish a charter school.

* Diana Klote, secondary education, Leawood, was a leadership studies class leader for two years. She was active in Up 'til Dawn, serving as 2010-2011 executive director, 2009-2010 public relations chair, 2008-2009 head morale captain and 2007-2008 team captain. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, serving as 2010 vice president of member development and 2009 vice president of administration. She also received the sorority's 2011 Amy Burnham Onken Award and 2010 Most Dedicated award. She was communications chair for Mortar Board senior honor society, a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, a member of the 2010 K-State Proud advisory board and 2010 historian for the Council for Exceptional Children. "My leadership experiences have taught me that relationships are sometimes more important or just as important as the tasks themselves. My leadership experiences have changed my life because of the relationships I have formed with the amazing people in these groups. I know we have a bond through these organizations, and I know that we will always keep in touch. I can't imagine my life without these people," Klote said. She will student teaching in Kansas City in fall 2011 and then return to K-State to work on a master's degree in curriculum and instruction in spring 2012.

* Aaron Kadavy, agricultural communications and journalism, Munden, was a resident assistant on the agriculture cluster floor in Haymaker Hall, College of Agriculture Ambassador and member of the K-State Proud advisory board and Ag Communicators of Tomorrow. "My experiences at K-State have provided an opportunity to learn and grow in unimaginable ways. My faith in God has grown as a result of my experiences, and I have met some incredible people along the way. The people I've met and the experiences I've had will certainly stay with me for the rest of my life," Kadavy said. He will participate in the Intensive Training Project in Pasadena, Calif., this summer. He'll then move to Memphis, Tenn., to take part in the Emerging Leaders Program through DownLine Ministries.

* Heather Houchen, public relations, Overland Park, was director of public relations for the Student Governing Association, Union Governing Board member, Union Corporate Board vice president, Chi Omega sorority's 2008 New Member of the Year and Panhellenic Council director of community and internal relations. "My involvement here at K-State has polished my skills and better prepared me to be successful in future endeavors. My past leadership has given me opportunities to network with other K-Staters and people around the world. I'm so thankful for the people I have met and the opportunities I have been granted during my time at K-State," Houchen said. After graduation she will be a business consultant at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City.

* Rebecca Sullivan, agricultural communications and journalism, Paola, served as director of training and development for Blue Key senior honorary; was a member of the K-State Proud advisory board and was co-chair of the 2010-2011 K-State Proud campaign; was a member of Student Alumni Board and the K-State Student Foundation; was a College of Agriculture Ambassador, serving as vice president of development and ag training program coordinator; was a Kansas FFA officer from 2006-2007 and national FFA officer from 2007-2008; was a small group teacher for the Introduction to Leadership class in 2009; and was a member of Silver Key sophomore honorary and Quest freshman honorary. "Taking on a leadership role in many K-State groups, especially K-State Proud, has taught me the value and appreciation for serving others. It was a huge paradigm shift coming from high school and thinking that titles were what made a leader. At K-State, I have seen full circle that the best leaders are the ones not seeking fame or the spotlight, but rather looking to simply make a positive difference in the lives of others. This has changed my life by allowing me to see the type of career I would like to follow…one dedicated to serving others," Sullivan said. Her future plans include working for the Kansas secretary of agriculture in the ag marketing branch, where she will be the head coordinator of the department's events, outreach, ag in the classroom and training programs. She also will continue working part-time as a leadership conference consultant for the national FFA.

* Annie Oliver, life sciences, Prairie Village, was 2010-2011 K-State student body vice president. Her Student Senate/Student Governing Association involvement also included serving as speaker pro-tempore in 2009-2010; student senator from 2008-2009; named Most Outstanding Senate Intern for 2007-2008; and serving on and chairing several committees. She also was vice president of Silver Key sophomore honorary; was named the most outstanding applicant of Chimes junior honorary; was a member of Blue Key senior honorary, serving as co-director of Catalyst; Student Alumni Board member; was a member of Quest freshman honorary; and was active in Pi Beta Phi sorority, where she was the 2009-2010 member of the year, vice president for communications and philanthropy chair. "If nothing else, my leadership experiences taught me the power of perseverance. Whether that meant pulling an all-nighter to study for biology tests, working through meetings that lasted until 2 a.m. or later, experiencing several adaptive-leadership challenges, or learning how to develop teamwork with anyone from age 5 to 75. Knowledge and talent are not the keys to success. I have learned that perseverance is what will get you where you want to go in life," Oliver said. She plans to apply to nursing schools.

* Phillip Harner, industrial engineering, St. George, was a K-State Proud co-chair, member of the K-State Student Foundation, Wildcat Week of Welcome coordinator, orientation leader and K-State scholars tour guide. He also was a member of FarmHouse fraternity; Blue Key senior honor society, where he was named William T. Muir Blue Key Man of the Year; Silver Key sophomore honor society; Order of Omega's Up-and-Coming Greek Community Servant of the Year; and served on the University Committee on Governmental Affairs, State Relations Committee, Federal Relations Committee, Student Governing Association Governmental Relations Committee and Student Centered Tuition Enhancement Committee. "My leadership experiences have taught me that above all else it's important to work hard and treat others well. When I let myself start chasing titles or recognition, the quality of what I do diminishes significantly and I put more emphasis on myself and what I want than those around me," Harner said. He will attend Lockheed Martin's Operation Leadership Development Program in Atlanta, Ga., at the end of June, working on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program.

* Morgan Holechek, public relations, Salina, was a public relations intern and student staff/public relations specialist for the School of Leadership Studies, where she also served as class leader for the Introduction to Leadership Concepts course, public relations chair for the Leadership Studies Ambassadors and member of the Leadership Studies Advancement Council. She also was a resident assistant at Boyd Hall, and a member of Mortar Board senior honor society, Phi Eta Sigma national honor society and Public Relations Student Society of America. "In high school I found myself in a lot of leadership positions but without an academic background in the study of leadership and what it means to be a strong leader. Enrolling in the leadership studies course work, combined with my experiences at K-State, has given me a greater perspective on my own leadership style and has created a strength to lead others that I had not practiced in high school. I have learned that leadership is a practice, not a position or title," Holechek said. She will start work at K-State in July as an admissions representative.

* Danielle D. Young, family studies and human services, Ulysses, was president of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma; was a member of Mortar Board senior honor society; was a campus tour guide, special tours coordinator, tour scheduler and Wildcat Warm-up director for new student services; and was in the Frontier Program. "My leadership experiences have given me the opportunity to learn more about myself as a leader by working with others and learning from failure as well as successes," Young said. She plans to pursue a career in special event planning.

* Sarah Woodruff, technology management, Wamego, is giving the student address at May commencement for K-State Salina. A K-State honors list student since fall 2009, she was a member of Students in Free Enterprise and active with the K-State Salina Student Governing Association, serving as 2010-2011 student body vice president and 2009-2010 webmaster. "My leadership experiences have made me more confident and comfortable working with different types of people and accepting all of the different ideas everyone has to offer," Woodruff said. She plans to pursue a career in digital media.

* Samuel Brinton, mechanical engineering and vocal music performance, Perry, Iowa, was president of several groups, including LGBT and Allies, American Nuclear Society, Engineering Student Council, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Men's Glee Club. He was speaker pro tempore of the Student Senate, fraternity education officer for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a member of Delta Lambda Phi, and received the Commerce Bank Presidential Student Award for Distinguished Service in Enhancing Multiculturalism and the National Voice and Action Leadership Award from Campus Pride. Brinton also was a Truman Scholarship nominee, outstanding freshman and sophomore of the department of music and outstanding junior of the department of mechanical engineering. "As I led Student Senate I was always quick to remind my peers that we were there to represent the voices of every student on the K-State campus. I have learned I am only a leader if I can listen to those who I'm trying to serve," Brinton said. His plans include earning master's degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in technology and policy and in nuclear engineering, then attending Harvard Law School and pursuing a career in international nuclear policy advising. His ultimate goal is to be named the U.S. secretary of energy one day.

* Ryan Wilkerson, finance and accounting, Columbia, Mo., was a member of Blue Key senior honorary and was active with the K-State Student Foundation, serving as president, vice president and secretary. He was elected K-State's 2010 Student Ambassador and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity and the Student Alumni Board. "Throughout college I've had the opportunity to work with leaders of the K-State Proud Campaign. This campaign has helped me understand the importance of philanthropy and giving back. The lessons I've learned through this campaign have impacted me and I plan to work closely with philanthropy for the remainder of my life," Wilkerson said. He will graduate in December 2011.

* Jack Mosimann, finance, Lee's Summit, Mo., received the Gates Capital Management Scholarship, K-State Legacy Scholarship, Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society Scholarship, H. Phillip Howe Academic Excellence Scholarship and Dean's Choice Scholarship. He was president of Mortar Board senior honor society, recruitment chair of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, small group teacher for leadership studies and a member of the K-State Student Life Advisory Committee and K-State Advancement Council. "Throughout my time as a Wildcat, leadership experiences allowed me to grasp the concept that the world is larger than just one person. So often we only look at life from our own perspective. But while assisting hundreds of underprivileged elementary students, I was able to see how much change we need to enhance lives. As 10-time NCAA national championship coach John Wooden once said, 'You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you,'" Mosimann said. His future plans include working with the Kansas City Royals minor league system in Idaho Falls, Idaho. His goal is to one day become a general manager for a Major League Baseball club.