Connected 'Cats student leaders bring K-State experiences to Kansas communities
Friday, Sept. 23, 2022
Kady Figge, junior in agricultural communications and journalism, Onaga, center, tells her K-State story at the Flint Hills community visit open forum while Mark Estares, master's student in accounting and finance, Junction City, left, and President Richard Linton listen. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Members of a new group of Kansas State University student leaders are sharing their K-State stories around the state.
The Connected 'Cats are a new class of students who are providing leadership during the presidential community visits. The presidential initiative focuses on the people of Kansas and their communities. Every academic year, K-State is visiting nine communities throughout the state to listen and learn from the Kansans who live there.
The student experience is a central piece of the community visits, and Connected 'Cats are leading and connecting with Kansas communities in a variety of ways before, during and after the visits. Connected 'Cats have a diverse range of K-State experiences, a meaningful connection to engaged community work and personal ties to the geographic regions for this academic year's community visits.
"Highlighting the student experience is central to each of the community visits," said Jeff Ebeck, senior in finance and economics, Wellsville. "Allowing students to authentically tell their stories in their own hometowns is how we continue to build or connect within each community."
The Connected 'Cats students attend a weekly class through the Staley School of Leadership. The class is taught by Ebeck; Mary Tolar, dean and Mary Lynn and Warren Staley Chair for Leadership; and Emily Lehning, director of the presidential regional community visit initiative.
"The class is filled with great energy as students reflect on their experiences, learn more about the university’s mission and activities, and develop new skills," Tolar said. "Witnessing the depth of connection and commitment our students have to both K-State and their home communities is inspiring."
During the planning and implementation of the presidential regional community visits, Connected 'Cats serve in one of two roles: student event leaders and student engagement leaders.
For each community visit, student event leaders from that community tell their K-State stories and help to lead the day's events. These students have a personal connection to their assigned sites.
Student engagement leaders play an active role in planning and implementing all of the community visits throughout the fall and spring semesters. They engage campus and community partners to develop and deliver preparation to the K-State team; provide logistical support; and serve as event day facilitators for community dialogue and engagement.
"Our Connected 'Cats student leaders add a tremendous amount of value to our planning and implementation," Lehning said. "In the process, the students also gain valuable skills in event planning, facilitation, communication and problem solving. They are essentially putting into practice the skills they are learning in their K-State degree programs."
The following students are the event and engagement leaders for the 2022-2023 academic year series of presidential regional community visits. Learn more about each of the Connected 'Cats.
Marissa Ramirez, senior in construction science and management, and Citlali Real, sophomore in architecture, Dodge City; Tram Pham, senior in accounting and finance, and Jade Valdez-Gomez, junior in dietetics, Garden City; Jaye Hrencher, junior in marketing, and Reagan Riley, senior in human development and family science, Hiawatha; Mark Estares, master's student in accounting and finance, Junction City; Rosa Cano, junior in human resources management, and Malik Jenkins, senior in life science and pre-veterinary medicine, Kansas City; Avanelle Stoltz, junior in biological systems engineering, Leawood; Stacia Mendoza, senior in finance, Lenexa; Joshua Diazdeleon, senior in elementary education, Liberal; Alycen Berridge, senior in elementary education, Nickerson; Kady Figge, junior in agricultural communications and journalism, Onaga; Camden Mayfield, senior in mechanical engineering, Overland Park; Ethan Brown, junior in marketing, Adelaide Easter, sophomore in bakery science and management and food science and industry, and Gage Roberts, master's student in regional & community planning, Salina; Parker Reagan Vulgamore, senior in agricultural economics and pre-law, Scott City; Tyler Burns, junior in accounting, and Mackenzie Waggoner, junior in agricultural communications and journalism, Topeka; Kaleo Vincent, senior in athletic training and rehabilitation sciences, Valley Center; and Christopher Burrell, senior in mechanical engineering, and Totty Norwood, sophomore in English, Wichita.
From out of state: Svea Knight, senior in dietetics, Grafton, Massachusetts; Dakota Cherney, senior in journalism and mass communications, Chester, Nebraska; and Colleen Fulton, junior in psychology and sociology, Loup City, Nebraska.