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K-State Today Student Edition

February 17, 2012



Recognizing service: Blue Key Senior Honorary receives several awards at national conference

By Communications & Marketing

The 2011-2012 Blue Key class

Kansas State University's chapter of Blue Key Senior Honorary has frequently ranked among the nation's best, and this year is no different. 

The chapter, which has been the recipient of countless awards and recognition for its leadership and self-development programs as well as its overall membership, received more awards and recognition at the 2012 Blue Key National Conference, Jan. 13-15, in Naperville, Ill. The chapter received several individual honors and one group award for its efforts. 

Michael Ellis, senior in biology and pre-medicine, Overland Park, received the President's Award for the most outstanding Blue Key chapter president. Ellis was also elected to the Blue Key national board of directors. Three students nationwide serve on the national board. Service carries a two-year term and involves attendance at the next two Blue Key national conferences as well as a significant role in determining the direction of the society. 

Courtney Hallenbeck, senior in political science and international studies, Junction City, and a fellow K-State Blue Key member, says it is evident that Ellis has a passion for all aspects of Blue Key. 

"Mike is a fantastic example of what it means to be a committed leader while balancing school, work and planning for life after college," she said. "As president, he genuinely takes the time to learn about the lives of each member and the unique skills that they bring to the team dynamic." 

Hallenbeck received the Exemplary Blue Key Member Award for leadership, scholarship and service. She is the director of uLead, a Blue Key program that offers leadership seminars to high schools throughout the state of Kansas. The programs are also offered on the college level for student organizations. Topics covered include everything from time management to goal setting. 

Ellis says Hallenbeck provides great leadership behind the scenes. 

"Courtney stands out," he said. "She is a great supporter of everyone and instills a great level of confidence in Blue Key. Courtney is not only a great member of Blue Key, she is a great friend to everyone." 

Jackie McClaskey, adjunct faculty in the College of Agriculture and co-adviser for Blue Key, received the Outstanding Adviser Award for advising, guidance and dedication to chapter excellence. McClaskey's commitment to Blue Key is even more significant given she serves as assistant secretary for the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Even though she works in Topeka, McClaskey still commits considerable time to advancing Blue Key, according to Ellis. 

"She puts so much time into her job and the fact that she has even an hour to spare after that is amazing," Ellis said. "Jackie really turned Blue Key around and made it what it is today, which is a focus on leadership development instead of homecoming or random service events. She could have won this award any year." 

Blue Key was also recognized for Catalyst, a leadership and self-development program for undergraduates, with the Outstanding Feature Award for a special feature or contribution to campus life. Blue Key members instruct Catalyst participants in weekly classes that include reading books such as "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Catalyst members also hear from national speakers on related issues. Previously, Catalyst was only for freshman; that has changed in recent years. 

"It's really evolved into a self-development program for all undergraduates from a freshman focus," Ellis said. "I think having that evolution really evoked a strong emotion among Blue Key to choose Catalyst for that award." 

Taking part in Blue Key's numerous activities has been a rewarding process for both Ellis and Hallenbeck.

"I truly feel that we have ownership within Blue Key and are able to go as far as our imaginations take us with our work," Hallenbeck said. "I love that we not only work with current K-State students, but also with high school students and teachers across the state."