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Source: Carmen Ellis,
Note to editors: Carmen Ellis is a 2004 graduate of Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kan.
News release prepared by: Nellie Ryan, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Carmen Ellis, a senior in elementary education, Kansas City, Kan., had an unusual journey to becoming a student at Kansas State University. Now, as president of K-State's Black Student Union, Ellis wants to impact all students across campus.

"Just because it is called the Black Student Union does not mean it is only for black students," Ellis said. "We represent everyone on campus."

Ellis' journey to becoming president of Black Student Union started after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. She was attending a historically black college in the New Orleans area at the time. To move out of harm's way, she evacuated to Houston. Her plan was to wait until the storm was over and return to New Orleans to continue college -- but things did not work out that way.

"My college was not the same after Katrina; the whole city was destroyed," Ellis said. "I had just changed my major to elementary education. Many of the teachers I needed had moved away, and certain classes were unavailable to take, so I decided to move back home to Kansas City."

When Ellis arrived back in Kansas City, she began classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which had offered to pay her tuition. However, she eventually decided she needed to be a little farther from home and thought that K-State would be the perfect fit.

Ellis really wanted to get involved in the multicultural community at K-State when she arrived in Manhattan. Being African-American and previously attending a historically black college, she wanted to keep in touch with her cultural roots. She joined K-State's Black Student Union in 2006. Although her focus was geared more toward school, she said she tried to attend meetings and contribute as much as she could to the organization.

"Eventually, I told the previous president that I really wanted to run for president," Ellis said. "I wanted to make a difference because I see a lot of separation amongst students on campus. I wanted to see a change and make connections among not just black students, but the whole campus community."

As president, Ellis originated the Black Student Union's theme of I.M.P.A.C.T., which stands for Impacting Multicultural People Around the Campus Today.

"I love that I have the power to impact people," Ellis said. "I want to empower people to reach out and help others. It is a trickle down effect. We all have to stand up and impact someone's life and I love being there to show people the way."

More information about K-State's Black Student Union is available online at or by contacting Ellis at