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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
1525 Mid-Campus Drive North
Manhattan, KS 66506

February 18, 2020

K-State First and KSBN present 2019 awards

Submitted by Mariya Vaughan

K-State First and the K-State Book Network present the winners for the 2019 First-Year Student Advocate and K-State Book Network Awards. On Feb. 13, K-State First had an awards dinner at The Table in JP's Bar and Grill, hosted by our Housing and Dining Services partners, which included a brief ceremony to celebrate the success of these amazing students and faculty members in addition to announcing the new common book for 2020, "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind."

First-Year Advocate Awards — The First-Year Advocate Award celebrates faculty and students who demonstrate the mission of K-State First in the following ways:

  • A commitment to student engagement in university-level learning and academic success for first-year students.
  • A strong focus on academic excellence in first-year students.
  • A dedication to community for first-year students.
  • An emphasis on diversity when engaging first-year students.
  • An ability to empower first-year students.
  • A willingness to help first-year students find purpose and achievement in their personal lives and future careers.

The 2019 First-Year Advocate Award faculty winner is Mike Finnegan. Finnegan's nominators emphasized his encouragement and holistic support of students from their first moment on campus to beyond graduation. One nominator notes, "He truly invests in individuals and it is evident by how he encourages them, supports them, challenges them and coaches them. His teaching philosophy is created from three things: care, encourage and set high expectations. Mike is passionate about working with students and it is evident to see every time you walk by his office." Additionally, one of Finnegan's students highlighted the impact he had on them, "Mike is the reason I chose K-State. He allowed me to reflect and find my passions and sense of purpose within the K-State Community from one single campus visit. He is one of the most intentional humans I know."

The 2019 First-Year Advocate Award student winner is Krista Everhart. Everhart's nominators spoke of her positive attitude and overall impact on the K-State First program as an engaged student ambassador. "Krista is an empathetic, driven, and engaging student leader, who has worked hard to pay forward the opportunities she feels she gained from our K-State First program." One of Everhart's peers also noted, "I knew that Krista genuinely cared about others, however, she still amazed me with her dedication in educating and assisting first-year students. I am forever grateful that Krista has such strong leadership abilities because her skills help people, like me and first-year students, improve themselves every day."

Jared Meitler and Susan Rensing were also nominated for the First-Year Advocate Award because of their outstanding work with and for first-year students. Congratulations to all of these amazing individuals. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to first-year students.

KSBN Awards — The KSBN Awards celebrate the common experiences shared at K-State with the common book. The award winners all worked hard to foster student engagement, enhance students’ educational experience, expand the consideration of new ideas, values, and concepts in the classroom and in the university community, and use creative applications of the themes from the 2019 common book, "Darius the Great Is Not Okay." The student awards are made possible by the generosity of Bill Miller and Debbie Leckron Miller.

The winner of the 2019 KSBN faculty award is Traci Brimhall, associate professor of English. She leads The Art of Healthcare CAT Community, which introduces students to the many dimensions of our life cycle and health care. She used a holistic approach to "Darius the Great Is Not Okay" that engaged students inside and outside of the classroom. In class, her students connected the book to other assigned readings, with much of their conversation focused on mental health. Beyond the classroom, students reflected on Adib Khorram's author talk and shared their cultural connection to food. Much like tea is important to Darius, her students shared a recipe that had an important connection to their lives and talked about the rituals and cultural holidays around food. Students brought samples of the food for others to taste or brought a canned good to donate to K-State's food pantry, Cats' Cupboard.

The winner of the 2019 KSBN student award is Leah Hennes, a freshman in English. Her submission was an engaging literary analysis of "Darius the Great Is Not Okay." In her analysis, she discussed how Khorram's repeated use of phrases like "Red Alert,'' "categorically opposed" and "Social Cues" influence how his novel is read and enrich the story while providing useful commentary on the book.

Take a moment to reach out and congratulate these amazing people and the work they have done. We thank all of the award winners and nominees for making the first-year experience great for K-State students!