Kansas State University


The Loop

Category: Student Programs

Reflecting on our student programs

There is a seasonality to higher education and the American education system that is reliable and consistent. We have a fall and a spring semester, with a month-long break between, and a week-long break during each term. The summer brings its own set of programming and enrollment, and we have a moment to breathe before starting again in August.  

This year, the reliable pattern has been interrupted for students and faculty alike. While there is much planning, pondering and considering in anticipation for what the fall will bring, it’s also necessary to take a beat and recognize the ways the Staley School has engaged through our co-curricular programs, focused on leadership development and servicewhat happened this past spring and changes to our typical summer 

During the 2020 spring semester, 17 first-year students traveled to Puebla, Mexico, as part of the Global Citizenship CAT Community. Our partners at Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) were fabulous – organizing meaningful tours of downtown Puebla, a neighboring town of Cholula with a powerful history of diverse groups working together and the impact of Spanish colonizers, and a visit to La Preciosita to cook with and learn from women whose families have been impacted by immigration to the U.S., and capped off with a mole cooking class. The study tour was full of powerful learning moments for students and faculty leaders alike. Leadership Studies is glad to partner with Education Abroad on this program 

Spring break was a busy time as we also had Alternative Breaks teams in Dallas, Texas; Springfield, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; and Garden City, Kansas. The teams worked alongside nonprofit organizations, schools, K-State alumni and community members to better understand issues of public education, environmental sustainability, food systems, vulnerable populations and public health. We are grateful to have such wonderful partners to work with, especially as changes were made to several breaks when COVID-19 concerns rapidly shifted in our country.  

Additionally, our Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows, Academic Mentors, and Cargill Fellows wrapped up a great year. While not in the same way as being together in person, we were able to virtually celebrate a year of mentoring youth in Manhattan, developing capacity for leadership, and creating professional connections. We wish our graduates of these programs all the best as the move into our world, making it a better place. As we bid adieu to our outgoing classes, we welcomed new ones as well – the new cohorts of Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows and Cargill Fellows were selected last spring. We’re looking forward to learning with these groups in the 2020-2021 year.  

This time of year would usually see student coordinators making trips to the Kansas City airport to pick up 25 Mandela Washington Fellows who arrive from Sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the current global health situation, and with the safety and well-being of Fellows and partners as the highest priority, the U.S. Department of State has postponed the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship until summer 2021. Applicants for the 2020 Fellowship who were selected as finalists and alternates have been notified that they are eligible to defer their participation until summer 2021. 

And, with international travel not possible right now, our International Service Teams are unfortunately not traveling to our host partners this summer. The students who were intending to participate this summer finished the preparatory course exceptionally well this spring. We value our partners in Kenya, South Africa, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and The Gambia, and are hopeful for continued and new ways of collaborating in 2021. 

While the ‘standard’ reliability of the academic season looks different, we look forward to having students back on campus and having meaningful conversations of creating change. Our world needs knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders now more than ever. 


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. Kansas State University is a sub-grantee of IREX and has implemented U.S.-based Leadership Institutes as a part of the Fellowship. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit the Fellowship’s website at www.mandelawashingtonfellowship.org. 


Recognizing students for leadership and service

On Sunday, May 3, students, faculty, staff, friends and family from the Staley School of Leadership Studies and across Kansas State University gathered to recognize the success and honor the achievements of several K-State students at the Celebrating Service and Leadership awards program.

For the first time since the inception of this awards program, the event took place digitally over Zoom and Facebook Live. While guests could not gather physically, the importance and value of coming together was not lost in this virtual event.

“These awards, these students who receive them, are so deserving of recognition, however we are able to come together to celebrate,” said Mary Hale Tolar, director of the Staley School.

“The recipients of these awards have demonstrated time and again what it means to demonstrate leadership in service to their communities. In their student organizations, in the classroom, through service-learning and more, they go above and beyond.”

Zoom live screen shot


The following students were recognized:

The Candi Hironaka Outstanding LEAD 212 Class Leader award

  • Lorena Juanez, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Matt Plummer, Wamego, Kansas
  • Hannah Valentine, Lake Winnebago, Missouri
  • Emily Wollard, Overland Park, Kansas

The Outstanding Civic Engagement award

  • Francisco Cardoza, Kansas City, Kansas

The Nonprofit Leadership Outstanding Graduating Senior award

  • Katie Buhler, Pratt, Kansas

The Pat. J. Bosco Leadership Studies Outstanding Graduating Senior award

  • Abby Molzer, Lenexa, Kansas
  • Hannah Sutherland, Lenexa, Kansas
  • Chelsea Turner, Kansas City, Kansas

Sincere thanks go to these students and their nominators. They strive to carry the mission of the Staley School: Developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world.

Learn more about the awards or to view a list of past recipients here.

You can view the entire event below or on Facebook.

Nominate Staley School faculty, staff for Rost Award

K-State students are invited to nominate a member of the Staley School faculty or staff for the Staley School’s 2020 Rost award.

The nomination for is just four short questions. Any nomination submitted will be presented to the faculty/staff nominated, so this is also a great opportunity to pass on a positive message of support regardless of the awarded recipient. Nominations are due by 5 p.m. April 29.

Established by the Staley School of Leadership Studies Ambassadors, the Rost award recognizes faculty/staff who exemplify the mission statement of the Staley School, which is to develop knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world.

The winner of this award should not only demonstrate these characteristics in their own lives, but should also inspire others to become better leaders.

The Staley School Ambassadors will form a committee, review nominations and carefully select the 2020 recipient. The recipient will be notified in early May.

View a list of past recipients.

K-State senior reflects on an unusual last semester

Guest writer Anna Spexarth is a senior at Kansas State University, planning to graduate in May 2020. She is majoring in public relations with minors in leadership studies and art. She is also a student public relations coordinator for the Staley School of Leadership Studies, specializing in social media.


If you had told me three and a half years ago I would be taking all of my classes online, that I wouldn’t be able to give proper goodbyes to my classmates and professors, and wouldn’t be walking across the stage, attempting not to fall, after I wrapped up my final classes as a K-State student, I would have told you that was crazy.

Anna with Willie Wildcat
Anna Spexarth, freshman year at K-State

But here we are.

Two months, or even a little over a month ago, I couldn’t picture anything else happening but the commencement and typical graduation celebrations that I had thought I was going to experience since my childhood. As a Type-A person I pushed myself in my school, wanting to receive honors when I graduated and wanting to hear that said after my name on the day of commencement.

But now we, the Kansas State University class

of 2020, and much of the rest of the collegiate world are going through circumstances that no other class has navigated before, but guess what, we are primed for this.

While this quite honestly sucks, and no one wants their college experience to end like this, we are a generation that was born adaptable.

Many of us grew up as technology was becoming accessible to most families, even if it was not to the degree that it was for people born post-2000s. We grew up resourceful, used to Googling solutions, clicking buttons until something worked, and solving problems in this way from the time we could solve problems at all.

Anna as a baby with grandparents
Young Anna, with her grandparents

We got this. While this whole situation does create more uncertainty in a time when we are first emerging into the Real Adult World and trying to find jobs, we have so many resources to help us and we are all in this together.

If you are familiar with Clifton Strengths, my top two strengths are positivity and adaptability, which definitely influences the lens at which I see this situation. That being said, here are my top four tips for all of us graduating this semester, in case you need a new perspective on it all.

Set goals

Anna on a hikeEverything can feel so overwhelming right now with everything from future careers to health, it is hard to know what is going to happen.

My advice is to set some goals for what you want to work on or accomplish over the next month, or even just the next week. It can be anything from finding a job or reading more, to spring cleaning. Then break down the baby steps to work toward achieving that goal and spread it out over days.

For me one of my goals is finding a job after graduation, so each day I review LinkedIn job alerts and Google searches, as well as sending my resume to others to look over and working on professional certifications that I may not have had time to do before.

Breaking it down like this and making lists of everything you need to do can help you feel like you are accomplishing something and still being proactive during a situation that is out of your control.

Take care of yourself

Anna's cat, snow, playing checkers
Anna’s cat, Snow, makes a great checkers partner

It is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by everything going on in the world and in our lives, but it is so important to take care of yourself. As cliche as it may seem, you really cannot pour from an empty cup.

Make sure to do a few things a day that take your mind off of what may be stressing you out or making you feel overwhelmed. That can be anything from baking, reading, practicing mindfulness or moving your body.

I find that when I am on social media more than two hours a day I can get very anxious about everything going on. I set time limits for social media on my phone and it mutes notifications for those apps after that time limit. Board games are something you can do with your social distancing pals, and you can do them over Zoom. Even my cat likes to play!

Reach out 

Depending on who you are social distancing with, it can get lonely, or maybe you just miss getting to vent to your friends in between classes! Make time to Zoom or FaceTime with the people that you miss. For me, it is refreshing to talk with my friends about what is going on, especially since we are all in the same boat together and reassuring to know that we are all here for each other. K-State’s Counseling Services also offers assistance online.

Anna with friends
Anna with friends at the beach

Remember that we are all here for each other

Lastly, it is so important to remember that we are all here for each other. Like the song from High School Musical told us, “we’re all in this together.” We will get through this together. For us graduates, it may be weird to log out of Canvas for the last time instead of walking out of our last class with our friends, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t accomplish something great.

We should still feel just as accomplished as if we had graduated like those in the years before us. When this is all done, and we get to spend time in person with others again, we will look back on this and see that even though we faced challenges and a situation that hadn’t happened ever before, we did make it through.

Anna with friends at a K-State event
Anna with friends at a K-State event

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing. Our professors and friends are here for us, it is just virtually now.

We are such an adaptable generation and this is just one more thing we will do in a unique way that no one has ever done before. We got this. Go ‘Cats!

Sixth class of Snyder Fellows announced

The Staley School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University is excited to announce the sixth class of the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows Program.

The Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows program is named for, and based on, coach Bill Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success. Coach Bill Snyder is known for his commitment to leadership development, the program continues to build on his example. Snyder Fellows will engage in a variety of leadership development workshops, activities and events during the 2020-21 academic year, kicking off with an intensive retreat in the fall. Fellows will engage with youth in the Manhattan community, and develop their own capacity to lead with a leadership coach of their own.

The following Kansas State University students, all moving into their final year at K-State, have been selected for the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows program:

Rebekah Cain, studying agricultural education, from Admire; Victoria Eastman, studying biological systems engineering, and Brynnan Norris, studying hospitality management, both from Andover; Gracyn Higley, studying animal science production-management, from Atwood; Emme Mount, studying physical sciences, from Clearwater; Enrique Salas, studying civil engineering, from Council Grove; Rileigh Mahoney, studying communication sciences and disorders, from Derby; Carmen Del Real, studying life science and Spanish, and Carlos Ruiz, studying finance, both from Dodge City; Maria Kimzey, studying agricultural economics, from Fredonia.

From Greater Kansas City: Rhett Pierce, studying mechanical engineering, from De Soto; Jazmine Johnson, studying strategic communications, and Ashly Rojas, studying marketing, both from Kansas City, Kansas; Kayley Brethour, studying entrepreneurship, Charles Corredor, studying finance, Brian Mota, studying marketing, and Mitchell Taylor, studying economics and international studies, all from Lenexa; Samantha Bond, studying human development and family sciences, from Olathe; Leah Willhite, studying kinesiology, pre-physician assistant, from Overland Park; Abigail Huber, studying animal sciences and industry, pre-vet option, and Sarah McLaughlin, studying elementary education, both from Shawnee.

Taylor Mosher, studying finance, from Lawrence; Mackensie Haverkamp, studying public relations, from Silver Lake; Phil Haynos, studying medial biochemistry, pre-med, from St. Marys; Kelsey Robinett, studying architectural engineering from Topeka; Cale Hupe, studying marketing, from Wamego.

From out of state: Brooke Errington, studying general human ecology, from Cottonwood, Minnesota; Richard Garrett, Anthony Hall, studying management information systems, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Richard Garrett, studying American ethics, from St. Louis, Missouri.

For more information on the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows or to learn about how you can get involved or support the program, contact Kaitlin Long at kaitlinl@ksu.edu.

Students compete in crisis simulation, apply leadership skills

Staley School team

In March, Staley School of Leadership Studies students Kyanna Volkman, Abigail Rebollar, Savannah Langley, Gracie Coon and Ivy Bogle, along with Professor Andrew Wefald, attended the tenth annual Washburn Leadership Challenge Event.

The Leadership Challenge Event (LCE) is an annual event hosted by the Washburn University Leadership Institute in Topeka, Kansas. It simulates the real-world process of leadership through a two-day event that consists of live, interactive leadership simulations.

Upon arrival they received leadership training focused on an adaptive leadership concept. They were also provided resources to further their knowledge in the areas of mental health and working across factions.

The second day, students participated in leadership challenge simulations. This    year’s theme was mental health and community responses to mental health crises. The setting of their challenge was within a local prison of a fictional town.

Students were each assigned a role in the simulation. One student was a city councilperson, one was the warden of the local prison, one was the police chief, etc. Throughout the day of the simulation the students were given tasks, some individual and some team related. As a team and as a town, they had to make decisions, allocate resources and work together to exercise leadership.Staley School team competing

“Our students gave an excellent final presentation using concepts they have learned at the event and in our program,” said Professor Wefald. “Five amazing students came together and learned about themselves, each other and exercising leadership!”

team collaboration awardThe Staley School team proudly brought home the team collaboration award for their work together in this challenge.

We are consistently impressed by the hard work of our students and faculty, the teams we have sent to the LCE over the past years and how they have applied their leadership knowledge from their coursework to this event. Way to go!


Nominate students, community organizations and individuals for Staley School awards

The Staley School of Leadership Studies is seeking nominees for Celebrating Services and Leadership awards. The awards honor Kansas State University students, community partners and outstanding individuals who have volunteered their time and leadership to enhance, improve and impact the greater good of the campus and community.

In recognition of the “power of volunteers to spark change and improve the world through community,” the Celebrating Service and Leadership Community Service awards are modeled after the George H.W. Bush’s Daily Point of Light Award. These awards embrace the challenge of tackling a community need through volunteer service.

The Staley School values and practices civic engagement and service-learning opportunities through valuable coursework and student programs as part of our mission to develop knowledgeable, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world. Volunteering and community service often lead to increased civic involvement and leadership for college students, youth and community members.

Nominate an individual or a group by Friday, April 10. Honorees will be notified by Monday, April 13. A virtual celebration will take place – details to be announced.

The following awards are open for nomination:

Outstanding K-State Student Volunteer
Eligibility includes K-State students who have participated in HandsOn Kansas State service or other civic engagement activities during the 2019-2020 academic year. Nominees have demonstrated exemplary leadership in service and addressed a need in the community. They should display dedication, responsibility, commitment and sensitivity to diversity while meeting the needs of the community.

Outstanding K-State Student Organization
Any organization that is recognized through K-State’s Center for Student Involvement or a K-State department/college and has been active with HandsOn Kansas State during the 2019-2020 academic year is eligible. The nominated organization promotes an ethic of service on and off campus through ongoing service or an exemplary one-time project. Nominated organizations are committed to involving others in service and activism and have effectively mobilized a large and diverse population on campus to address an issue of importance in the community.

Outstanding Service Champion
Eligible individuals are from the greater Manhattan area and have demonstrated outstanding efforts in volunteerism and service to meet a community need. Nominees have displayed excellence in community service, civic engagement, corporate responsibility and/or social change. They also have engaged in creative utilization of people, resources and opportunities while exercising leadership and advocating for positive change in their community. They are able to demonstrate their impact through measurable outcomes.

Outstanding Community Service Partner
Eligible groups from the greater Manhattan area have partnered with HandsOn Kansas State in order to meet a community need. Nominated groups promote an ethic of service in the community through ongoing efforts or through an exemplary one-time project. These groups are committed to involving others in service and activism and have effectively mobilized a large and diverse population to address an issue of importance in the community.

Submit a nomination online for any of the above awards. Past recipients of the awards can be found on our website. Questions can be directed to handson@k-state.edu.

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