Fourteen sophomore students at Wichita North High School made valuable KU connections Sept. 20, when they were introduced to alumni who will serve as their mentors for next three years.
The group is part of the University’s new initiative, a product of the Office of Admission’s existing Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) program, to help underrepresented and minority students make a smooth transition from high school to college. The program was launched this spring in Wichita.
Participating students and their parents attended the induction ceremony, which was held at KU’s School of Medicine in Wichita and included appearances by Keon Stowers, c’15, a former KU football player who works for the Office of Admissions; Nate Thomas, KU’s vice provost for diversity and equity; and Baby Jay, who was on hand to take pictures with the students and their mentors.
Kim Madsen Beeler, c’93, j’93, g’99, who coordinates the HAWK program and has worked with alumni for years recruiting prospective students to KU, oversees the new Mentor Leadership Development program. She teamed up with Danielle Hoover, c’07, the Alumni Association’s assistant director of Wichita programs, to enlist area Jayhawks as mentors.
“These alumni are so passionate about KU, and they have told us for years they want to help,” Beeler says. “They want to make a difference and recruit great students.”
Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and complete an application and essay to be considered for the program. Those who are accepted are assigned mentors, who will coordinate opportunities for the students to shadow working professionals in various fields, participate in volunteer activities in the community and develop skills to be successful in the workforce, including learning how to fill out job applications, dress appropriately for interviews and create a résumé. In addition, the students will visit KU and participate in sports events, campus tours and discussion panels with current University students.
Hoover presented the opportunity to alumni on the Wichita Network board and was overwhelmed by their enthusiastic response. Five board members, Jim Spencer, c’82; Andy Ek, b’05, g’11; Monique Garcia Pope, c’96; Anna Ritchie, c’05, j’05, and Bob Nugent, c’77, l’80, signed up to be mentors, and other board members offered to host events for the students or help with their community service projects.
“One of the biggest initiatives on our board is to give back to the community,” says Hoover. “That’s a big passion for all of our board members. And it’s right in line with this initiative.”
Beeler hopes to expand the program at Wichita North High School next year and eventually include other schools in the area.
“This year we have 14 mentees, next year we’ll have another class, and we’ll just keep building,” she says. “The goal is to help students transition from high school to college and, hopefully, to KU. But also we want to engage our alumni, because they’re so important in recruitment. If we can get the alumni engaged and to help with recruiting, it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Wichita Jayhawks spent time yesterday not only building relationships with each other, but building a house for Habitat for Humanity.
“It was a fun, productive day with a great KU team,” said Margaret Lafferty, a member of the Presidents Club, adding “I had a good work out with that hammer!”
Jayhawks who volunteered their time and talents include Wichita Network board members Chris Howell, Byron Watkins, Anna Ritchie, and Jim Spencer; Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs for the KU Alumni Association; and Mike Parmley of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
What happens when you combine 18 cases of red, white, blue, and yellow gift bows, a couple of glue guns and a fabulous group of volunteers? You get a giant display of Jayhawk spirit. Quite literally!
In early August, the decorations committee for the Jayhawk Roundup, led by decorations chair Chris Jeter, gathered at Murfin Stables to work on an oversized “bow mural.” The project will grace the corner of the arena and provide a photo background for the annual event, held on October 2, 2015, in Wichita. This year’s theme is “Happy Birthday KU,” celebrating the 150th birthday of the University of Kansas.
Members of the committee helping that day were Chris and Lori Jeter, Jim Burgess, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett, Bob and Kay Blinn, Camille Nyberg, Margaret Lafferty, Danielle Hoover, and Susan Younger.
The mural was fairly easy to create, so we wanted to share it with you so you can make your own. This technique would be perfect for a high school spirit wall, a grade school art project, or for anywhere you want to make a really big visual impact.
To start off, you will need to create your image on a grid, and if you are familiar with cross stitch embroidery, the idea is basically the same. For the Jayhawk head, the graphic was placed underneath a grid and then filled in with colored dots to bring up the pattern. The more detailed the image you wish to create, the larger the mural should be. (Each dot coordinates with the color of the bow, and gray is used here to represent white). Our mural ended up measuring approximately 6 1/2 feet tall by 11 feet wide. With a grid like this, it’s easy to determine the bow position, and the number of bows needed. The black lines running every six columns represents each mural panel, as explained in Step 2.
For our base paper, we used a brown kraft paper, and the color really helped our white bows pop. Our kraft roll is 24″ wide, so we divided the grid into the appropriate number of columns. (See black lines on the grid, indicating each column). Measure six 3-1/2 inch squares starting from the left edge, and leave the remaining 3″ to the right, so you can glue the panels together to make the complete mural. If your paper is thin, reinforce the back with packing tape. The kraft paper is surprisingly strong, but reinforcing helps strengthen the paper.
We left room for a sleeve at both the top and the bottom, and will thread a PVC pole through the sleeves to stiffen the mural and make it easier to hang. (We also left 12 inches at the top and bottom as blank space above and below the bows).
Draw out the entire grid on your paper, and then label it so you can follow the grid, such as “row 1, column 1,” “row 1, column 2,” and so on. To cut down on confusion and make the process easy for a group, use paint markers to indicate the color in each square.
Package bows work really well for this project. They’re fun and the texture adds to the effect, and in this case, the bows fit our birthday theme. We used 4″ confetti bows from Papermart, which have a variety of strong colors and great case prices.
Use a glue gun with a hot glue setting. It’s important to use hot glue, because it helps grip the fibers of the paper better. (Avoid using cold glue guns). Draw an “X” of glue in the square, and affix your bow. You don’t need to remove the paper covering the sticky pad on the back of the bow. In fact, that sticker is too weak to use, so just glue right over it. You want to make sure that you draw a large enough “X” so that the glue grips parts of the bow, and not just in the center over the sticker. Lightly smash the bow down as you glue it to make sure it grips the hot glue well. (Don’t worry, the bow will pop right back up).
Once all your panels are finished, lay them flat together to make sure your design looks right. The left side of each panel should line up with the blank space on the right side of your panel. Glue the panels together with tacky glue. When the glue is dry, reinforce the panels on the back with packing tape. If you are going to store the mural for a bit, don’t glue the panels together until you are ready to hang it, and keep the panels flat while storing them. This will help prevent warping, and cover them with plastic tarps to keep the moisture out.
And that’s all there is to it! If you would like to make your own mural of the Jayhawk, feel free to borrow our grid diagram. We’d love to see examples of your own creations, so be sure to post them on the Association’s Facebook page.
A favorite pastime for KU Alumni Association staff members is the annual Kansas Wheat Festival held in Wellington. We’ve participated in the cow chip tossing contest for a decade thanks to the generous support of John T., b’58, and Linda Stewart, ’60, and alumni hosts David Carr, c’73, and Colette Kocour, c’73.
Two teams tossed patties this year, and the Rock Chalk Ringers, led by Emily Ellison, Danielle Hoover and Colette Kocour, finished in second place. The other team, the Rock Chalk Chuckers, headed up by Tyler Rockers, finished dead last.
According to Heath Peterson, vice president for alumni programs, Tyler convinced the team to go for the toilet rather than the points on the grid, which was a bad idea. “Tyler whiffed out of the gate, which set the tone for everyone else. If they awarded points for both style and bad strategy, we would have won hands down,” Heath said. David Carr and Don Short were also on the team.
After the contest, the teams celebrated their success (and failure) over dinner with several local Presidents Club members.
The group was back in action on Friday night, pulling the Rock Chalk trailer down Washington Street in the Wheat Festival Parade. Baby Jay worked the crowd like a star, and the staff and volunteers tossed T-shirts to the crowd. Many thanks to the Stewarts for once again purchasing the T-shirts.
“This was my first Wheat Festival, and I had a great time!” said Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs. “Everyone was friendly and excited that we were there with KU gear during the parade.”
We’ve developed many KU friendships over the years in Wellington, which is a top notch small Kansas town. Each year, the Kansas Wheat Festival is a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in the community for two days and spread Jayhawk spirit.
Stormy weather didn’t stop Wichita Network Jayhawks from proudly representing KU in a college and career night for AVID students, held earlier this month at Marshall Middle School in Wichita. Danielle Hoover, c’07, assistant director of Wichita programs for the Association, and Wichita Network volunteers Monique Pope, c’96, Geron Bird, c’97, l’01, and Janet Murfin, d’75, were on hand for the event, which helped young people learn about opportunities available to them after high school.
Marshall Middle School, a diversely populated school in the heart of Wichita, is one of more than 50 schools in Kansas that implement the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education, for success in high school, college and beyond.
“The students were very eager and willing to get information,” Hoover says. “They asked a lot of questions about what KU is like and what kind of programs we offer.”
Although tornado sirens in the area temporarily interrupted the event, the turnout was great and the event was a huge success, Hoover says. Most of the students attending were seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school, although a few students from neighboring Wichita North High School also participated.
“These students look at college as a way of changing their lives,” Hoover says. “At some college fairs you hear students say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to college. That’s just what you do.’ It’s a standard. But with these students, they might be the first person in their family to go to school.”
Although the Wichita Jayhawks were earnest in their message to students about attending KU, the event wasn’t without its share of fun and games. When Hoover and the other school representatives stepped away from their tables to introduce themselves to parents and students, the Wichita Network volunteers jumped at the chance to have some fun with the Kansas State University representative.
“When we came back in, Janet, Geron and Monique had decorated his table with Jayhawks,” Hoover says. “He was a good sport about it, though.”