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Source: Monica Strathman, 785-532-0673,
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535,

Thursday, May 19, 2011


MANHATTAN -- Several members of the Kansas State University chapter of Phi Eta Sigma, the national freshman honor society, are receiving national and local scholarship awards for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Phi Eta Sigma was founded in 1923 to honor and recognize academic excellence among first-year college students; membership is lifetime upon induction. Although the primary purpose of the organization is honoring academics, its focus is on community service. The scholarship selection committee looks for applicants who demonstrate a commitment to service and to the organization.

K-State Phi Eta Sigma members earning scholarships include:

Parker Rayl, junior in biology, Hutchinson, received a $6,000 Distinguished Member Scholarship from the national scholarship committee. Rayl also received a local award for $350. He is active in the local chapter and serves as vice president. Rayl served on the search committee for the national Phi Eta Sigma board of directors. He has been involved in the Red Cross blood drive, Telefund, Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry honorary and Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-health honor society. Rayl works in a campus genetics research laboratory and has earned several research awards and scholarships. He has written two fiction books and is currently working on a third. He also is a tutor at the Douglass Community Center. He plans to attend the University of Kansas School of Medicine after graduating from K-State.

Chris Meyers, senior in finance, Olathe, received a $1,000 award from the national scholarship committee. Meyers is active in the local chapter, where he's served as webmaster and secretary. He is a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and Student Finance Association. Meyers is a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and has served as vice president and executive council chair. He has also served as director of risk management and social responsibility committee officer for the Interfraternity Council. Meyers has been an intern for former Congressman Dennis Moore. He plans to attend law school after graduating. He is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Also receiving local scholarships for $350 were:

Jeni Kemnitz, junior in elementary education, Manhattan; and Rachel Helmke, senior in psychology, Tecumseh.

Monica Strathman, chapter adviser and business manager for the School of Leadership Studies, believes the scholarships signal the chapter's strength.

"The Kansas State chapter of Phi Eta Sigma has become much more active and involved in the community during the past few years and these scholarship awards are a reflection of that," she said. "We have incredible students at Kansas State and I am privileged to witness them doing amazing things every day."

The local chapter is engaged in various service activities, including: serving as volunteer tutors for the Douglass Community Center's after-school program; serving community dinners; and bell ringing for the Salvation Army around Christmas. The chapter forms a Relay for Life team each year and is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research at K-State.

The K-State Phi Eta Sigma chapter received the Celebrating People in Action Community Service Award as the outstanding K-State student organization in April. The award is given to the student organizations promoting an ethic of service on and off campus, demonstrating commitment by involving others in service and effectively mobilizing diverse populations on campus to address an issue of importance in the community.