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Beyond the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, alumni building businesses and giving back to Phoenix

Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013



MANHATTAN -- Thousands of Kansas State University fans will paint the Valley of the Sun purple again this year, as the Wildcats return to the Phoenix area, this year for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday.

Some of those fans and alumni call the Phoenix area home and are building businesses and giving back to their community at the same time.

Ben Kalkman, CEO and founder of Rocket Media
How he gives back: Creates free websites for organizations such as AZA United, Boys & Girls Club and United Food Bank

Ben Kalkman is the rocket man of media.

Before founding Rocket Media -- one of Phoenix's top Web design firms -- Kalkman's entrepreneurial spirit took off during his days at Kansas State University.

"College is where I learned how to be an entrepreneur," Kalkman said. "I had to figure out things on my own when going through school -- how to adjust to classes, how to get homework done, how to adjust to living on my own. That is its own entrepreneurial process."

Read more about Ben Kalkman.

Dawn Rundle, founder and artist of Creative Murals and Faux
How she gives back: Paints murals for public schools in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, charging only for material costs

Dawn Rundle specializes in murals that trick the eye, but her success is no illusion. The Kansas State University graduate is renowned for her larger-than-life murals, as well as for her charity work for children in the Phoenix area.

She earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts from Kansas State University in 1992, and said her art classes pushed her in ways she'd never been challenged before as an artist.

"K-State helped me develop my passion into a career," Rundle said. "I'm able to be successful today because of my natural skill as well as my K-State background."

Read more about Dawn Rundle.

Larry Metheney, veterinarian focusing on performance horses
How he gives back: Helps horses that have performance deficits and with horse rescues

Larry Metheney graduated from Kansas State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1978. That summer he moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where he would become a racetrack practitioner at Turf Paradise for 26 years.

He continues to practice veterinary medicine in Phoenix today, primarily focusing on performance horses. He has cared for thousands of horses in his career. At one time it was not unusual for Metheney to have five to eight ex-racehorses that he had adopted at his house.

"With the downturn in the economy, a lot of people couldn't afford horses and many were abandoned," he said.

Read more about Larry Metheney.

Kris James, founder of ScottsdaleTennisLessons.com
How he gives back: help promising young tennis players reach the next level and get to college

The secret to finding success, whether in school, sports or the business world?

A Kansas State University graduate has the answer: Find something you love to do because you'll work hard at it.

It's advice that has served Kris James -- or "KJ" -- well on the tennis courts, in earning his college degree and in the corporate world. It's also behind James' decision to start his own business in the Phoenix metro area, ScottsdaleTennisLessons.com, and help promising young tennis players reach the next level.

"Tennis has provided tremendous self-esteem and confidence in my own ability," he said. "It was knowing that when I went on the court, it was me performing, using all my abilities, mental toughness and extensive training in a setting that was one-on-one. Often in life you have to use similar strategies to make decisions and find harmony and balance in life."

Read more about Kris James.


photo credit: matsubatsu via photopincc