Kansas State University


Student Stories


Wildcats Fight the “Comfort Zone”


Meet Joe Tinker, a Junior in Psychology and the newly elected student body Vice President of Kansas State University. While it’s impossible to describe Joe in a few sentences… His ability to quote the Office on cue and his dedication to cheering on all KSU sports are just a few of his unique qualities. His influence on students at K-State comes down to his genuine care about us as individuals and as a student body. I owe many of my accomplishments to Joe’s support and encouragement. I can honestly say, I know he’s going to be a life-long friend. In this guest blog, Joe writes about the true meaning of what the K-State family is, friendship. I encourage you to read his testament to what K-State is truly about. -Cajsa 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today’s society has waged a war on the individual. It stresses conformity over self-expression. This philosophy is perpetuated by the socially constructed safety area that we call the “Comfort Zone”. The comfort zone is a dangerous place that the world has devised to avoid any sort of conflict or rocking of the boat. It strips us of all of the qualities that make us unique while preaching compliance above all. It is a sanctuary for mediocrity; a refuge that you can go where you’ll never fail and never grow. It’s scary to think that some people live under this shelter their entire lives and lack the courage to live out their true mission. The truth is, you were not made to live in the comfort zone. You were made to radiate to others the greatness that lies deep inside of you.

The comfort zone manifests itself as something different to everybody. To some, it may be avoiding that inner voice that we know is right but lack the courage to follow and accept the difficult but positive change that it will bring. To others, the comfort zone is a mask that we put on to hide our true self from the world. Nobody wants to be the weird kid in the room, so we fabricate a false identity in order to fit in. Think of someone that you think is “weird.” Are they not just being their true selves? How can we judge someone who deeply knows their personal mission and cares little about conformist worldly expectations?

“People won’t like me if they get to know the real me,” we reason. We hide our true strengths from others because we are worried about what others will think if they ever truly knew us. Courageous is the person who knows this fact yet still chooses to be themselves. We need to realize that nothing will ever work better for us than being exactly who we were made to be. You can’t be someone else, because they are already taken. Life begins when you let go of the false identity you constructed for yourself and allow the fiery passion that lies deep within to lead you to a wellspring of true and perpetual happiness.

If you are worried about what people will think of the real you, then it’s time to re-evaluate who you are with. Surround yourself with people that identify qualities in you that you don’t even see yourself- both positive and negative- and are willing to tell you them. I’m so fortunate to have met such authentic and sincere individuals at K-State that I get to call my true friends. These are the people that ask the tough questions, refuse to accept mediocrity, and push you to your absolute breaking point because they know your potential. Someone who suppresses your natural strengths and is disinterested in your passions is not someone worthy of knowing the real you. A “friend” who always tells you just what you want to hear is not a friend. There is no room for the comfort zone in true friendship. True friendship is emotionally exhausting and just downright painful at times. And it should be this way- as it is through these grueling struggles that we come to know ourself and flourish into the leader that we were created to be. It has been the highest privilege to spend quality time with the friends that I’ve made at K-State, and I am forever indebted to their selfless example of character and affection. 

Joseph Campbell says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Today is the day you release yourself from the chains that are holding you back. Today is the day that you refuse the mediocrity that society offers.

Today is the day that your new life begins. Embrace it.

EMAW, Joe Tinker

Cats for Change: Adopting a Healthy Life Style

Picture by Nicollette Caselman

Big changes happen in college. Yes, mentally… you learn some things, but usually you experience some physical changes as well. We’re all familiar with the “freshman 15” which, unfortunately, seems a little too easy to accomplish. Some of you may be terrible cooks, especially compared to your parents’ (In my case, my mama’s) home cooking. Unless you’re blessed with the Derb’s meal plan, you may even experience weight loss. Whatever your situation, making your health a priority is something we should all take seriously. It may seem hard to do this with your new class schedule and the desire to watch multiple hours on Netflix to de-stress, but making time for exercise and nutrition can help you stay calm, prepare you for class, and may reduce the risk of getting the bug that everyone seems to be catching this week. K-State has some great resources to look into… and they are actually fun. Here are a few different ideas for you to try out your first semester without horizontal running (watch Pitch Perfect if you want to be cool and get that reference).

1.) The Konza Prairie is an ideal place for a relaxing hike. There are three different loops for you to hike depending on your fitness level. Go with a group or by yourself and enjoy being out in the wideopen space. The views will take your breath away, as well as the insanely long hill. This should be on everyone’s collegiate bucket list to do before they graduate. It takes a little time to drive there, but I promise it’s worth it. BONUS: If you’re a selfie lover, this is your perfect opportunity to snap a new profile pic, as well.

2.) Radina’s coffee shop is a great place to drink a green Smoothie from . A Radina’s is conveniently located right on campus in the Staley School of Leadership Studies. They’re delicious and jam packed with fruits and veggies. Plus, if you have a Campus Special coupon book they usually have a “buy one get one free drink “ ticket at the beginning of the semester. Go with a friend and help your body fight off the cold this fall.

3.) UFM has some great classes that you can sign up for. You can take these for credit or non-credit (the cheaper option). These classes range from archery to belly dancing -which I may or may not have signed up for already… Signing up for a class can help you stay committed, plus it’s a great way to learn a new skill and meet new friends.

4.) Utilize the Rec. It’s free for students if you’re a full time student (don’t forget to bring your ID). You don’t have to be a body builder to enjoy the resources it provides. The Rec offers free classes including Zumba, yoga, body pump,etc….. For a full schedule check it out online (http://recservices.k-state.edu/). Also, the rock-climbing wall is legit and provides a really fun, amazing arm work out without picking up the weights.

5.)  The Natatorium is another free resource. Like to swim? Swimming is low impact (perfect if you’re dealing with any injuries), but still offers a killer workout. If you’re feeling brave, the high dive is a way to get your adrenaline kick and help those endorphins flow. Happy thoughts peeps.

6.) Manhattan Running Company (http://manhattanrunningco.com/) has products to help enhance your workout. A local store in Manhattan that specializes in making sure you are in the proper gear. Making sure you’re in the right shoe is crucial to how you perform and helping prevent you from getting injured. When you only have ten minutes to catch your next class on campus, you know how important comfy shoes are. Plus the owners are awesome. They’re also my bosses 🙂

Remember, these are just a few suggestions to help you get the semester off to a healthy start! If you can think of more ideas, please comment below! I would love to hear how you take time for yourself to keep physically and mentally balanced. As a bonus, being in excellent shape will support all that tailgating and wabashing at the next home game. EMAW.

Cheers, Cajsa

A year in the life

As the new year gently unravels, many tend to reflect upon the past 12 months as a way to bring closure and look ahead to what’s to come. As a self-proclaimed list aficionado, I find myself clicking on almost every “year-end” article shared on Facebook and take great interest in how others recap their year—whether through a list of favorite albums, movies, or even moments in pop culture.  As a college student, all of those things play a large part in my day-to-day life; but as you can probably assume, school plays the main role. In hopes of shedding some light on what a year in college actually looks like, I’m going to share with you a (somewhat Sparknotes) rendition of the most significant moments of my year at K-State:

THE ‘CATS: We kicked off the year by going to watch our beloved ‘Cats battle in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Tons of students road trip down (even though the drive was more than 13 hours!) so it was a blast getting to cheer on our football team with thousands of members of the Family.  Additionally, attending games throughout the year is always a highlight and has created some of my fondest memories.

MAJORS AND MINORS: At the beginning of the year, I finally made the transition from a Marketing major to a Pre-Journalism and Mass Communications student. I begin taking classes in the JMC school in the spring and later applied and officially became an Advertising major in the fall. Although it took me a little longer to finally figure it out, I couldn’t be happier with my academic path and, at last, feel fully connected with my curriculum, fellow students, and faculty.

GREEK LIFE: After falling in love with our chapter’s national philanthropy as a underclassman, I decided to apply for Philanthropy Chair—and was lucky enough to get it! Our chapter has an event each semester, so I was in charge of coordinating both and getting the chapter excited. We helped raise over $6,500 for our national philanthropy, Make-A-Wish, and my position came to a close in December after a full year of hard work. (I also discovered that event planning is definitely NOT my forte.)

STUDENT GOVERNING ASSOCIATION: In late October of 2012, I began working for a team campaigning for Student Body President and Vice President. Campaign season is in full force during January and February, and closes in March. Working as a campaign manager was by far the most challenging, time-consuming leadership position I had ever taken on, but after winning the election and watching two close friends and incredible mentors take office, it quickly solidified my love for student government at K-State and paid off 110%.

In early spring, our organization hosts the K-State Proud campaign, which helps raise money for fellow K-State students who are struggling financially to keep them on campus. I then got to take on the position of Vice President of Membership, which means I basically get to plan fun socials and retreats for our group, along with new member recruitment, selections, and training. In late summer, we took a trip to New Orleans for a national conference where we got to present our organization’s practices and learn from dozens of other similar programs from universities across the nation.

EMPLOYMENT: I spent the year working for New Student Services in Anderson Hall and returned for my 2nd summer serving as a Wildcat Warm-up Counselor for Orientation and Enrollment. Over the course of the year, I was able to give several campus tours, sit on student panels, and help coordinate visits for all of the talented students interested in K-State. Nothing beats the challenge of recruiting the top students to K-State, and hopefully this post has helped express why I’m so passionate about it.

The point of this recap wasn’t to celebrate or show off the feats of my year; rather, to show you how many unbelievable opportunities there are to take advantage of at this university every single day. While I can easily express the things I did over the past year, I cannot even begin to express the personal development I’ve achieved through fully immersing myself in undergraduate life. At the end of the day (or year, I suppose), I owe every ounce of my growth and success to the relationships with the lifelong mentors, leaders, and friends that make this place the unique and special place I will forever call home—from 2013, to 2014, and forever and ever until I’m old and graduated and gray and blogs aren’t even cool anymore.  ‘Cats, man.

xoxo, ellen

Getting your “phil”

Advice I often find myself giving to prospective students usually runs along the lines of encouraging further exploration and cultivation of passions you already possess. Simply because you are re-planting yourself in a different environment does not mean you should uproot all of the things you’ve grown to love. After first being introduced to the concept of philanthropy through a high school Student Council fundraiser, I developed a deep connection and knew it was going to be an important part of my life for years to come. As soon as I left the comfort of my home community and stepped foot on campus, I began to discover the plethora of opportunities to get involved with philanthropic organizations at K-State.

For those who may not be entirely familiar with philanthropy, I think it can be simply defined as the act of using your unique strengths and talents to help others. Sounds like fun, huh? Here’s some awesome, on-campus outlets for your philanthropic passion:

    breakdown: Student Foundation members serve as ambassadors of philanthropy for the entire University. They work closely with donors who give to K-State, and work to promote a general attitude of philanthropy about our campus. Fun fact: Student Foundation also hosts K-State Proud, a student-ran philanthropic campaign that has raised over $650,000 to help keep fellow Wildcats who are struggling financially on campus. NEAT-O, RIGHT?
    website: http://www.found.ksu.edu/student-foundation/
    website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-State-Proud/110300745700043 
    (Hey, that girl looks kinda familiar! This was a short spot that was actually played at a home football game to a crowd of 50,000. My very short and sweet 15 minutes of fame, guys.)
    breakdown: Relay For Life, a national philanthropy dedicated to raising funds for the American Cancer Society, is an incredible event that you may have even participated in before in your hometown. Our RFL crew at K-State have a blast planning different events throughout the year, and throw one heck of a party on the night of the actual Relay which is at our Memorial Stadium.
    website: https://www.facebook.com/RFLofKSU
    breakdown: Each and every fraternity and sorority at K-State holds philanthropy events for various causes. As a member of the Greek community, I have been able to become the philanthropy chair of my chapter and get to plan events for the entire Greek, K-State, and Manhattan communities to take part in. Whether you aspire to become the philanthropy chair or simply wish to volunteer, Greek life offers tons of incredible opportunities to get in touch with your inner philanthropist.
    website: http://www.k-state.edu/greek/index.html

At the end of the day, it’s always best to fill the cups of others. While you’re at it, why not “phil” yours too by doing a little philanthropy work?

xoxo, ellen

Nailing the interview

While your campus tour guide might have told you about all of the great job opportunities available to K-State students or the 475+ organizations we offer to get involved in, they might not have mentioned that some of these things require an interview process to get in. For those of you (much like myself) whose heartbeat began racing and muscles tensed at the mere mention of the word “interview”, I’ve compiled a list of tips that have been shared with me over the past three years of my college career to help subside the panic and do your best in these challenging events.

After high school, several interviews will be built around “behavioral-based” questions. If you’re anything like me, I was clueless as to what that event meant, let alone how to go about answering them. With a little help from our friend Google, you can search the most commonly asked questions—and then think about how you would answer them. While you won’t know exactly what your interviewer will ask, you can at least anticipate possible questions and avoid being completely bewildered.

One of the most helpful things I did for myself in regards to prepping for behavioral-based questions was essentially mapping out major leadership or life experiences that have had a significant impact on who I am/how I lead. Brainstorm times you did really well on a group project or achieved a tough goal. After that, think of times you really blew it. And no—I’m not kidding! We experience the greatest lessons by failing big-time, and then bouncing back and learning from it. Potential employers and organizations want to know that yes, you are capable of achieving, but also that you are able to accept your mistakes and show resilience.

This one might be second-nature, but always be prepared to speak to why you are best fit for the position you’re interviewing for. Hint: don’t simply say “because I want it!” Think about your strengths and skill set and relate those things to the position description. Use specific examples as to how your strengths would play out well in said position.

While you can run yourself ragged trying to prepare for questions and anticipate every situation you might face, that’s only half the battle. I’ve felt incredibly prepared for an interview, but then blew it because I got no sleep the night before or was flustered when I entered the room. Get good rest the night before. Eat your favorite breakfast. Wear your snazziest blazer. Show up early and give yourself time to focus, whether that means a little pre-interview meditation, a mini self pep-talk, or simply time to focus your energy. It’ll pay off.

Last but not least—let your personality shine through everything you do. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! An employer or organization would much rather have someone who can be honest and genuine over a robot who answers every question with precise execution.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and that the more interviews you go through, the more comfortable they get. Ask for advice from others who have gone through similar things. Always be learning. Always be improving.

xoxo, ellen

Class of ’17: Full speed ahead

In high school, it’s commonly said that a freshman should move swiftly, only speak when spoken to, and be seen and NOT heard. In college, however, the rules seem to shift completely—and the incoming class of K-Staters aren’t waiting around for someone to fill them in.

As the way we communicate continues to progress rapidly through the help of social media, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are all key players in the way we get our message out. Now more than ever, these tools are used to build bridges and establish networks from houses, states, and even countries away. On Twitter in particular, the incoming class of freshmen have used the platform to make themselves heard, culture new friendships, and gush about all things EMAW (which you know I can’t resist). I’ve been blown away by the social media presence of these students, and they aren’t even on Manhattan soil yet!

Here’s a few tweets:
(and my personal favorite:)

Want more?! Go check out @KSUclassof17! If that doesn’t stir up a little excitement or Wildcat pride, I don’t know what will. Oh, and:

Hey class of ’17: keep it up.

xoxo, ellen


Warming up (in more ways than one).

Good evening, friends!

After a year-long break, I’m SO excited to be back doing two of my absolute favorite things: actively writing my K-State story, and sharing it with all of you. Sophomore year is officially in the books and delivered tons of new experiences, a bit of fresh perspective, and quite possibly a little wisdom as well.

Red White and Bluemont, 1st Weekend

After the incredible time I had last summer, I decided to return as a Wildcat Warm-up counselor for K-State Orientation and Enrollment. As a counselor, I had the privilege of connecting with three weekends full of bright incoming freshmen and helping warm them up to their new home. After reflecting on the advice I found myself repeatedly offering, I’ve summed them up into three items. They are:

  1. REACH OUT – There are endless “firsts” during freshman year that can sometimes be challenging. The greatest thing about this? You don’t have to go it alone! Rejoice in not knowing what the heck you’re doing—you are never alone, and there is always someone waiting around the corner with open arms to help you. Those who aren’t afraid to ask for help are the first to succeed.
  2. GEEK OUT –  College is about discovering (or further capitalizing on) the things you love. For me, it was finally finding a field of study that allows me to use my love for communication and connecting with others in a strategic, direct way—and while others might think that sounds boring, I’m a big, shameless nerd about it. So whether it’s in a Chemistry lab, in a Student Senate meeting, or during that last touchdown of your flag football game, find a way to “geek out”—and don’t be sorry about it.
  3. GET OUT – of your routine, that is. My favorite memories from freshman year were not spent in my room or even class—they were spontaneous adventures of exploring MHK, taking weekend trips out of town, or staying up all night for heart-to-hearts with new friends. Make time to work—but don’t forget to make time to play!

In close, it’s important I note that these are merely discoveries from my own trials and errors. Your unique experiences and interactions will help you build your own tips and tricks for success—and they may be completely different than mine!
So now, go out and make mistakes. Lots of ’em.

xoxo, ellen


Lucky Number 4! #EMAW

As many of you hopefully know, the ‘Cats pulled off a HUGE win over the Texas A&M Aggies last night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. What many of you might not know is how incredible it was to be in the iCat Student Section during the entire thing.

My love for K-State Football started at a young age. When I attended games with my family, I always watched the student section in awe and dreamed of someday getting to sit in those coveted seats—the band, the field, and the intensity of the game just yards away. Last night was the epitome of that euphoric feeling coming to life. We showed up about an hour before the game started and scored 6th row seats (which was pretty lucky). After not one, not two, but FOUR overtimes, the ‘Cats pulled off the win. It was simply incredible. Although I was exhausted after 5 hours of screaming and my hands were a little sore from giving so many high fives…that’s something you can’t really complain about.

If you are a potential student–I cannot stress enough about how fun attending games and sitting in the student section is. Kansas State has the best seating for students across the Big 12 (and arguably the nation). Even if you don’t know the difference between a touchdown and a home run…I promise you will have the time of your life.

Click here to watch the WINNING TD in 4OT! Even if you were there…re-watching it still brings some intense urges to Wabash.

with peace, love, and EMAW forever.
xoxo, ellen