On Wednesday, October 3rd, 18 members of the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows Program were southbound on an adventure to Waco, Texas. Just a few days before the Kansas State Wildcats took on the Baylor Bears, students from both universities decided to look beyond their rivalry, and instead, found unity in community service and leadership during the first-ever Big XII Leadership and Service Days.
The purpose of the Leadership and Service Days is to cultivate connections across conference competitors through joint leadership and service projects. Current resident Snyder Fellow, Ashley Anderson and Staley School of Leadership Studies Coordinator of Partnerships, Marcia Hornung initiated the service effort in hopes of continuing to partner with other Big XII schools in the future while achieving more social and service opportunities.
“We modeled our trip to Waco and Baylor after the existing Alternative Breaks program through the Staley School of Leadership Studies, where students work with local residents to learn how their host communities are addressing pressing social issues and serve with the community during their trip.” said Hornung.
“One of the qualities I appreciate about Coach Snyder is that he frequently writes notes and contacts coaches and players of other teams that we play in football, to let someone know that he is proud of a particular accomplishment, either on or off the football field,” said Hornung. “Building upon Coach’s concept, I thought it could be a fun and powerful learning experience to take some of the work we are currently doing, and partner with another Big XII institution to promote positive relationships within our conference, learn about another community and the challenges and opportunities that are present, while serving in the community in a meaningful way.”
“We wanted to give the Fellows an opportunity work with a people outside the Kansas State and Manhattan communities. Especially since a lot of institutions focus on competition, we wanted to bring the universities together to build a relationship as opposed to a sports rivalry,” said Anderson. “In the future, we hope to continue to work across institution lines to increase awareness of other Big XII university service cultures.”
The first day in Waco was packed full of activities as the students volunteered at Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry, stacking vegetables, cleaning, and serving customers. The Snyder Fellows also had the opportunity to tour Baylor’s campus, learn about the history of Waco, and enjoy lunch at a bakery and café called “Lula Jane’s,” where students met and shared conversation with the owner, Dr. Nancy Grayson.
Tori Burkhart, Snyder Fellow and senior in Advertising, shared how “Lula Janes’” was her favorite part of the trip. “Nancy provided new perspectives, ideas, and a breath of fresh air into all of us. Her drive to positively impact her community is truly inspiring. Hearing from her was definitely a highlight of the trip!”
“It was so much fun to get to experience a different college town and campus with the other fellows. We bonded a lot over those few days and learned so much from each other,” said Jill Seidl, senior in Criminology. “Helping the Waco community, getting to learn about the history and people was such an awesome experience that I’m lucky to have had! Also, attending my first away football game was something I won’t forget.”
“I loved working at the community garden where Kaine Frederickson and I harvested okra for an hour and a half. I love okra, but I never knew how it grew and was harvested. Most of the produce grew at the farm goes back to the community to promote healthy eating habits,” said Zac Donley, senior in Life Science.
Following service at the YMCA, Baylor University faculty members, Doug and Suzanne Nesmith, along with Doug’s parents, Ken and Joyce Nesmith, who are Kansas State alumni, hosted the Snyder Fellows for a dinner and gathering. Ken played football and ran track for Kansas State in the 1950’s.
“After speaking with Joyce, we discovered that we were sorority sisters! Right away, we hugged and took pictures. It was really special! As the night progressed Joyce was telling me stories of her time at Kansas State and in Alpha Xi Delta. It was such a special bond to form and have with her,” said Maria Martinez, senior in Animal Science. “I’ll never forget that night because it was so sweet and was the definition of what it means to be part of the K-State Family and a sisterhood!”
On Saturday, Snyder Fellows cheered on the Cats in McLane Stadium and had the honor of being recognized on the field during the third quarter. After the game, the fellows made the 9-hour journey back to Manhattan.
“It might sound trivial, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was the van rides. We were able to learn so much about each other and debrief all the work we were doing,” said Donley.
Staley School program and project coordinator, Dominique Hoover joined the fellows in Waco and expressed what it was like to be a faculty member on the trip. “While debriefing after each situation, I attempted to raise the heat within the group. I think the students grew the most during debrief sessions as they had a chance to discuss their experiences from different points of views with their peers.”
Kevin Escobar, a senior in Civil Engineering, shared that the trip truly allowed the Snyder Fellows to grow closer with one another. “It was a unique opportunity for 18 of us to be there and to spend five days together learning, growing, and serving. A five-day trip with 18 of your peers is not an experience that everyone gets to have.”
“I had no idea what type of culture to expect but when we arrived, I found Waco to be a very traditional place. It was amazing to work with many different types of people,” said Michael McKinney, senior in Feed Sciences and Management. “It was truly an awesome experience to travel to Waco and be a part of something much bigger than myself.”
“I enjoyed seeing the fellows in action outside of a structured classroom and facilitated workshops. From and outside perspective, I got to see them put the skills into practice that we have been teaching them,” said Anderson. “We hope for our students to continue to engage with the individuals they interacted with over the course of the trip in the future.”
Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows is a year-long leadership development program for students at K-State, who are in their final year of undergraduate studies. The program is offered by the Staley School of Leadership Studies, in partnership with K-State Athletics. The program was developed to honor Hall of Fame Coach Bill Snyder, and his work as a teacher and a developer of leaders. The application period for the 2019-2020 class of Snyder Fellows will open in January 2019. Interested students who will graduate during next 2020 calendar year are encouraged to apply. More information can be found at the Staley School of Leadership Studies website, www.ksu.edu/leadership.
Written by Snyder Fellow, Anna Siggers