English classes are perfect prep for aspiring physician

The College Blog - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 13:25

There are some things that you just know you will always love doing. These passions shape your choices in college, and lead you to the type of work that makes you happy and fulfilled. For Megan Hanson, it was always science. And a future as a physician is now firmly on the horizon for this biology major and pre-medicine student.

But along the journey through life, it’s important to remain open to those interests that come out of the blue and surprise you. Megan started taking English classes as part of the pre-med requirements, and just didn’t want to stop. Several classes later, she added a major in English. Now, as Megan looks forward to graduating, she recognizes that those English classes have provided invaluable communications skills, an ability to synthesize lots of information, and an adeptness at connecting with people with different perspectives from all over the world. All of these skills and experience will translate perfectly as Megan continues on her chosen path to work as a physician and a policymaker.

Megan explains why an English major is the perfect complement to science

Be like Megan, check out KU’s degrees in biology and English, and information about premedicine at KU Megan’s KU story in three quotes


Hawk to Watch: Shannon Portillo, professor and campus leader

The College Blog - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 09:56
Public Affairs and Administration class with Professor Shannon Portillo on Edwards Campus. Why Shannon’s a Hawk to Watch:

How to describe the stellar career trajectory of professor Shannon Portillo? Reading back through articles about Shannon on the web and in print, a picture of a prodigious student emerges. “A model student” and “Ph.D. at 23” are just a few of the headlines marking Shannon’s impressive student days. Shannon completed high-school in three years and repeated the feat at KU, polishing off degrees in political science and international studies in 2004. As a student, Shannon was dedicated to more than just her studies, working as a teaching assistant, the program coordinator for the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, and organizing several community events. Juggling research, teaching, learning, and community engagement with mastery continues to define Shannon’s academic career at KU, via four years at George Mason University. Shannon is now Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Administration and is KU’s first ever Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate programs at the KU Edwards Campus. And her impact on campus has been deeply felt by students, winning Shannon multiple awards for mentoring, including the McNair scholars Mentor Award, the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, and the Kathleen McClusky-Fawcett Women Mentoring Women Award. Shannon has already achieved so much, but she remains as dedicated as ever to making higher education more inclusive and accessible through her work. We are thrilled to have this Hawk to Watch right here at KU.

Tell us in a sentence or two what you do for a living:

I’m the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Programs at the KU Edwards Campus and an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration at KU.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

When I first started as a faculty member in 2008 I said my goal was to be the professor I never had. That wasn’t a dig on my faculty, I had some of the most amazing educators and mentors in the world. But, the entire time I was in undergrad and graduate school I never had a class with a Latina professor, and I rarely see women in my field who look like me. I was always going to interdisciplinary spaces to find mentorship. A few years ago a Latina student of mine was graduating and going on to a PhD program in Public Administration. She wrote me a really nice note saying that she could never say that she wanted to be the professor she never had because she had me, now she just has to keep paying it forward.

Shannon Portillo (right) with Senior Nicole Humphrey (left). Nicole Humphrey is a student, and McNair scholar, in Public Adminstration and Political Science. She has worked closely with faculty mentor Shannon Portillo, and has won two UGRA scholarships. What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?

Early in my career I was at an academic conference and had attended a networking dinner. After the dinner I was invited to go out for drinks with a number of senior scholars. At the end of the evening, when I was going back to my hotel, one of the senior male scholars made an inappropriate advance. While that moment was easy to shut down, the affects lasted for a while. I spent a lot of time questioning my ability to do academic work at this level, and whether I was able to navigate a field dominated by older men with reputations for not taking women seriously and trying to take advantage of women. I realized that I needed to be one of the people who was senior in the field so I could work to make sure that same experience doesn’t happen to women in future generations.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

I have my dream job, but half of it didn’t exist 10 years ago. I am first Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Programs at the Edwards Campus. Ten years from now I hope that I’ve continued to move forward with my academic career, publishing work that makes a difference. I also hope that I can continue to be a campus leader pushing to make higher education more equitable, inclusive, and accessible. I am not sure what that title or role looks like, but I am excited to find out.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

When I was 18 I was convinced I was going to go to law school, because I had no idea what going to graduate school meant or what faculty really do. I would say remain curious, and be open to changing plans and new experiences.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?

I was prepared to face the rigors of research, had the opportunity to create and teach my own classes, and really saw what it meant to be a good departmental citizen and colleague. I appreciate the balance my education gave me, preparing me for the multifaceted aspects of my career.

What’s your best KU memory?

Every year when I see a new class walk down the hill at graduation, and when we sing the Alma Matter at our School of Public Affairs & Administration graduation banquet I can’t help but think about the joy of my own hooding ceremony. My grandparents and parents met my advisor at my hooding ceremony, and seeing the look on their face when he called me Dr. Portillo at that ceremony was wonderful.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

I love to cook. When I was in graduate school I realized that research is something that really never ends and your friends are never quite as into your work as you are, so I wanted a hobby with a discrete end that would be easy to share with friends. Bringing friends and family together over a good meal and delicious cocktails is important to me.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I’ve had the incredible privilege to travel to five continents, in dozens of countries. I love to travel, but I can’t imagine a better place to call home.

Be like Shannon. Here’s more information on studying  Political Science, International Studies, and Public Administration at KU.

Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. 

Zoya Khan is dedicated to building inclusive communities

The College Blog - Tue, 04/24/2018 - 09:18

It’s hard to believe that Zoya Khan hasn’t been involved in politics all of her life. Since arriving at KU she’s served as a student senator, president of the Muslim Student Association, diversity, equity & inclusion ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and has been a member of KU Students for Refugees,  the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board and International Studies Services. Zoya’s extraordinary service to the University of Kansas was recognized at the 2017 Homecoming football game when she was announced as one of two winners of the KU Alumni Association’s Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. 

When Zoya rocked up at KU in 2015, however, she’d had very little experience in politics. While at high school in Overland Park, Kansas, Zoya planned to follow in her parents foot-steps and pursue a career in medicine. And that desire to help others has always remained. But it was the experience of being a first generation Muslim American that prompted Zoya to throw her energy into student politics.

Building an inclusive KU community has been a key part of Zoya’s work at KU. Coupled with the knowledge and skills she’s gaining through her majors in global & international studies and political science and a minor in middle east studies, we are excited to see what Zoya does next at KU, and in the future when she intends to pursue graduate education to prepare for a career in public policy.

Zoya discusses her experience with us:

Be like Zoya, Here are links to the KU’s Center for Global & International Studies, the Department of Political Science, and the Middle East Studies program. Zoya’s KU story in three quotes:

Triple major combo leads to research project that improves lives

The College Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:28

Majors: Law & Society, Applied Behavioral Science, and Spanish

Describe your research in a few sentences that we can all understand:

My project looks at collaboration within community task forces addressing human trafficking in the Midwest. Since these teams can be comprised of government officials, non-profit organizations, law enforcement officials, first responders, and even concerned citizens, I am trying to discover if these different professions view collaboration in the same way when working on the task force. I want to know if the similarities or differences in the perceptions of collaboration within a task force have implications for how the task force addresses human trafficking.

What is the most exciting part of doing research?

I would say that I love collecting data! My project uses qualitative data that I collect through a series of interviews with members on anti-human trafficking task forces. Being able to ask questions to people working in a field that I am passionate about has been really exciting! But, I would say the most exciting part of doing research is getting to see patterns develop across the data, especially when they are not the patterns that I thought I would find.

What did you learn by participating in the Undergraduate Research Seminar? 

In participating in the Undergraduate Research Seminar, I learned that presenting your own research is nerve-wracking, but so energizing. Since it allowed people to ask me questions on my research, I was better able to understand how to present my research in the future to provide stronger connections between my findings and the background literature in both human trafficking and collaboration.

I also learned a lot from hearing the other presenters. Every field has different protocol for conducting research and hearing how the other presenters conducted their own research helps me better understand their passions and how these different research techniques complement each other in academia.

Give your research advisor a shout-out:

Why should other students enroll in the Honors program?

I’ve gained so much from being in the Honors program. If you have the opportunity, apply. Tell your friends to apply too. The Honors program makes it possible for you to shape your KU experience to whatever you want to accomplish.

Why did you choose your major (majors)? And how do they complement each other? 

I am a triple major in Applied Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Community Health and Development, Law and Society in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Spanish.

Law and Society looks at the policies themselves and how their application affects different groups of people. Conversely, Applied Behavioral Science looks at how those groups of people react to factors in their environment, such as the implemented policies, and provides a way to naturally observe the effectiveness of these policies and point to problems that still need to be addressed. Finally, one of the best ways to understand the perspectives of others is to understand their language. My goal is to learn more languages in the future, but at the moment my Spanish major allows me to work toward fluency in Spanish.

What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?

I would say that the benefit of having so many different students studying different fields is that I never feel like my learning is occurring inside a vacuum. I have constant access to new perspectives that challenge me to think outside of the box. It allows me to gain a breadth and depth of knowledge.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I want to work in public policy and advocacy after I graduate by working with governmental and non-governmental organizations to achieve sustainable solutions to inequality in our society. Everyone deserves a voice, and I want to work to help make that possible.

What would you tell your freshman self?

I’m actually only in my second year at KU, but if I could go back and have a conversation with my freshman self, I would remind myself to stay in the moment. It is so easy to stress out about the what-ifs and lose sight of what is happening in that moment. It’s great to make plans, but as I have discovered in research, some things are simply outside of your control. All you can do is stay in the moment and work towards solving the problems at hand.

What motivates you?

I have had many people and experiences in my life that motivate me to work diligently in my research, coursework, extracurriculars, and at my job; however, one of the greatest motivations in my life has continued to be service to others. Everything I do, I do with the intention that the knowledge I gain or the products that I produce can help others. I think that serving others should be the primary motivation of any venture.

Zachary Kelsay: researcher and problem solver

The College Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:27


Global and International Studies and History

Describe your research in a few sentences that we can all understand:


What did you learn by participating in the Undergraduate Research Seminar?

Using imagery to simplify intricate concepts can be useful for communicating ideas efficiently. I really like how interdisciplinary the seminar was and allowed me to explore research in other fields.

Give your research advisor a shout-out:

Why did you choose your major (majors)? And how do they complement each other? 

I chose international studies because it encouraged a balance between several different fields including language studies. Within GIST, I have had the opportunity to take classes in economics, anthropology, and Spanish which later helped me specialize on my research interests. I chose History because its provides a lot of context for international events and history professors tend to be exceptional researchers and writers.

What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?

Students have diverse specializations and perspectives to raise the level of conversation.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I want to work for a foreign policy think tank.

What motivates you?

Fear… just kidding. I really like to accomplish at least one thing every day so that I feel like I am making effective use of my time.

Classics and Computer Science, a perfect match

The College Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:26


Describe your research in a few sentences that we can all understand:

My current research pertains to the metaphors which Vergil employs to delineate a rhetoric of movement and stasis in the Aeneid. Throughout the text, Vergil develops a sense of stasis and fixity surrounding Aeneas while Dido is constantly associated with movement and wandering. While this is clearly an inversion of their physical states, Vergil flips the script after Dido’s death. In this project, I hope to explicate Dido and Aeneas’ relationship within the epic and demonstrate Aeneas as the typical Roman agent of fixity or stasis akin to the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) which Augustus “established” in the first century.

What is the most exciting part of doing research?

To me, the most exciting part of doing research is finding points for scholarly intervention—points where other scholars have made assumptions or passed over analysis that would have been beneficial to the field. This is where you can make your mark and contribute something valuable.

What did you learn by participating in the Undergraduate Research Seminar? Did you learn anything from the other participants that will help with your own studies?

Everyone can always improve something about their work and that’s the beauty of academia. This seminar highlights that and establishes a really safe and comfortable environment for testing out your research and scholarly ideas.

Give your research advisor a shout-out:

Are you in the Honors program? If so, why should other students enroll in the Honors program?

I am in the Honors program and it is through this involvement that I met Dr. Anne Dotter, who encouraged me to participate in the seminar, Dr. Anne Wallen and Dr. Mary Klayder, who set me on my academic trajectory, Dr. Phil Baringer, who led an excellent interdisciplinary seminar, and many other who have supported me throughout my time as an undergraduate. In addition to being a great resource for advising and academic support, the Honors program has provided financial assistance for all of my endeavors, ranging from study abroad programs to conference presentations.

Why did you choose your major (majors)? And how do they complement each other? 

I originally came to KU as a Computer Science major and I really loved it for a period of time. I started taking Latin courses and double majored in Classical Antiquity for a while until I fell out of love with Computer Science and switched wholly to Classics. It was a really difficult decision process, one fraught with the problems of funding, career prospects, et al., but I eventually decided to major in a field that I loved and knew had transferable skills to whatever I might want to do next.

What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?

I think my favorite class at KU has been Roman Gender & Sexuality, which I took with Anthony Corbeill a little over a year ago. That class was my first real exposure to academic scholarship and Prof. Corbeill was an incredibly engaging professor. I loved it.

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I am currently awaiting responses to my graduate program applications. My hope is to attend a fully-funded PhD program in Classics, perhaps spending some time in an M.A. program first.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Don’t stress the small stuff and, to quote the immortal words of Mary Klayder, “It will be fine” (my italics). I was so stressed about switching out of CS and into Classics for a variety of reasons, but after I made the decision, things fell squarely into place and I never looked back.

What motivates you?

Knowing that I can contribute to the scholarly discussion on these topics which have been studied for centuries motivates me. Seeing how Classical literature relates to people today and that there are still lessons to be learned from these ancient minds is inspiring. After presenting some of my research at the Undergraduate Research Seminar, one student told me “I had no idea Classics was this cool!” Reactions like that motivate me.

After a decade away, Caleb returns to complete KU degree

The College Blog - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 07:59

Why did you choose your majors and minors?

I have, from a very early age, been interested in politics and history. I was a junior in high school when the September 11th Attacks took place, and after that, I was determined to pursue these interests as a career.

How do your majors and minors complement one another? What is one class at KU everyone should take, and why? What is one class at KU that everyone should take, and why? What’s a fun fact about you?



Sam Blaufuss: Double-Major

The College Blog - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:35

Freshman Sam Blaufuss makes the best of two worlds by combining classes from the KU School of Journalism and the College. As a double-major in strategic communications and film & media studies, with an emphasis in production, Sam has classes and experiences that will prepare him for the world beyond college. But Blaufuss isn’t all work and no play – he can be spotted on campus wearing a pair of boots that he got and wore at an old job working at Lawrence’s cemetery!

Here’s Sam in three quotes:

Learning the skills to improve the world

The College Blog - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:07


Internship title and organization: Chapters & Global Education Interns, People to People International, in Kansas City, Missouri

What were your responsibilities during your internship? 

Gabby: My responsibilities include archiving and updating records for the international mural project, planning and developing resources for the 2018 Global Youth Forum, reading and blogging for the international book club every month, public outreach for events, and data entry to update the chapters worldwide. Also, I review and offer recommendations for scholarships and grants submitted to People to People International.

Taesuck: Organizing chapters and creating idea and projects through power point are my responsibilities.


In spring 2018, three KU students interned at People to People International in Kansas City, Missouri. They are Stefanie Weiland (far left), Taesuck Lee (third from the left) and Gabby Ale-Ebrahim (second from the right).

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship? 

Gabby: Public outreach for the Global Youth Forum has been my favorite part of the internship so far because I love talking to people and informing them about opportunities with People to People International.

Taesuck: Creating ideas and sharing them with colleagues. Also, I really enjoyed meeting new people and learning about working in a professional environment.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future? 

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

Gabby: All of the global and international studies classes I have taken prepared me for this internship because they have taught me time management and editing skills. Time management and editing skills have been useful at my internship when blogging for the international book club and making sure I complete tasks on time.


Why did you choose your majors/minors?

Gabby: I have always been fascinated with languages, religions, and cultures.

Taesuck: I like learning about global issues and different cultures. I also like traveling around the world. I am interested in learning Latin American studies because I have never learned about this field in my county, and my country does not have much information and studies about this area/.

What do you plan to do next?

Gabby: I plan on finishing my research for my Global and International Studies Capstone and graduating in May of 2018. I hope to make a positive impact on a local and global level and I am open to potential non-profit and international career opportunities.

Taesuck: I am planning to another internship this summer, hopefully in Washington D.C. After that, I plan to do an internship or work in Brazil.

What do you like best about studying in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU?

Gabby: The best part about being in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is that I was able to have time in my four-year plan to study abroad. Studying abroad in Israel expanded my worldview and broadened my perspectives.

Taesuck: There is a wide variety of courses to choose from. There are so many options, so I can develop my special area.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Gabby: I would tell myself that it is okay to make mistakes and fail. Sometimes you have to fail at something to lead yourself to the right path that you are meant to be on. For example, I was a nursing major for a semester and struggled through chemistry which made me realize my strengths are in writing and editing instead of science. I am so happy that I switched to Global and International Studies because it is not only my passion, but the major fits my strengths well.


Who is your biggest inspiration?

Gabby: My biggest inspiration is Malala Yousafzai because of her courage despite being surrounded by imminent danger. She was shot by the Taliban on her way to school and survived. She went on to write an autobiography about her life story and she strives to be a humanitarian activist. I want to be like her because she is fearless, driven, and values education.

Taesuck: My KU friends. It’s great to learn from their different perspectives, and they all have their own clear goals for what they want to do next. These conversations help motivate me to pursue my own goals.

Nila Khan: Taking the Pre-Med Track

The College Blog - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 15:21

Why did you choose your majors and minors?

I am currently a pre-med student and I picked my majors and minors to help better prepare me for the MCAT and the subject matter I would most likely see in medical school.

How do your majors and minors complement one another?

I have biology as my major and am planning to declare anthropology and psychology as my minors in the future. These complement each other well because I feel a pre-med student should be well-rounded and not only focus on the physiological aspect of healthcare.


What is your favorite KU memory?

My favorite KU memories are watching Game of Thrones with my roommates even though we all have other things we should be doing and are secretly panicking on the inside.

What is one class everyone should take at KU, and why?

Fun Fact:

Whenever I have free time I like to play video games: The Witcher 3, League of Legends, NieR Automata, etc.

Aly Lange interns at the UN

The College Blog - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 14:58

Hometown: Platte City, MO

Majors: Global and International Studies, Spanish minor

Why did you choose your majors/minors? I have a passion for learning about the world around me and complex issues in global social justice.

Internship title and organization: Press and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations

What were your responsibilities during your internship? 

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship? I was given a pass to enter the United Nations building whenever I wanted to! So I was able to sit in on U.N. Security Council meetings, High-Level Political Platforms on the Sustainable Development Goals, and other interesting events. I also was able to give the Editor in Chief of Glamour magazine a brief tour of the UN!

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future? 

As a future attorney, being able to speak with lawyers at the USUN about their experiences was very enlightening. I was also able to learn both what the UN is effective in doing and where it falls short as a global power.

How have the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

What do you plan to do next?

I will begin law school beginning in the Fall of 2018!

What do you like best about studying in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU?

Through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, I’ve had the opportunity to take diverse and interesting classes that helped me discover my true vocation.

What would you tell your freshman self?

That I shouldn’t force myself into remaining within the limited scope of interests and skills I think I have, to not be afraid to expand my horizons. Furthermore, that my perception of myself and the world will naturally change quite a bit during my time at KU, and to enjoy the ride!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration are marginalized people who refuse to comply with injustice. As an attorney, I want to advocate for and represent the oppressed and marginalized and champion their causes. DACA recipients who have organized and demanded legislation in the midst of fear of deportation, people of color who dismantle systemic racism daily, feminists who assert the equal dignity of men and women – these people give me hope and inspire me to pursue justice.

Internship provides firsthand experience in non-profit sector

The College Blog - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 12:47

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Majors: Double majoring in Humanities (Peace and Conflict Studies) and Global and International Studies; double minoring in Business and French

Internship title and organization: Global Chapters Intern at People to People International (PTPI) in Kansas City, Missouri

During her internship Sara worked on a winning grant application awarded to People to People International’s Kigoma, Tanzania-Nyarugusu Camp Chapter for a multi-cultural workshop on HIV/AIDs and SGBV prevention to be a local platform that unifies young people to carefully investigate what could be the root-causes.”

What were your responsibilities during your internship? 

I organized and headed the 2017 Joyce C Hall International College Scholarship Program and the 2017 International Chapter Grant Project. Additional responsibilities included communicating with each chapter regarding updating chapter records, membership renewal, documenting and sharing community service projects, and accomplishments with PTPI international membership via newsletters and social media.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship? 

One of the programs PTPI offers is a Student Ambassador program – something I participated in while I was in middle school. I went to Europe for three weeks with a group of students, and this experience really made me love history, traveling, and studying culture. It led me to the degrees I’m now pursuing, so it was awesome being able to intern with an organization that has had a significant impact on my life and college career.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

This internship allowed me to see all the theories and concepts I’ve learned in my classes in action. For example, many of my Peace and Conflict classes have discussed cosmopolitanism, which is essentially PTPI’s framework for peace. Their mission is to enhance understanding and friendship through humanitarian activities and exchanging ideas and experiences. Analyzing concepts in the classroom that are actually being used by international organizations and non-profits to approach real problems in the world adds more weight both to my education and my internship experience.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future? 



What do you plan to do next?

This spring is my final semester on the KU Campus, but I will be studying abroad in the fall at Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium through ISEP Direct. I will be completing a European Peace and Security Studies certificate through classes that analyze the changing nature and challenges of contemporary security and peace issues, and through a high-profile guest lecture series. After graduating in December, I plan to work in the non-profit sector to gain work experience then apply to International Affaires graduate programs.

Why did you choose your majors/minors?

Global and International Studies requires the study of a language, so I minored in French because France was one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to. I decided to minor in Business after being in a marketing club in high school, and I thought it would be a good addition to a Global and International Studies B.A.

What do you like best about studying in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU?

There is a lot of room for flexibility and studying all the subjects you are passionate about. Because of this multidisciplinary aspect of many KU College programs, I was about to double major and double minor. Studying in the College really allowed me to maximize and make the most out of my college experience.

What would you tell your freshman self?

As a senior, I’ve realized that four years passes pretty quickly. I would tell freshman self to make the most of every experience and opportunity.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My grandmother has always been a big inspiration in my life. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she decided to make her last years count by taking my family traveling all over the world. She pushed me to partake in the PTPI Student Ambassador program and instilled in me a love of travel and exploration. I will always be grateful for the opportunities she gave me because they led me to pursue these degrees.

Annie Landis: To the stars through difficulty

The College Blog - Thu, 04/05/2018 - 14:36

Listening to the radio can change your life. You’re driving in your car, bopping along to your favorite songs, when an advert interjects telling you that you can still complete your degree at the University of Kansas. Don’t believe us? Just ask Annie Landis, a KU College student majoring in English, with a minor in psychology. Here’s what happened:

Annie had arrived at KU in 2012 as a pre-pharmacy student. Like many starting college, Annie approached freshman year as a time of explore the subjects that she was both passionate about and that aligned with her future aspirations. An enlightening experience in a freshman English class lit a fire in Annie, and she decided to switch to English. A psychology minor was added shortly after. All was going well, until Annie’s grandma passed away in 2015 and Annie needed to leave College to get a job to pay the bills. In her typically matter of fact way Annie describes this moment as “life happens.” But she always harbored hopes of one day returning to KU to finish her degree.

And then, in 2016, when driving home from work, Annie heard a advertisement for the College Online while listening to Pandora. She turned up the volume. But the possibility didn’t seem real that first time she heard it. Throughout that year, the advert followed Annie everywhere she went, repeating the same message between songs: there is a way to go back to school while continuing to work in order to pay her bills. Eventually Annie decided to act and reached out to the College Online for more information. “Before I knew it, I was readmitted to KU, eager to begin again in Spring 2017,” Annie remembers. She’s not looked back.

Annie’s KU experience is now shaping her future plans to work in higher education. As the first person in her family to attend college, she’s passionate about helping all students access an university education, and stay the course. At KU, Annie’s thrown herself into a variety of campus positions offering advice to students. She’s worked as an orientation assistant and ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and as a Hawk Link guide for the Office of Multi-cultural Affairs. Graduate school is next on the horizon for this compassionate KU College Jayhawk, and then a career dedicated to helping others, especially first-generation students, succeed at university.

Annie discusses her experience with us:

Be like Annie, Here’s links to the College Online, KU’s English Department and KU’s Psychology Department. Annie’s KU story in four quotes:

Bio Means Business – A Peek into Grace Proett’s KU Life

The College Blog - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:08


Why did you choose your majors and minors? 

I choose Biology as my major with hopes of a career in a medical field so that I may work to better the quality of others lives. As well, a minor in business will help me gain the skills for effective marketing & business strategies.

How do your majors and minors complement one another?

This major and minor allows my two greatest interests to be combined – helping people and developing leadership skills. I would like to go into biotech sales and this is a great option for me to combine the health care field with the creativity of marketing.

What is your favorite KU memory?

The best thing I have done since coming to KU was live in a residence hall my freshman year. It allowed me to meet many of my best friends and get involved in different organizations throughout campus. It instantly made KU feel smaller and the hill feel like home!

What is one class at KU that everyone should take, and why?

I really enjoyed taking a first year seminar, I learned about so many resources KU offers and have been able to use those resources in the semesters since.

What’s a fun fact about you:


Exploring Biodiversity: Benedictus Freeman’s Story

The College Blog - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 09:37


Name: Benedictus Freeman

Term: 2nd year Ph.D. student

Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Advisor: A. Townsend Peterson

Research interests: Conservation biology, distributional ecology, ecological niche modeling, and climate change

Research summary: My research seeks to explain the current and future distributions of West African biodiversity, particularly birds. I want to know how they are influenced by global climate change now, and in the future (50 to 100 years from now), and what conservation approaches can we take to ensure that they continue to persist through these environmental changes.

Recommended KU class: Research ethics

Fun fact about me:

Studying at KU from the other side of the Atlantic has been fun, except that I have to brace for the unpredictable Kansas weather.

Disney Princess & Future Doctor: Natasha LaGrega

The College Blog - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 14:05

Why did you choose your majors and minors?

I am currently pursuing a B.A. in Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology on a pre-med track. The reason why I choose to be a B.A. in Biochemistry instead of the more common Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) is because even though I love science, I also love English and humanities classes. A B.A. allows me to take four semesters of Spanish and other humanities classes that would provide me with a well-rounded education and opportunities in bilingual medicine. I am also a psychology minor because human behavior is of great interest to me, especially human development and abnormal mental conditions.

How do your majors and minors complement one another?

My minor in psychology goes great with my biochemistry major because it allows me to look at the other side of the same coin; focusing on the human behavior aspect and the development of life.


What is your favorite KU memory?

As of right now, my favorite KU memory would have to be Late Night at the Phog because it truly started the year off right by getting all the students into the KU Spirit! They introduced all the basketball players, and at the end, Lil Boat performed and came up into the stands with the students.

What’s one class at KU that everyone should take, and why?

I recommend taking any class with Mary Klayder. She is a wonderful professor, and loves to become a friend and advisor to her students!

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have been an on-call Disney Princess for the Dream Factory. I dress up as Princess Belle and help reveal dreams to kids!

Mikki Brock, Historian of Witchcraft

The College Blog - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 08:27

Why Mikki’s a Hawk to Watch:

Witches and demons are everywhere. They make themselves known in T.V. shows, movies and video games, appearing as the nemesis to humans in horror movies or as heroes like Harry Potter and friends. The language of witch hunts has also made a come back in 2017 and 2018, invoked by prominent individuals like Woody Allen and even the President of the U.S.A. to decry a wide range of investigations that have dominated the news during these year. This did not go unnoticed by Mikki Brock, a KU College alum and historian of witchcraft, demonology and much more at Washington and Lee University. She decided to act.

Mikki’s research focuses on early modern Britain, but everything has a history and it was the modern misuse of the topics that she knew so much about that gave Mikki a way into the debate. All of the research and ideas that went into writing her debut book, Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c. 1560-1700, grounds Mikki’s ideas on contemporary issues and culture. In October 2017, she debunked the current use of the term witch hunt in a Washington Post article titled ‘No, there is no witch hunt against powerful men.‘ Mikki also draws on her historical knowledge to talk about popular video games, such as Diablo III. It’s Mikki’s success bridging both the rigors of being a published academic scholar and her contributions to public debate and popular culture that makes her our April Hawk to Watch.

Tell us what you do for a living:

I am an assistant professor of British history at Washington and Lee University.


What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far? 

Besides getting the Ph.D., I’d have to say the publication of my first book, Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c. 1560-1700, in 2016. Writing a book is truly a labor of love—sometimes more labor than love!— but I still feel a thrill every time I see the copy in my office.

What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?

So much of life as a professor is a rollercoaster. Rejections— of articles and book manuscripts, job and grant applications, and so forth—are an unpleasant but expected and necessary part of the academic path. The key is not to take rejections of one’s work personally, even though it often feels personal. At low moments in my career, I try to translate criticism or “failures” into motivation to move forward and create space for new ideas and inspiration. Hearing “no” is never easy, but it is crucial to remember that everyone gets rejected or has missteps in their careers.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

A full professor, finished with my second book, and still excited every day about teaching history. I’d also like to be more involved in communicating about the importance of history to audiences outside the walls of academia.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

That life is profoundly unpredictable, and no amount of planning or worry can completely dictate how things will look one, two, or ten years down the road. Be open to new ideas and experiences, and remember that self-worth should not be determined by achievements and accolades.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Do what you love, and don’t be afraid of hard work and taking risks. At the same time, learn to say no when you need to. I think this is especially important for women to hear, as we are so often socialized to say “yes” to meeting the needs and demands of others.

How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?

As a professor at a small liberal arts college, my training in an interdisciplinary major where I was exposed to a range of fields and perspectives has proven invaluable.

Until this course, I had never carefully considered how structures of power operate, how meaningful social change is actually achieved, or how historical figures we tend to adore or abhor are so much more complex than they appear at first blush. This is not because the professor spoon fed us his own beliefs and interpretations, but rather because he asked, prepared, and empowered us to critically investigate our own. I now try to do the same for students in my own classroom.

 What’s your best KU memory?

I have two academic experiences that really stand out: In summer of 2005, I studied abroad in the U.K. with the British Summer Institute. It was there, on the streets of Oxford and Edinburgh, and in conversations with Mary Klayder, that I first considered pursuing a PhD in British history. The following fall, I took a course on Medieval Russian History with Eve Levin, who provided essential guidance (and endless patience!) as I applied to graduate school and completed an honors capstone.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

I’m an avid reader of fiction, and I spend my summers and breaks reading as much as I can. In the last couple of years, I’ve taken up running, which I really enjoy and is an awesome stress reliever. I’m also a bit of a politics junky, and I love great journalism—I read lots of newspapers and magazines, keep up with Twitter, and regularly listen to political podcasts. Not sure if this counts as a relaxing hobby, though J

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

Due to a childhood spent in Dallas, I have an exhaustive and encyclopedic knowledge of 90’s country music songs and their lyrics. This is especially surprising given that I don’t regularly listen to country music.

Be like Mikki. Here’s more information on studying humanities and history at KU.

Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. 

Alex Olsen’s internship inspires her own production

The College Blog - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 11:20

Hometown: Rogers, Arkansas

Major(s): Dance major, psychology minor

Internship title and organization: Production Intern at the American Dance Festival

What were your responsibilities during your internship? 

As a production intern, I was able to work backstage for the biggest modern dance festival in the U.S.

It was a running joke at ADF that production interns make the show happen, and it’s true. The crew was made up of only interns. There were no full-time staff, which gave us the opportunity to learn everything we possibly could.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship? 

My favorite part of ADF was the satisfaction of knowing I played a valuable part in making the festival successful. I also loved being able to work with some incredible dance companies such as Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Pilobolus, Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre and so many more. Every day there was something new.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future? 

It was a demanding internship. I was working 90 hours a week, so the most valuable thing I learned is how to work under duress. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s true. I learned how to work through high stress and exhaustion, and I think that is something I can take with me into any career.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

How has your internship experience helped you in your classes?

My internship hasn’t directly helped me in my classes, but it has helped me in productions I’ve done since. In October 2017, I was an assistant under my professor James Moreno for a show in Chicago, and the knowledge I gained about ADF about dance production helped me know exactly what we would need. Further, my own show, Boundless, opens this March. I built this show from the ground up, and my experience at ADF has helped me more than I can even say. I knew how to hire and speak with a lighting designer, how to set a stage, how to work with choreographers, and everything else I need to do run a smooth show.

Why did you choose your majors/minors?

I started out as a double major in dance and psychology because I wanted to be a dance therapist, but after producing my first dance showcase, I realized I had a passion for it. I dropped my psychology major to a minor so that I could put my energy into dance.

What do you plan to do next?

I just recently got accepted into the Leadership for the Creative Enterprises Masters Program at Northwestern University in Chicago! I’m really excited to move to Chicago and keep learning how to make dance happen. Someday, I hope to be a manager for a modern dance company.

What do you like best about studying in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU?

What would you tell your freshman self?

I’m not the most technically advanced dancer. My freshman year, I was always really upset about not getting cast in pieces and feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I would tell myself that physically dancing isn’t my passion, and that I need to be patient until I find it. I like to say that I love to “make dance happen.” Now, I look back and laugh a little at my insecurity in my dancing because I get more joy from watching dancers on stage knowing that I made that possible.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is my mom. It’s cliché, but her and I are extremely close, and we support each other 100%. She’s been through a lot, and whenever I face a challenge, I channel her energy to get through it. I honestly don’t know anyone with a relationship with their mom like I have, and every day I’m reminded how lucky I am to have her.

Could you tell us a little about the show you are putting on here at KU?

With pieces about issues from the #MeToo movement to individuality to support systems, Boundless covers a wide range of women’s issues. This show is also set in the round, which is a first for the dance department. It’s been a challenge communicating this concept and making sure choreographers create accordingly, but the result will create a unique, intimate space.

Be like Alex, check out the KU Department of Dance

Mentoring & Music – Julia Ogle

The College Blog - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:27

Why did you choose your majors and minors?

I chose to major in applied behavioral science because my therapist in high school helped me get my life on track when mental illness was decreasing my quality of life, and I want to help adolescents who are in a similar situation. Along with my minor in psychology, I’ll have the knowledge needed to help mentor youths who have truancy issues, and I hope to eventually be certified as a mental health counselor. I decided to also minor in music because music also helped me improve my mental health in high school and I wanted to continue to learn about it in college.

How do your majors and minors complement one another?

Applied behavioral science is the study of improving peoples’ lives through various behavioral treatments and psychology is the study of the mind, so those two complement each other in obvious ways. Music ties in to the mix because in its own way, it is therapeutic and helps stimulate mental growth. In fact, music therapy is a promising branch of therapy and is being recommended for more and more types of clients!

What is your favorite KU memory?

What is one class at KU that everyone should take, and why?

ABSC 360: Drugs, Addiction, and Behavior. It’s fascinating to learn about the ways different chemicals interact with the various systems of the body and hearing about up and coming forms of treatments for drug addiction.

What’s a fun fact about you:

I went to the Illinois All State Music Conference my junior and senior years of high school as a percussionist and performed with top student musicians from around the state. I made some of my favorite memories during those times!


Become a Jayhawk Jedi: 14 KU College classes

The College Blog - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 08:20

Welcome, padawans to Jayhawk Jedi training camp. Master the skills needed to understand the Star Wars Universe by completing these 14 KU core College classes. Will you gain enough to stand with Rey and defeat Kylo Ren?

PCS 120 Introduction to Peace & Conflict Studies

Jedi are warriors of peace, defending the defenseless when necessary but mostly seeking to resolve conflict without physical force. Discover how and why violence emerges in human societies in PCS 120 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, and you might make sense of what drives the Sith. Lessons on the diverse ways humans have sought peace through history will provide models for creating peace in the universe.

LDST 201 Introduction to Leadership

The Resistance needs strong leaders. Learn to lead like Leia by taking LDST 201 Introduction to Leadership Studies. You’ll study theories and research on core themes of leadership, focusing on how course materials relate to your own leadership experiences.

HIST 140 / EVRN 140 Global Environments I:Discovery Environment Change

Has Tatooine or Jakku always been so dry and arid? Or did something change in the climate? What about the frozen Tundra of Hoth? Was Luke Skywalker’s adventures there in a polar region of the planet, or is the entire planet frozen? You could become the first Jedi to pay real attention to understanding the climate by taking EVRN 140 Global Environments I, and gaining knowledge on the history of environmental systems and life on earth, the discovery of biotic evolution, ecological change, and climate change. This interdisciplinary course and laboratory sections survey the foundations of environmental understanding and the process of scientific discovery from perspectives that combine the principles and methodologies of the humanities, physical, life and social sciences.

ANTH 106 Introductory Linguistics 

Wouldn’t it be fun, and helpful, to be able to chat to Chewie! While KU’s School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures offers over 40 languages, Shyriwook isn’t one of them. Learn to decipher the fundamentals of linguistics by taking ANTH 106 Introductory Linguistics. You’ll explore the sound system, grammatical structure and semantic structure of languages. The course will include a survey of language in culture and society, language change, computational linguistics and psycholinguistics, and will introduce students to techniques of linguistic analysis in a variety of languages including English.

GEOL 121 Life Through Time: DNA to Dinos

The Star Wars galaxy has over over 400 billion estimated stars, and over 3.2 million habitable systems. Knowing how the environments in the different galactic regions work will help you understand what kind of life might be there the minute you land. Prepare by taking GEOL 121 Life Through Time and learn about life through time on Earth, from DNA to Dinos. This course leads students on a journey through time to explore the interconnection between life and the geology of Earth, including our own complex relationship with the world around us.

DANC 330 Approaches to World Dance

So, you’re dropping in to meet a friend at Cahlmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley and the band suddenly jumps into life. As Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes get going, you’ll likely be inspired to dance and a diverse range of intergalactic styles on show. Prep for your alien boogie by conquering earthly dance forms in DANC 330 Approaches to World Dance. You’ll examine dance from throughout the world and how they relate to the times and cultures in which they evolved.

ASTR 191 Contemporary Astronomy

Knowing the structure and evolution of the universe should be Jayhawk Jedi training 101, but if you missed that you can take ASTR 191 Contemporary Astronomy and learn all about nearby planets and distant quasars. Topics include recent discoveries concerning planets, stars, pulsars and black holes as well as their evolution, the structure of the universe today and how it will be in the future. The emphasis is descriptive rather than mathematical. The Death Star is not part of the syllabus, as it’s been destroyed, twice.

THR 120 Public Speaking as Performance

As the universe’s guardians of peace and justice, Jedi need to be able to negotiate and inspire. And besides, if you’re up against a skilled speaker like General Palpatine who inspired many with his Declaration of a New Order, you’d better be prepared to give a rousing rebute. Prep for that moment when you’ll need to rally the troops by take THR 120 Public Speaking as Performance and learn how to manage performance anxiety, organize a narrative, speak extemporaneously and articulate clearly.

ATMO 220 Unusual Weather 

Planet hopping across the galaxy you need to be prepared to understand a huge range of weather systems. From the intense heat of desert-planet Tatooine to the swampy phog-covered forests of Yoda’s home on Dagobah to the blizzards of frozen Hoth, you’ll encounter all degrees across the weather spectrum. Get ready by taking ATMO 220 Unusual Weather and you may even be able to prevent the sort of climate disruptor that the Empire used to cause fires and foods across Naboo.

ECON 110 The Economics of Globalization

Inter-planetary trade is a key feature of the Star Wars universe. There are intergalactic firms operating across planetary systems, trade agreements to manage complex deals across economies, and varied currencies and tax codes, while the Corporate Sector in the Universe’s Outer Rim is a sort of free trade zone including tens of thousands of planetary systems. Be prepared to go head to head with the Trade Federation by taking ECON 110 The Economics of Globalization to understand who wins and loses in the economics of globalization and other major considerations of economics on this grand scale.

POLS 170 Intro to International Politics

We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problems, agree what’s in the best interests of all the people, and then do it.” – Anakin Skywalker
That is exactly what we do. The trouble is that people don’t always agree.” – Padmé Amidala

Whether it’s the monarchy of King Lee-Char’s Mon Cala, the more democratic Galactic Republic, the dictatorship of Palpatine’s First Galactic Empire, or Naboo’s constitutional monarchy, leaders across the Star Wars universe use a wide range of political systems. Some are small entities akin to a nation-state, others span many planets. Make sense of the role of nationalism, sovereignty, and power by enrolling in POLS 170 Intro to International Politics. Patterns of state action including neutralism, collective security, war, and cooperation through international organizations are covered. Specific examples of contemporary international problems are also analyzed and discussed.

REL 104 Intro to Religious Studies 

Is Jediism a religion? Some on Earth believe so. Looking further afield, across the galaxy, a Jayhawk Jedi will encounter people with a diverse range of believes, making it imperative that you to have a key understanding of how to study and appreciate different religions. Luckily REL 104 Intro to Religious Studies is here to help you get to grips with key methods and issues in religious studies, while providing an introductory survey of selected religions.

GEOG 102 People, Place, and Society

The Ewoks prove that you don’t need complex technology to live a good life, or help bring down the Empire. The Ewoks live a sustainable life that’s in touch with nature on the forest moon of Endor. But how much does the environment shape their activities, or others across the galaxy. GEOG 102 People, Place, and Society will offer you a chance to examine the relationships between humans and their environments. And then you can see how it applies to the Ewoks, Wookiees, and other societies of varied beings. You’ll be introduced to basic concepts in human geography relating to economic activities, landscapes, languages, migrations, nations, regions, and religions.


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