The University of Kansas TRIO programs help guide students through the process of college. Each graduation season produces incredible stories of student success. This year was no different, with a first-generation college student heading to Harvard and a non-traditional student pursing a law degree.
As KU’s first-ever Rangel Fellow, Constanza Castro has been in the news before. Now, the first-generation college student and daughter of Chilean immigrants has walked down the Hill at Commencement. Constanza has been heavily involved from the moment she stepped on campus, including participation in the Multicultural Student Government and traveling to D.C. for advocacy. She also participated in the KU TRIO McNair Scholars Program and received support from KU TRIO Supportive Educational Services. We reached out to Constanza student to hear more about her KU experiences.
How has the TRIO program helped you?
The TRIO program has provided me academic and personal support to ensure I succeeded in graduating in four years. The most important thing TRIO provided me was a community for me to lean on when I needed support. Having people who understand your background and where you come from because they also come from that place has been beyond important and valuable.
Tell us about your experience in Washington D.C.
My advocacy for TRIO in D.C. was the first time I got to look at how federal budgeting works and how to lobby local congressmen and women to support an issue. It taught me how to find common ground with those different than me and how powerful individual voices can be in determining representatives votes on issues.
What did you learn from your time with Multicultural Student Government?
In Multicultural Student Government, you had to advocate for students from diverse backgrounds. I learned how to serve a constituency that was not only vocal, but often had differing opinions and how to diplomatically work with others to find solutions to common issues.
What advice would you give to first-generation college students?
Grow a large network. The network of people in your life will help guide you and present you with opportunities you would never even consider for yourself. It will be those opportunities which teach you the most and change your life.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation I am off to D.C. to intern in Representative Elijah Cummings’ office, and in the fall I will begin a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
As a non-traditional student, Robert Armstrong took the road less traveled to a KU degree. The Kansas City, Kansas, native walked down the Hill at KU’s 147th Commencement. The TRIO program has been part of Armstong’s education from an early age, from TRIO KU Talent Search in middle school to graduating as a TRIO McNair Scholar. We reached out to the new alumnus to talk about KU and his future.
How has the TRIO program helped you?
Without the KU TRIO program, I would not be where I am today. It has provided me with support and opportunities that I otherwise would not have had access to. Since middle school with KU Talent Search, to joining the McNair Scholars program, KU TRIO programs have given me a network of amazing people who have helped me thrive.
What made you decide to come to KU?
My younger brother was the most influential in my decision to attend KU. He graduated from KU with a degree in social welfare in the spring of 2017. He would often rave about living in the city of Lawrence and the University’s social inclusivity.
What advice would you give to people considering going into college at a later age?
I would advise any prospective nontraditional students to invest in themselves by attending KU. No matter what phase of life you are in, it’s never too late to strive for more.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I will begin as a summer research assistant to the dean of Washburn Law School. I also plan to attend Washburn Law in pursuit of my Juris Doctorate.
As president of the Unity Hip Hop dance crew, Caitlyn creates community among fellow students with a shared passion of hip hop culture. Caitlyn has continued Unity’s strong tradition, founded in 1995, and has led them into new opportunities like training sessions with visiting artist Amirah Sackett.
Humberto Gomez Salinas
Humberto’s extensive work within the international student community at KU helps shape the experience of more than 2,000 Jayhawks who come to Lawrence from all over the world. He serves as an International Undergraduate Student Senator and a resident assistant in Downs Hall. Both roles allow Humberto to create space for students to feel welcome and engaged with the campus community.
When Jordan arrived at KU, he wanted to create a space for students that he couldn’t find. With assistance from faculty, Jordan created The Connect, a space for students to come together, eat and hang out. Student organizations come to The Connect to offer their services, academic resources are also available at the event. Jordan’s creation continues to grow and welcome more Jayhawks each month, just as Jordan set out to do.
The Jayhawk Impact Awards program is sponsored by Hy-Vee of Lawrence.
This weekend marks the anniversary of an event that many Jayhawks would rather forget. The Crossing, a campus icon, was demolished in 2008 to make way for the Oread Hotel.
The building opened in 1923 as Rock Chalk Café. It served as a lunch haven for students and catered to soldiers during World War II. Through the years, it became a go-to spot for students to spend an afternoon relaxing on the porch or playing darts inside. And if a student was hungry, Yello Sub and the Glass Onion were right next door.
Andrea Graham and her college boyfriend, Brandon, were big fans of the bar during their time at KU in the early 2000s. “My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, threw me a surprise 22nd birthday party at the Crossing,” says Andrea, j’02. “We loved that place!”
After a new owner took over in 2006, the bar stayed open until the teardown date arrived. The nine-story hotel complex opened in 2010.
In total, the bar was open for 85 years at 12th Street and Oread Avenue. The bar’s name fluctuated as owners changed in the 70s and 80s. Monikers for the dive bar included New Haven, Catfish Bar ‘N Grill, and Rock Chalk Bar. It became known only as The Crossing in 1988.
The call came Tuesday and was entirely unexpected:
“We need anthem singers who are music students at each of the Final Four schools. Could you do it?”
Before sophomore voice major Darius Sheppard could fully process this most unexpected opportunity to perform the national anthem at Saturday’s Final Four in San Antonio, he quickly replied, “I’m only 20. I need to ask my parents. Can I email you tonight?”
Sheppard—a tenor who performed a spine-tingling rendition of the national anthem with fellow students from Michigan, Villanova and Loyola-Chicago before the start of Saturday evening’s first game in the packed Alamodome—laughs when he recalls the reply he heard from the NCAA official: “OK, but instead of emailing tonight, can you call back in five minutes?”
Sheppard immediately phoned his parents, and, permission secured, on Wednesday booked his flight and on Thursday arrived in San Antonio, thrilled to represent KU on the biggest stage on collegiate athletics.
“It’s been an amazing week, absolutely incredible,” Sheppard said, shaking his head and smiling broadly. As he returned his attention to the first half of the Michigan-Loyola game, playing out just a few yards from his floor-level seat, Sheppard grinned and shouted over the crowd, “Rock Chalk!”
We’ve got a few options for students who are interested in getting involved in some of the best organizations on campus.
Student Alumni Leadership Board (SALB)
SALB members are the official student representatives of the KU Alumni Association. As a board member, students interact with some of the best student leaders, campus officials, and alumni. SALB members serve as campus ambassadors and help organize events.
The Jayhawk Career Network event on Monday, Nov. 27, allowed students access to real-world insight from Portia Kibble Smith, c’78, and Mark Mears, j’84. Putting your best foot forward was a common theme as both guest speakers brought to light what really counts when networking.
Just be yourself
When it comes to networking and interview preparation, the best advice is to simply be yourself. For some, that might be easier said than done. To be the most authentic and best version of yourself, you must first know who you are.
Mark Mears, j’84, stressed the importance of taking personality tests when preparing for interviews. When he spoke recently with KU students, Mears revealed, “your resume tells part of the story.” He believes grounding yourself in who you are helps show future employers the other part.
“None of the personality results are bad,” he said. Instead, these tests show who you really are, not necessarily who you think you are.
Whether it’s a DISC or a Myers-Briggs, these tests highlight your strengths. KU’s University Career Center even offers various assessments. Once you have a sense of who you are, you can understand how you work in a team setting and what you bring to the table.
Are you a leader? Do you work well under pressure? Do you try to keep the peace? Whatever your strength, remain true to whatever makes you “you.”
The KU Alumni Association and the Jayhawk Career Network are here to help students and alumni. Find more information about career resources, networking, and tips from alumni on our website.
Bad weather didn’t stop a good time as Jayhawk Jingles took on an intergalactic feel for the annual Homecoming celebration.
Five sorority-fraternity teams packed the Adams Alumni Center Thursday, October 5th to perform their songs and dances with a Jayhawk theme. Hits such as “Starships,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” were performed with KU-centric lyrics, and costumes and props included green alien shirts and a cardboard spaceship.
Watch our video or photo slideshow below, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use.
KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, takes place Oct. 1-7, 2017. For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, fun facts and historical information, visit the Homecoming website. Share your photos on social using the hashtag #kuhomecoming, and follow the hashtag to see more pictures of the celebration. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.
Wescoe beach was lit up with color on Tuesday, October 3rd for Chalk ‘n’ Rock, a Homecoming tradition where Greek life and other student organizations cover the sidewalk in chalk drawings celebrating this year’s Homecoming theme, Jayhawks of the Galaxy.
The competition had 11 entries, with the team of Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma, and Zeta Beta Tau placing first in the greek life category and the Engineering Student Council finishing first in student organizations.
A panel of judges selected this year’s winners:
1st: Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma, Zeta Beta Tau
2nd: Alpha Delta Pi, Triangle
3rd: Sigma Delta Tau, Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Sigma Psi
1st: Engineering Student Council
2nd: Beta Upsilon Chi
3rd: Sellards Scholarship Hall
Watch our video recap and slideshow of photos from Chalk ‘n’ Rock below, or click here to view the pictures on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use.
-Ryan Camenzind KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, takes place Oct. 1-7, 2017. For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, fun facts and historical information, visit the Homecoming website. Share your photos with us by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #kuhomecoming, and follow the hashtag to see more pictures of the celebration. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.
Ten finalists have been selected for the 27th-annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. The finalists will participate in the Homecoming parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, along Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. Two winners will be announced during halftime of the KU-Texas Tech Homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Memorial Stadium.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. The winners will present at the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the Homecoming Steering Committee.
The award was first given in 1991 to recognize two students for achievement. Names of winners are listed on a plaque on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.
Katie Phalen, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, is executive director of the KU Center for Community Outreach. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and Mortar Board honor society. She serves on the KU Memorial Corporation board of directors and is a member and co-founder of KU Interfaith Alliance.
Kakra Boye-Doe, psychology with minor in sociology and pre-medicine, is a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, where he serves as external vice president. He is co-president of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and a member of Phi Delta Epsilon and Order of Omega. He is a Peer Led Undergraduate Supplements (PLUS) leader and a teaching assistant in biology, and he conducts research in social psychology. He volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.
Puja Shah, microbiology with a minor in Spanish, founded KU Habitat for Humanity and led the organization as president. She served on the executive boards of Jayhawk Health Initiative and the South Asian Student Association, and she chairs the Counseling and Psychological Services Committee. She has conducted research with KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, and she has been a resident assistant at Ellsworth Hall for three years. In 2015, she received the Millard Fuller Young Philanthropist of the Year Award.
Sana Cheema, biology, is vice president of the Pre-Medical Society and founder and president of KU Friends of Pakistan. She is a University Honors Scholar and serves as the historian for Mortar Board honor society. She is a member of Student Senate and vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Leadership Board.
Danielle London, peace and conflict studies/global and international studies with minors in French and Spanish, has served on the executive board of Students United for Reproductive and Gender Equity as treasurer, outreach coordinator and program director. She is an orientation assistant and peer mentor for the Office of First-Year Experience, and she serves as a student social justice educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She was named a Global Scholar in 2016.
From Overland Park
Zoya Khan, political science and global and international studies with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She has served as president of the Muslim Student Association, and she chaired the Student Senate Multicultural Affairs Committee. She has been a member of KU Students for Refugees, the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board and International Student Services.
Justin Kim, anthropology and visual art, is president of KU Young Democrats and the Student Alumni Leadership Board. He has been a board member of Student Union Activities and the Dole Student Advisory Board. He also created the Kansas Union Gallery Internship Program.
Hannah Schifman, art history and psychology with a minor in leadership studies, is a founding member and vice president of the KU Art History Club and a representative for the Board of Class Officers. She is a Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute alumna and a LeaderShape graduate. She has been a student facilitator for the Colors of KU diversity retreat and a leader during Hawk Week. She interned at KU Hillel and participated in Israel Leadership Mission and Alternative Breaks. She is a member of Student Union Activities and she volunteers at Watkins Museum of History.
Tomas Green, chemical engineering with a minor in public policy, has been a member of Student Senate and the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board, and he has organized events for TEDxKU. He has volunteered at the Willow Domestic Violence Center and has worked with the Citizens Climate Lobby. He is a Self Engineering Leadership Fellow and a 2016 KU Man of Merit. In 2017, he was selected as a Udall Scholar and a Tau Beta Pi Scholar.
Sebastian Huayamares, chemical engineering and mathematics, is a member of Theta Tau fraternity and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He also participates in the University Honors Program and Tau Beta Pi honor society.
A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found online. The Alumni Association and its Student Alumni Network oversee Homecoming 2017, which is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen and supported by Kansas Athletics, PepsiCo and Student Union Activities.
For the second consecutive year, Truity Credit Union will sponsor the KU Alumni Association’s Home Football Fridays for University of Kansas students as well as six TGIT receptions for faculty and staff on Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters.
“We are incredibly grateful for Truity Credit Union’s support of our Lawrence campus events for the KU community,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “With Truity’s help, we can continue collaborating with faculty and staff across the University, in addition to providing greater benefits and opportunities for our students.”
“Truity Credit Union understands the important role KU plays in our community,” said Tim Mock, business development officer for Truity. “Our partnership with the KU Alumni Association will definitely strengthen our relationships with the University’s staff and faculty, and of course, its students.”
The first Home Football Friday lunch for students will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 1 on the front lawn of the Adams Alumni Center, 1266 Oread Ave. on the Lawrence campus. The events, hosted by the Student Alumni Network, will be held each Friday in conjunction with home games throughout the season and will feature free food, beverages, cookies and giveaways from six area restaurants in the Student Alumni Network’s new Restaurant Partner Program. They are Bigg’s BBQ, Hot Box Cookies, Jefferson’s Restaurant, McAlister’s Deli, Papa Keno’s Pizzeria and The Salty Iguana.
The Alumni Association will welcome KU faculty and staff to the Alumni Center for TGIT receptions from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 21, Oct. 19 and Nov. 16 during the fall semester and Feb. 15, March 15 and April 12 during the spring 2018 semester. The receptions will include drink specials, snacks and giveaways.