Kansas State University


Student Stories

Tag: #family

What Makes K-State Great: Dr. Emily Lehning


Associate Vice President for Student Life and

Director of New Student Services

From Olivet, Kansas

Strengths: Maximizer, Arranger, Individualization, Learner, and Achiever

This phenomenal woman is someone that you need to know.

Continue reading “What Makes K-State Great: Dr. Emily Lehning”

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

Love Your Melon


Meet Mackenzie, a junior majoring in Marketing and minoring in Leadership Studies at Kansas State University. Combing two of her passions, helping cancer patients and supporting the K-State family, she has helped introduce “Love Your Melon” to our campus. Not only does Mack have an incredible story to share, she represents that despite tragic events; hope, love and hard work will prevail. I’m proud of Mack for sharing her story and blessed to call her one of my best friends. -Cajsa

What is something that you are really passionate about? Maybe in your college career you are unsure of what that looks like for you at this point. As a junior, I am just discovering what that is. Before I graduate Kansas State University, I set a goal that I wanted to make a lasting impression and leave something behind at K-State that made it better than when I started here. Personally I am passionate about helping cancer patients, their families and those left behind because of cancer. I personally have been impacted and experienced loss because of cancer. My mom lost her battle to cancer in 2008 and ever since her diagnosis in 1997 I have looked for ways to continue working with people affected by cancer. One day while on Facebook I stumbled across an organization called Love Your Melon a nonprofit started by college students that sells hats, t-shirts and other gear. This grabbed my attention because it was started by students, which was very relatable to me. They have a buy one; give one philosophy so every hat they sell they donate one to a child going through chemotherapy and other cancer treatment. I was so energized by the whole mission of the organization and having a passion for non-profits this stood out to me. The more I looked into it I found that they had campus ambassador crews. Noticing that K-State didn’t have a crew I emailed the site looking to start a team. Luckily I was able to connect with some other women from K-State looking to get involved in the organization. We started in January of this year and are quickly approaching our goal of selling 100 hats at 95 right now! We are planning our first donation event to be able to bring the kids hats at Children’s Mercy in Overland Park. Once we reach 300, Love Your Melon will make a special KSU beanie. The reason I am so passionate about bringing this to K-State is because I have already seen amazing support from the community and I believe in K-State family. For me, losing my mom and moving away from home to come to college was a big challenge and it wouldn’t have gone as well without the wonderful people that make up the K-State family. KSU truly is my home away from home and I want to do what I can to make it better than when I started here. We all sincerely appreciate the support you have already shown.

If you are looking to get involved, follow us on social media at @KSULYMCREW on Instagram, @KSULYM_Crew on Twitter, and Kansas State University Love Your Melon Campus Crew on Facebook.

If you are interested in making a purchase, check out www.loveyourmelon.com. They will be releasing a new summer line soon!

Fighting Ever Fighting,


An Ever-Growing Family

I have to share a story about my gameday this past weekend.

Now, as any K-State fan knows, and everyone in the Big 12 should know (in my opinion at least), a Wildcat Gameday is incomparable to any other. The atmosphere of passion and family is so loving, welcoming and purpley, that you’ll be a “part of the fam” as soon as you step foot on the grounds.

This Sunday, a group of friends and I were tailgating out by their camper/RV; enjoying BBQ pork, BBQ chips (anything BBQ really..) and each other’s company. Around the middle of the first quarter we decided to start heading toward the stadium to cheer on our cats.

After passing a few campers we stumbled across an oasis of game-watching; a family had set up a big screen TV, fire pit, and folding chairs in a little courtyard they had created between four RVs. After meeting grandparents Kathy and Greg and being introduced to the rest of they family they insisted we grab a chair and watch the game with an air of “duhhh sit down.” We agreed, thinking we’d sit down for a while then continue the trek to the stadium….we ended up staying…the whole game, and when we got up to leave we were seen off with goodbyes, waves, and hugs…from the family we had met not yet two hours ago.

I remember a distinct moment of wonder I experienced around the end of the second quarter of the game; that this family, not know anything about us and without hesitating invited us into their family to cheer on our family…tell me where you could feel more at home?



We all know what took place at K-State’s first football game. There was some sort of void, something not there that we were used to having. I remembered the buzz in the air I always felt last year, and don’t get me wrong, I felt a buzz, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing.

This past weekend though— this past weekend, there was something there. I can confidently say there was little coincidence  in the fact that it was Family Day at Kansas State, and we cheered our cats on to a beautiful victory. Alumni and current students know just how important family is to our cat community. Incoming students will get the chance to experience that same feeling, get those same chills, and be a part of the Wildcat Family. I think that family is not only something K-State has, but something it needs. Maybe it took all those ties, all those links, and all those legacies to christen the new west side stadium. Maybe this is what we needed to get the year going. Being down on the field gave me a new perspective to family day.

All across town on Saturday, I saw students walking around with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and the resemblance put a smile on my face. Many went to K-State themselves, maybe others weren’t big K-State fans, but shoot they’d put on a purple shirt for the people they love. At K-State I learned that family is more than blood relations. When you leave home, your family grows. You grow those unbreakable bonds with people who are willing to invest in you, and who you want to become. That being said, seeing students share their new K-State family, with the family they’ve always known and loved was chills worthy. There is just something about seeing two worlds collide that creates a really special atmosphere.

This past weekend I walked into a stadium full of smiles, a stadium full of laughs, and a stadium full of memories. Above all of that though, I walked into a stadium full of family.

Spring Break, New Updates, Enrollment, & More!

It’s been a while since my last post, because I have hardly been able to sit down and catch my breath for the past several weeks!  I’ll start with Spring Break – what an incredible time!  I went skiing in Colorado with three of my Fraternity brothers for most of the week, and it was soooo much fun!  The snow was great, and it was a lot of fun spending all that time with my friends.  I also got to go back to KC for a few days; I really enjoyed seeing my family and Roxie since I hadn’t been home all semester.  It was right back to the grind once I got back from Spring Break, but that was a much needed vacation!  Since then, I’ve had boat-loads of meetings, a couple tests, and a couple papers due.  I started training for being a Student Teacher next semester, got into Business Ambassadors, and became the President of Chimes Junior Honorary!  It’s looking like I’m going to have a really busy Fall Semester — surprise…

I enrolled in my classes for next semester today!  I came in to K-State with a bunch of credits from Johnson County Community College, so I get to enroll sooner than a lot of my classmates.  A tip for everyone during enrollment — enroll as soon as you possibly can!  You can set up your schedule before you enroll to make sure you get the times and teachers that you want, and then all you have to do is click a button when your time comes and you’re golden!  I’m taking a nice variety of classes next semester: Leadership, English, Management, and Accounting.  I’m going to have one class on Mondays, three classes on Tuesdays/Thursdays, and no classes on Wednesdays/Fridays!  I’ll probably end up teaching on Fridays, but this was the first time that I’ve had Fridays off.  I think next semester is going to be another good one here at K-State, and I’m really looking forward to it!  I’ll leave you with some cool pictures from my trip to Colorado.

IMAG0269.jpg Relaxin’ at the top of a cliff!


Incredible view of the mountains!