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K-State Today

July 29, 2015



K-State First selects new learning assistants for fall semester

By Kylie Kinley

K-State First, the university’s first-year experience program, has selected 35 CAT Community learning assistants and residential learning assistants for the fall 2015 semester.

CAT, or Connecting Across Topics, Communities connect first-year students with similar interests by enrolling them in two general education courses and a one-hour connections course during the fall semester. First-year students benefit from a challenging academic environment and close interaction with K-State faculty members and an undergraduate learning assistant or residential learning assistant.

Learning assistants work with nonresidential and study abroad CAT Communities, while residential learning assistants work with residential CAT Communities. The residential CAT Communities have expanded from six learning communities in fall 2014 to 19 in fall 2015.

Learning assistants are an integral part of the success of the CAT Communities. They serve as peer mentors for each CAT Community, providing students with social and academic support during their first semester of college. Learning assistants help plan and facilitate the one-hour connections course. They also plan social and educational activities outside of the classroom and serve as model students for their first-year students. Students involved in K-State First classes such as the CAT Community program have higher grade point averages, higher first-to-second-year retention rates, and higher graduation rates than students who do not enroll in K-State First classes.

New learning assistants, their community and respective faculty:

Nonresidential CAT Communities

  • Erica Schmitz, The Art of Engineering, Stacy Hutchinson
  • Drew Young, The Art of Engineering, Stacy Hutchinson
  • Sri Sankar, The Art of Engineering, Stacy Hutchinson
  • Bryan Davis, Business Decisions and Economic Uncertainty, Brian Arthaud-Day
  • Kayla Van Thullenar, The Business of Hospitality, Nancy Hansen King
  • Claire Tolentino, Gender, Diversity, Morality, Gabriela Diaz De Sabates
  • Jonah Hall, Law and Society, Don Wilson and Daralyn Arata
  • Karly Frederick, Leadership For Agricultural Advocacy, Kerry Priest
  • Ian Jolliffe, The Need for Feed: Grain Science, David Krishock
  • Korynne Rollins, Pre-Physical Therapy, Robert Pettay
  • Hope Rietcheck, Predicting the Future: Mind vs. Math, Michael Young
  • Cooper Clawson, Profitability in Livestock Enterprises, Don Boggs
  • Joseph Banning, Understanding the Weather, John Harrington
  • Bianca Rodriguez, Who Will You Be, Anna Goins

Study Abroad CAT Communities

  • Jessica Pennybacker, Spanish in Action, Laura Kanost
  • Madison May, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, Matthew Yates

Residential CAT Communities

  • Molly Ridder, American Story, Charles Sanders
  • Samantha Estabrook, AP Design Community, Lisa Last
  • MacKenzie Wade, The Art of Hacking Culture, Michael Wesch and Matt Garcia
  • Shaun Dowdell, Be the Change: Social Justice, Don Kurtz
  • Sarah Green, Before the Crisis: Public Health, Nancy Muturi
  • Lukas Sprick, Brain Games: The Biology Behind Behavior, Stephen Kiefer
  • Carolyn Countess, The Engineering Community, Emily Dringenberg
  • Brandon Heide, First Scholars, Kiley Moody
  • Jenna Snell, Health Care for the Heartland: Rural Medicine, Kent Kerby
  • Maggie Stanton, Making the Ultimate Playlist, Alfred Cochran
  • Erwin Chege, Next Generation Journalism, Kim Baltrip
  • Parker Heinze, Psychology of Prejudice, Don Saucier
  • Zayra Soto, Strengths, Mike Finnegan
  • Madison Graber, Strengths, Stephanie Bannister
  • Charday Long, Strengths, Tamara Bauer
  • Zach Doll, Sustainability and You, Shawn Hutchinson
  • Jael Whitney, Talking Physics, Scott Valasquez
  • Sarah Pennington, What Not to Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Kim Hiller
  • Jordan Thomas, World-Makers: Social Entrepreneurship, Michael Wesch and Chad Jackson