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Earn credit in the KU Core with these 11 College classes

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 14:41

Looking to fulfill some KU Core credits next semester? Take a class in a subject that you’re passionate about or you’d like to learn more about! Classes in the Core can be a great opportunity to explore new topics, get a feel for classes in a particular major, or to take a breather from classes in your field of study. Don’t know where to start? We have some suggestions. Check out these 11 classes you can take in the Spring semester and earn Core credits.

ART 101 Art – Drawing I

Drawing allows us to communicate complex ideas, moods, and emotions through visual expression. It gives us a way to build a world of our own making through line and shading. If you’re hoping to get creative this Spring, check out Drawing I and other classes offered in the KU School of the Arts!

Introductory study of Drawing with emphasis on tools, techniques and observational development. Studio class includes intensive in-class exercises, lectures, images, and assignments. Students develop a formal fine arts vocabulary and gain verbal and written skills in critical analysis through individual and group critiques. Six hours scheduled studio activity and approximately six hours outside work weekly. Prerequisite: Must be a major or minor in the Department of Visual Art or receive instructor permission. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H)

PHIL 140 Philosophy – Introduction to Philosophy

Pop quiz! This should be easy:

  1. What does it mean to live a good life?
  2. What does a just society look like?
  3. How do you know what you know?
  4. Are we free? How do you know?
    Okay, maybe it isn’t so easy… Get a dose of wisdom this Spring in Introduction to Philosophy, and explore ideas and questions that major philosophers have grappled with throughout history.

An introductory examination, based primarily on writings of major philosophers, of such central philosophical problems as religious belief, the mind and its place in nature, freedom and determinism, morality, and the nature and kinds of human knowledge. Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11) ,  Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H), HR Philosophy & Religion PC (HR)

ENGL 209 English – Introduction to Fiction

Being able to tell a story effectively comes in handy in any career. Learn about the techniques involved in creating a compelling narrative by exploring works from some of the great masters of prose fiction in the English language in Intro to Fiction.

In-depth reading of and writing about prose fiction with emphasis on critical analysis of a variety of narrative types from different historical periods. Prerequisite: Completion of ENGL 101 and ENGL 102, or their equivalent. Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), Goal 2 Outcome 1 (GE21), Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H)

GEOG 102 Geography – People, Place, and Society

It’s no secret that the impact of the human species on the natural world has been profound. For a better understanding of the complex relationship between humans, our activities and social systems, and the environments we live in, check out People, Place, and Society.

An examination of the relationships between humans and their environments. The course introduces students to basic concepts in human geography relating to economic activities, landscapes, languages, migrations, nations, regions, and religions. Serves as the basis for further course work in cultural, economic, political, population, and urban geography. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42), Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S), S Social Science (S), SC Culture & Society PC (SC)

HA 261 History of Art – Introduction to Modern Art

Whether you’re inspired or perplexed by it, there’s no denying that modern art provokes strong emotional responses from audiences. But what social, political, and scientific movements led to the birth of what we call modern art? What ideas and motivations drove artists to create works associated with the movement, and how did those works reflect artists’ place in the modern world? Find out in Introduction to Modern Art.

This course considers the efforts of artists to explore and represent their place in the modern world. The political, industrial, and scientific revolutions of the late 18th and 19th centuries in the West overturned the certainties of traditional authority and liberated artists to raise new questions. Innovations ranged from Impressionism’s light-filled landscapes to Surrealism’s dream imagery, Abstract Expressionism’s paint-spattered canvases, and Pop Art’s celebration of consumer culture. This course addresses these and other modern art movements, emphasizing developments in Europe and the United States through the late 20th century and concluding with international contemporary art in an age of globalization. Intended for non-majors. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H), HT Historical Studies PC (HT)

POLS 150 Political Science – Introduction to Comparative Politics

If you’re alive in 2019, you’ve probably noticed that people have a lot of opinions when it comes to politics. For a better understanding of the various political systems that societies have been governed by, the components that make up those systems, and how political structures change over time, check out Introduction to Comparative Politics.

An introduction to the comparative study of political systems emphasizing governmental structures, parties, electoral techniques, and recent trends in the field. The course also considers major differences between (1) representative and autocratic systems, and (2) developed and underdeveloped nations. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42), Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S),  S Social Science (S), SF Public Affairs PC (SF)

REES 110 Russian & East European Studies – Understanding Russia & East Europe

Understanding Russia and Eastern Europe is a bit like, well, a Russian Doll: there are multiple layers that one needs to grasp. Luckily, Understanding Russia & East Europe will introduce you to a variety of the region’s fascinating and complex issues, from history and politics to languages, ethnicities, and religions, through a mix of movies and readings.

A multidisciplinary introduction to Russia and Eastern Europe. The course explores the geography, history, and politics of this complex region, as well as the diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions. A special focus of the course is the current socio-political situation in Russia and Eastern Europe in the context of the fall of communism nearly 30 years ago and the ongoing post-communist transition. Students in the course watch one feature film from Russia or Eastern Europe per week as a visual representation of issues discussed via scholarly articles and chapters, newspaper articles and news clips, video lectures, documentary and animated films, music videos, and literature. This course is offered at the 100 and 300 level with additional assignments at the 300 Level. Not open to students with credit in REES 310. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42), H Humanities (H), SC Culture & Society PC (SC), World Culture (W)

AAAS 105 African & African-American Studies – Introduction to African History

Are you curious about people, places, and day to day life around the world? Take a class that will expand your knowledge of other cultures and people across the globe! In Introduction to African History, you’ll gain a better understanding of contemporary societies in Africa through the continent’s history, religion, arts, langues, and more.

An introduction to the interdisciplinary study of African cultures and societies focusing on contemporary life on the continent. Topics to be covered include the geography, history, politics, and economics of the continent, as well as the religion, languages and literatures, music, and the arts. The interdisciplinary perspective will provide students with a sound basis for understanding contemporary African societies. Satisfies: Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S), NW Non-Western Culture (NW), S Social Science (S), SC Culture & Society PC (SC), World Culture (W)

THR 106 Theatre – Acting I

Whether you plan to take the stage in a Shakespearean production, have dreams of seeing yourself on the silver screen, or just want to try out something new, Acting I is sure to bring a boost of creative energy to your semester. In this introductory course, you’ll test and improve your acting chops and get tips on body language, character creation, and speech techniques.

Fundamental techniques in acting. Practice in character creation, body language, and effective stage speech. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H), HL Literature & the Arts PC (HL)

WGSS 333 Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies – Politics of Physical Appearance

Pale versus tanned, thin versus curvy, long locks of hair versus bob cut. From hairstyle and fashion to skin tone and body type, societies’ standards of beauty for women are constantly changing. In Politics of Physical Appearance, you’ll look past surface appearances to examine ways that standards of attractiveness have evolved over time, and the social and political impact of these shifting ideals.

An interdisciplinary analysis of standards of physical attractiveness and cultural conceptions of women’s bodies. Includes analysis of how these standards change across time and cultural groups, and of the impact of these standards on women as individuals and on social and political outcomes. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41), Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), S Social Science (S)

SLAV 320 Slavic Language and Literature – Graphic Novels as Memory: Representations of the Holocaust and Communism

Most of us are familiar with memoirs and novels that deal with war, political movements, and tragedies of history like the Holocaust, but graphic novels exploring similar themes are often overlooked. In Graphic Novels as Memory, you’ll discover the relationship between graphic novels and memory of the Holocaust and communism.

This course examines the connection between graphic novels and memory as an approach to critical reading and writing about literary works. This is a writing instructive and writing intensive course designed to expand student knowledge about the relationship between genres, audiences and contexts. Satisfies: Goal 2 Outcome 1 (GE21), H Humanities (H)

Note: These classes are offered across all semesters. Check out the schedule of classes to see what’s available in upcoming semesters.

Marissa Duckett bridges natural and social sciences

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 08:33

“Remember what you’re here for.” It’s a simple reminder that can have a major impact. For KU senior Marissa Duckett, that means pushing herself daily to study the relationship between the environment and human health to better understand health disparities that exist in black, brown, and queer communities. In her research in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, she’s seeking to complicate traditional notions of health by considering not just the human body, but also environmental factors that affect the global microbiome, to address those disparities.

Learn about Marissa’s research, which bridges natural and social sciences, her public health service experiences abroad, and the KU mentors and organizations that provided a support network on her journey to becoming the scientist she is today.

What are your research interests and why did you choose them? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

I am interested in the environment and how human health relates to environmental conditions especially in the spread of infectious diseases. I liked infectious diseases coming into college but freshman year I took Environmental Ethics with Alex Boynton and that was when I knew I needed to tie in the environment with whatever I did. I was under the impression microbiology was anthropocentric. Last year, I found Dr. Jennifer Roberts in the Department of Geology and absolutely loved her take on microbiology and realized microbiology could be environmental; I jumped into her lab immediately. Microbiology is a broad and versatile field of study, and I’ve been intrigued and appropriately challenged with my coursework all three years.

What is one thing you think everyone should know about your research project or research interests? This might be a commonly held belief that your research questions or complicates.

I think my research complicates the definition of health. Our bodies are the center of our individual health, but environmental factors affect your body and the global microbiome, so there’s way more to consider in human health than has been traditionally thought.

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?

It takes a village, but I’ll keep it short, otherwise I’d write a book. Lindsey Deaver, Mulu Lemma, Dr. Simone Savannah, Ed Healy, and Dr. Justin Blumenstiel among several others have helped me so much.

What is the most valuable experience you have had while studying at KU?

The Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP) helped me adjust to living out of state and provided me with several resources that shaped the scientist and student I am today. Without the foundation and support I got from MSP I wouldn’t have been involved with all of the organizations I’ve participated in and I probably would have transferred schools. Transferring after my first year was my original plan, but MSP made KU so lovable and resourceful that I had to stay.

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

What I want to research is a bridge between natural science and social science, so it’s very beneficial to talk diversity with my humanities friends. It’s a great way to identify the needs of black, brown, and queer communities and strategize viable initiatives in those communities for both disciplines.

Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any other learning experiences you’d like to share?

During summer 2017, I led a Global Brigades public health service trip of 14 volunteers to Nicaragua. In summer 2018, I got to conduct epidemiological research and volunteer in underserved communities through Louisiana State University in New Orleans. And during summer 2019, I got to conduct field research with Dr. Jennifer Roberts and Bryan Rodriguez-Colón in Puerto Rico for my microbial geochemical research at KU. Over the summer, I also interned with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston studying gonorrhea.

I’ve done a lot with my time at KU and I’m grateful for all the programs I’m in. I wouldn’t be the same person or scientist without these experiences or the programs (Multicultural Scholars Program, McNair, Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) that helped me get accepted into these research experiences.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Don’t let a single class determine your ability to complete your major. Also READ THE BOOK!

What do you plan to do after you graduate from KU?

I am currently applying to Ph.D. programs in environmental health sciences, toxicology, and public health sciences across the country. Where I’ll be in a year is anyone’s guess.

What motivates you?

When I’m super stressed I tell myself “remember what you’re here for.” It’s pretty applicable for everything, but at the end of the day it is a reminder. I need to build the skills and education to put me in a place where I can alleviate heath disparities in black and brown communities.

Be like Marissa. For more information, explore the Department of Molecular Biosciences, the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP), the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program, and the Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP) at the University of Kansas.

Unwinding with Jennifer Delgado: Astrophysicist

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 10:29

If you spent any time on social media this summer, you probably heard that United States government agencies confirmed the existence of video footage of UFOs taken by military aircraft. The videos reignited speculation about the presence of alien life visiting Earth.

In an effort to bring some context to these discussions, we sat down with Associate Teaching Professor Jennifer Delgado from the KU Department of Physics & Astronomy to talk the expansiveness of space, searching for habitable planets outside out own solar system, and how anyone can contribute to new discoveries at KU.

After our chat, Professor Delgado wanted to add a bit more clarification to some of the information she provided:

  1. We have directly imaged a few exoplanets in the sense that we have images where we can distinguish the light from a planet in an image, but we do not have the ability to see the surface of the planet, like we would see a picture of a planet in our own Solar System.
  2. Pulsars emit x-rays if they are accreting matter, meaning that if matter falls onto the pulsar, then it can emit x-rays. This is not typical of pulsars unless they are in a binary system and have a companion star from which to obtain matter.  

Additionally, Professor Delgado provided a link to a more in-depth explanation of dark energy.

In this podcast we also briefly touched on a discovery by Assistant Professor Allison Kirkpatrick. Learn more about her discovery of cold quasars here.

Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. The conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.

Unwinding is a production by KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.

Music: Lee Rosevere’s “Let’s Start at the Beginning and “Max Flashback

Mitch Lightfoot

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 16:02

Student athlete. Kansas Jayhawk. Econ major. With hometown roots in Kansas City, Missouri, senior Mitch Lightfoot was a KU fan long before he began his career on the court. It was only natural, then, that he would pursue his passion for basketball at the University of Kansas as part of Bill Self’s team. And as an economics major in the College, with a business minor, he discovered opportunities to challenge himself outside of Allen Fieldhouse as well. 

Learn what Mitch had to say about exploring new ideas and building flexible skills for a variety of career paths in the Heart of KU, tips for success, his favorite KU memory (spoiler: it might involve the Final Four), and, whether in the classroom or on the court, the value of living life without “what ifs.”

Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?

I’m from Kansas City, Missouri, and I moved to Arizona when I was 5 years old. I’ve always been a KU fan, and my family are KU fans. We’re kind of KU die-hards, and that’s why I went to KU.

Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

Why did you choose your major?

I chose my major because I felt it was flexible and would allow me to pursue multiple professions when I get out of college and when I’m done with my career as an athlete.I wouldn’t say there was a single moment when I decided what to study. It was more of a culmination of things and realizing, in talking to people, that economics is something that I could use in more than one aspect of my life.

What is the most exciting part of your major and minor?

I would say getting to meet people from a bunch of different backgrounds is the most exciting part, whether it’s people in my classes or teachers. It allows me to interact with people that I might not get to interact with on a daily basis.

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

Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics (left) and KU Marketing Communications (right).

You get to meet students that you wouldn’t in other areas in life. In the College, you’re exposed to diversity and get to see how other people think, bounce ideas off of others, and understand their ideas and interests.

How has being a student athlete shaped your experiences at KU?

Being a student athlete has shaped my experience at KU by allowing me to gain both an academic and athletic perspective. I get to meet people in the classroom, teachers and professors, and as a student athlete I get to meet other student athletes from across the nation and across the globe, and I get to learn from them and gain an understanding of their lives and perspectives.

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?

My shout-out goes to Dr. Scott Ward, “Scooter”, who was one of my academic advisors. He’s done a great job and helped shape my time here at KU. He helped me become a bigger person, and I really appreciate him

What’s your best KU memory?

Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

My best KU memory would probably be going to the Final Four. It was an experience unlike any other.

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

I like being pushed in class, but I also like classes where it’s more of a group learning environment, where you meet with peers in the class and go over stuff with them in order for you to truly understand the topic. I enjoy classes where teaching from the instructor is important, but where students also help each other. That’s something that’s special about Economics classes at KU.

What would you tell your freshman self?

I would say don’t be afraid to slow down. Relax, take your time, and enjoy it. It’s fun. Freshman year is a time of getting to learn with everybody, and learn what going to college is like. And also I would say, don’t worry too much about figuring out your major in the first year. It’ll come to you and you can take your time.

Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

What do you want to do when you graduate?               

When I graduate, I want to play basketball for as long as I can, which will most likely be overseas. Then when I get done with that, I want to use the connections I’ve made here at KU to get into the professional world.

What motivates you?

Since the earliest I can remember, my motivation has been trying to get the most out of the talents I’ve been given. Whether in the classroom or on the court, I don’t want to live with “what ifs.” I want to get the most out of every situation, and that’s what I base things on.

Photos courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

Be like Mitch. Explore new ideas, and enjoy the moment. For more information, explore the Department of Economics, the School of Business, and KU Athletics at the University of Kansas.

Hawks to Watch: Carlos Centeno

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 15:26

Why Carlos is a Hawk to Watch:

When disaster strikes, we count on rapid responses, and carefully reasoned plans, from those with the experience, expertise and steady-handedness to get right to the heart of the matter during high-stress scenarios.

From climate change and weather emergencies to food scarcity and financial inequality, the most complex and consequential issues facing the modern world demand both prompt action and increasingly advanced, data-driven solutions. A tall order perhaps, but Carlos Centeno, whose accomplishments include emergency ops, tech startup coaching, artificial intelligence, and — of course — a KU degree, has always been up for a challenge.

Although statistics, mechanics, and numerical analyses figure heavily into his daily tasks, it’s the outcomes and human implications of his work, first and foremost, that drive Carlos’ efforts. At the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), he provided humanitarian aid by helping the organization feed almost 90 million people in 83 countries each year, serving in refugee camps, tribal areas, and migrant crisis settings across the globe. Now at MIT Solve in Cambridge, Massachusettes, he’s leading efforts to bring together leaders in academia, private and public sectors, and non-profits to explore innovative tech solutions that spark major change in communities on a global scale.

Meet Carlos, our September Hawk to Watch. Learn how skills he developed in KU’s journalism and global & international studies programs have transferred into his multifaceted career, and discover how he’s bringing his curiosity about people and their stories to his work today.

Tell us in a few sentences what you do for a living: 

For 8 years I designed and managed projects in areas prone to natural disasters, where we worked with communities and governments to plan preparedness and recovery activities. I also worked in a few emergency operations. Now I work at MIT Solve, where I lead the economic prosperity community, engaging leaders in tech, non-profits, academia to support solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.  

MIT Solve is an initiative of the President of MIT that advances lasting solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address the world’s most pressing problems. Solve is a marketplace for social impact: we find tech entrepreneurs from around the world and broker partnerships across our community to scale their innovative work—driving lasting, transformational change.

How did you end up doing what you do? Was there a certain moment when things came together? Or was it a longer journey

I started as an idealist, thinking that I should do what I love. I learned that this is a good driver for anyone because few of us know what we want when we are fresh out of college. We may think we know what we want but it’s not until you try it out and give it a serious go that you stick to it as something you love.

I always had this fascination growing up in Caracas, looking up at the middle class and poor class neighborhood buildings, when mom or dad would drive us home from school, and thinking, “What is that family doing right now? Are they fighting? Do they have enough money? Are they laughing and cooking?” I think that’s where that curiosity that is the ultimate expression of journalism was sparked. But I went from that passion for journalism into a different kind of career: I backpacked throughout South America with the money I saved Djing at bars in Lawrence, to understand what I wanted to do with my degree. I wanted to be in remote places, talking to people who were not as present in the media. 

I was interested in the roots of violence, and I was interested in music. But after my trip I realized I wanted to do things other people wrote about, not write about them.I think there was a lot to be done and I didn’t think I could get my hands dirty quickly enough through reporting. I love writing and have a huge respect for photojournalists like Jim Nachtwey, Abbas, Larrain, Salgado, Paolo Pellegrin and the whole Magnum crew. I’ll never drop the idea of writing for a publication, and in fact in my new position I might get to publish next year.

In the end, I settled on working in the humanitarian field. There’s a wonderful quote by Howard Thurman, who influenced MLK a lot. It set me at ease with my work at the United Nations (UN), because as a junior officer you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, because there’s no humanitarian school (despite what some schools offer): “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

What made me come alive was listening to stories that few people heard and telling those stories(This is when I was in the highlands of Ethiopia for example, with farmers who had lived here for 10 generations). It just happened to be a different format than journalism, and I think, very rewarding. Talking to communities and staying in those areas for months to figure out their needs, like a reporter, and then being able to get all the pieces in place to run a massive program to address those needs is everything I didn’t know that I wanted and it was the perfect combo of J-School and GIST.

MIT Solve was a natural transition for me. I was looking at other ways of solving the challenges we identified with communities every time we spent weeks planning with them and their governments and it was not only hard to solve comprehensive issues with UN-specific mandates but also without that capacity to try things that the UN had never tried before. While the World Food Programme (WFP) is doing a great job with their Accelerator, it takes the grit and resilience of small startups to prove how something can be done differently to gradually change the outlook of whole communities. I’ve seen a few people accomplish this at the UN and it has been exceptional when it’s done and usually involves going outside what’s expected or working with unexpected organizations. 

I wanted to be in a dynamic environment where people with ideas could get the support needed to take them to scale, and part of that is being at MIT. It’s a wonderful place to create. So I’m excited to not only do that at Solve but also next year as a Visiting Fellow at MIT Sloan School of Business researching the intersection of tech and fragile contexts like migrant paths, refugee camps etc. 

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far? 

That’s a tough one. I always think of achievements as something I did with somebody else. One of those was reinventing the way a massive organization like WFP did project design to focus on fixing chronic issues, engaging communities directly and focusing on livelihoods through satellite imagery, data analysis, community planning and a bit of anthropological work. 

WFP has come a long way from the days of sending food to address a hunger crisis. We worked on guidance for years and tested it out with several divisions in-house and in remote rural communities. It was the first time I was part of something so comprehensive with such a brilliant team of humanitarian legends.By the time I left that unit we had received a $1 million in grants to spread the methodology. My prototype project ALIA, even as I work at MIT now, is the natural progression of this achievement, automating these processes for emergencies so the humanitarian community can support a quicker, better informed response. The teams that worked on the guidance pre-tech are now working on this with a lot of enthusiasm.

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

I prepared with a team of 25 brilliant humanitarian responders for a humanitarian crisis that I cannot name. We worked on many scenarios 7:00 AM to midnight, including weekends for two months. In the end, we were not able to enter the country and a lot of people are still suffering. It pains me to this day and I feel like I let everyone down. I mean that; I was in communication with people inside and they had huge hopes that we would enter. 

I’m usually good at moving on, but this one is still fresh. I left the UN after this and still think about what I can do from my current position to get us closer to a resolution. I guess I moved on by remaining alert about opportunities to help. But every mission leaves a scar and it’s not good or bad, it’s just a scar. 

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

From a personal and professional standpoint, after moving around and being so unstable for the past 10 years, I want the next 10 years to be about building long-term. I see myself building my own organization and I’m in no rush. There’s an epidemic of startups nowadays and I want to acquire the skills and the network necessary to build something that addresses a social need through a scalable model.More than anything I have fun building things that solve problems and I love doing it with dynamic people. I know a bunch of those aching to move into something like this in the future, so I hope I can count on them even if they don’t know it yet!

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

  1. Take your time in college to learn in your classes and even take the least amount of classes per semester as a full time student so you can dedicate the rest of your time to extra-curricular activities or traveling abroad or even inside your state, getting to really know your communities. I did some of this but always had this obsession with finishing early. College should be a time to prepare yourself, not a step towards something. Nothing’s waiting for you after you climb down that hill during graduation, unless you’ve built up enough experience outside of the classroom.
  2. Don’t worry about choosing the right major, worry about choosing the right environment to learnand, yeah, it helps if your major is something you like and is something you can grow with (that you can continue to learn because it’s an evolving space). Also, don’t limit yourself to just what you know.In the J-School, they asked us to have a minor or several electives. I think this is great advice. If you like economics, take a minor in engineering, or law. If you like art, take a minor in education. Those who cross boundaries are more likely to find or create work.And the worst thing that can happen is you met different people than you’re comfortable with.
  3. It’s important to do well in your classes but what will really set you apart is what you do outside of class: journalism club, working for the radio station, study abroad trips. Everybody can get As in school with enough work, not everybody can lead or create extracurricular organizations.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Thisisthe time to make them and make as many as possible, so you don’t make them later.
  5. Don’t lose sight of your roots and your family. College can go by in a flash and your family time with it and then you’re off to who knows where. Make time every year for family and be fully in the moment. College will still be there when you go back.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Carve yourself a role within the organization, one that is not in your job description, and become the go-to person for something.It will give you responsibility because only you will be responsible if that one thing fails, and it makes you unique. Because of my journalism background, I was the go-to person for editing reports at my first UN gig. That meant everything that we proposed to the world went through my desk, a junior officer’s desk. That also meant I learned every statistic, name, terminology, enough to sound knowledgeable and to start supporting the director in meetings.

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

It’s shocking how much I’ve used from my days at KU,because at KU I didn’t plan on joining the UN for humanitarian response work. A good writer, researcher, and analyst is always in demand, in any job.And while nobody cares if you say that during an interview, it will come in so handy that people will rely on you later. I can’t count the times I referenced my editing class for emergency situation reports. If you got one number wrong, 2,000 people might go to bed hungry during the emergency or you’d deliver too much salt (I made that mistake in the last emergency but caught it just in time before we sent several extra lorries of salt).

Interviewing, getting at the truth, translating number-heavy content into digestible policy memos, working long nights under pressure. These all sound like a reporter’s regular skillset but I used all of these on all my missions with the UN to support people in need. At GIST I learned to develop long papers, which is a lot of the work at the UN. I wrote at least 15 reports, more than a dozen pages long, collaborating, interviewing, coordinating data gathering. All the things I learned to do on various topics at GIST. 

Finally, skimming. The glorious art of skimming through 200 pages of text that GIST drills in you so well because that’s the only way to get through several academic papers per week. At the UN I reviewed about 100 pages of information per week, some of it within minutes of a teleconference. It’s a skill you should never underestimate. Information is gold and the people who can transact the quickest with that gold are incredibly valuable. 

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Back in the UN days I’d go out to eat with friends from the humanitarian community (we were a tight group anywhere you landed) or I’d go read somewhere. We were constantly on missions everywhere so when all the friends/colleagues would be in the same city we’d party until karaoke late in the morning or whatever that city offered. It was really a family. Now, at MIT, I cycle to the river and hang my hammock and read until the sun sets or just cycle somewhere new far from work. I think I’m digging solitude a lot more after so much interaction.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I’ve been DJing now for 17 years thanks to KJHK. I’ve DJd in some unexpected places because I always bring my little mixer when I’m deployed for a long time.I did a party in a parking lot, a month after a Category 5 hurricane ripped through the Philippines. We were all exhausted and the first wave of responders was leaving so we went all out. We a great dance party with fried chicken. 

I had a DJ residence in Guatemala, one in Rome in a little art gallery, and in Asia I got to DJ in some wonderful places. I love seeing people’s reactions to very different music that they’re not used to hearing. 

Be like Carlos. Carve out a unique role for yourself. For more information, visit the Center for Global & International Studies, the William Allen While School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and KJHK at the University of Kansas. Also, explore Solve at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the United Nations (UN).

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. 

Rachel Smith meets the beetles (of South America)

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 11:46

Rachel Smith is a big fan of the beetles. Water beetles, to be exact. As a biology major with an emphasis on ecology, evolution, and organismal biology, Rachel spends her days working alongside fellow KU entomologists on all things related to insect biodiversity and ecology. So when she learned about a study abroad program that would allow her to study local water beetles and discover new species in Suriname, the smallest country in South America, she seized on the opportunity.

Learn how Rachel’s hands-on research in Suriname allowed her to bring her sense of curiosity to scientific fieldwork and solidified her plans for the future.

Why did you choose your major?

I’ve always been interested in natural sciences, but my interest in Entomology actually started when I began making and selling entomological art pieces, which progressed to a scientific interest, leading me to my major of study.

Where did you study abroad?

I studied in Suriname, the smallest country in South America.

Why did you choose to study abroad? 

I wanted to gain experience in my future field of study/career. My time in Suriname was a biodiversity assessment expedition, where we were looking to do a survey of the area we were in to document localities for known species of water beetle and discover new ones. For me personally, it was my first experience in biological fieldwork so I learned a lot about biodiversity, field sampling methods and the value of working with local collaborators! It definitely solidified the idea in my mind that it is something I want to pursue and I hope to continue with biological fieldwork centered on insect-related biodiversity and ecology in grad school!

What was your favorite part of studying abroad? 

Aside from the friends and connections I made with both my Surinamese and KU peers, gaining experience in what will hopefully be my career someday was absolutely invaluable!

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

I have made valuable connections in a country I hope to return to someday. I also gained valuable knowledge of how intense but rewarding field biology is, which will help me in my next expedition!

How did you find out about this study abroad opportunity?

My advisor recommended I go on this study abroad trip as a member of his lab and to gain experience.

What advice would you give students who are considering studying abroad?

I would advise students who are about to study abroad to learn a little of the spoken language(s) wherever you are going. Also, pack lots of socks!

Give a shout-out to someone to a prof, advisor or someone else who has been influential during your time at KU:

I am very grateful to my current advisor, Dr. Andrew Short, who has taught me an incredible amount about biodiversity, entomology, biological fieldwork, and given me the opportunity to do research in his lab!

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

I like that there are opportunities for any major to do research on a project that they are interested in, and are encouraged to do so!

What do you plan to do after graduating?

I plan to attend graduate school either in the U.S., or abroad for entomology or ecology.

What motivates you?

I have always been very curious and love learning, so any opportunity to learn something new motivates me every day.

Be like Rachel. Seize on opportunities to learn in new ways, and in new places. For more information, explore the Undergraduate Biology Program and the office of Study Abroad & Global Engagement at the University of Kansas.

Alex Murray & Elizabeth Sundahl: For the love of bees

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 11:43

You’ve probably heard about the recent boost in popularity for the KU Beekeeping Club (KUBC), who signed up nearly 300 Jayhawks at this fall’s Hawkfest and Unionfest alone. Not only is the club experiencing rapid growth in membership; they’ve also found success as a small business, making use of their members’ wide-ranging talents to sell everything from honey and lip-balm to stickers and t-shirts.

So what’s driving all the buzz? To find out, we asked KU seniors Alex Murray, co-founder and president, and Elizabeth Sundahl, co-founder and club treasurer. Discover how Alex, a double-major in environmental studies and finance, and Elizabeth, who is double-majoring in economics and visual art, are bringing their creative energy and academic interests to the KUBC to better the environment, connect Jayhawks across disciplines, and build community around beekeeping.

Photo by Meg Kumin, photographer at KU Marketing Communications.

Why did you choose your majors? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study?

Alex: I entered into KU knowing that I wanted to ultimately combine my passion for issues I cared about with a background to enable myself to create the kind of change I wanted to see. I began with studying finance to develop a useful skill-set that could be used in a multitude of fields and sectors. At the time, I was pursuing environmental studies as a minor to gain more knowledge about climate change outside of my involvement with numerous other sustainability-focused organizations. After receiving a few additional scholarships, I ultimately decided to pursue environmental studies full-time to fully dive into both worlds. I firmly believe that my experience in a multi-disciplinary undergrad program changed the game for me at KU. I continue to feel far more connected to the entirety of campus and I’ve been able pursue some fascinating experiences I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, like the KU Beekeeping Club. The ability to listen and learn with a variety of perspectives is, in my opinion, the only way to truly develop your own knowledge and opinion on an issue and I would strongly recommend such a path to anyone.

Photos by Meg Kumin (left) and Jed Shaffer (right).

Elizabeth: It took me a while to figure out what exactly I wanted to study at KU. I took a variety of classes my first two years here and then finally declared a major at the end of my Sophomore year. Making art has always been an integral part of my life, and I definitely did not want to halt my art education in college. However, I also wanted to earn a degree in another area of study in case I wanted to apply my art education in a way other than making art my primary profession. An economics class I took my first semester of my freshman year interested me enough to take another economics class, then another, and another. Although the dual major in economics and visual art is an unusual combination, it really works for me as a student. I value the opportunity I have to engage in both analytical and creative problem-solving every day thanks to my unique double major.

Photo by Meg Kumin.

What’s your role in the KU Beekeeping Club, and how did you get involved? What sparked your interest in beekeeping?

Alex: I helped found the KU Beekeeping Club and currently serve as president. I began beekeeping after returning home to my family’s new home in Lawrence, Kansas, after I spent a few months in New York City and Hong Kong. Upon introducing myself to some of our new neighbors, I learned that they kept bees and I asked if I could join them sometime with Elizabeth and Joe (our other co-founder). Soon enough, almost all of us became hooked. They became incredibly gracious and wonderful mentors to Elizabeth, Joe, and me and allowed us to gain experiential knowledge before tackling our own hives, which isn’t something most people get to do. As we progressed in learning how to become real beekeepers, tons of our friends reached out to us and asked to accompany us to our hives. We realized that we had enough organic interest to start the KUBC and the rest is history. At this point, we have over eighty people involved with us in some shape or form and continue to grow without any significant formal recruiting or advertising. I’m continually blown away by the support we receive from our fellow Jayhawks.

Elizabeth: Bees have been an interest of mine since high school, and they have always been the subject of a lot of my artwork. There was a UDK article written about my bee and nature inspired artwork last year, and Alex saw the article before we met. When he got involved with his neighbor’s hives, he took me with him for a hive inspection. I was hooked during that hive inspection, and since getting to see that hive, bees have been a more important part of my life than I could have ever expected. As a result of the passion sparked during that hive inspection, I helped Alex and Joe found the KU Beekeeping Club and established myself as the treasurer, I have assisted Alex with educational presentations about bees and their impact on our environment, and I have been making even more bee inspired art.

How do you apply lessons or skills you’ve gained in your majors to your work in the KU Beekeeping Club?

Alex: This summer we saw an explosion of activity within our hives and from our support. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been able to harvest an amazing amount of honey within our first year and pretty quickly we began processing and selling it as a fundraiser. Soon we added lip balm, stickers, t-shirts, and more. I think we sold through mostly everything within a few days of posting about it through word of mouth alone. Tracking and completing all of these orders became a small business for all of us, and the accounting, finance, and economics majors we have across our founders became highly useful in making our club run smoothly.

Photos by Jed Shaffer.

Of course, the entire other side of our majors took the KUBC to the next level. My connections and insights from the environmental studies department helped us land a faculty sponsor, the location of our hives, and vastly grow our membership. Maybe more importantly, I think the KUBC provides all of us amazing opportunities to apply the lessons and issues we learn about in the classroom to a real-world setting that we dearly care about. Like I said earlier, there would be no way I could’ve done something like this without both majors working in sync.

Elizabeth: One of my favorite applications of my visual arts major in the context of the beekeeping club was when we painted our hives. We painted three different Jayhawks on the red, yellow, and blue hives and I think they really stand out in pictures that we use to promote the club. It is nice to know that the knowledge and skills I gained in my art classes can draw attention to the club, benefit the bees, and as a result, better my community. My economics background has helped with the business side of our club. I have been able to use my training in economics to market and sell honey, lip balm, and other club merchandise.

Photo by Meg Kumin.

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?

Alex: Oh man – there are plenty. Jennifer Moody, Kelly Kindscher, Jim Guthrie, Deb Smith, and many more have helped lift our club off the ground and help promote our cause. Meg Kumin also produced some fabulous shots of us at launch and helped document our beginning. We genuinely could not have done this without their help. I should also mention John Hedeman, Jennifer Harrison, Anne Wallen, and Uma Outka as a few of many amazing mentors who have been enormously instrumental in helping me realize my potential at KU.

Elizabeth: There have been so many people at KU who have helped us get to where we are as a club. I really appreciate Michael McCaffrey, Norman Akers, and David Slusky because they helped me build my confidence and begin to appreciate my own interests.

Photos by Meg Kumin.

Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any service learning experiences you’d like to share?

I’ve done all of the above which makes this an impossible choice! I’ve held numerous internships from the non-profit, financial, and political sides of the world and made some amazing friends and connections throughout them all. I think internships are super important to answer the question of “what if?” in your life and determining if a prospective career path is the right fit for you. My favorite was probably the chance to intern for a non-profit in New York City. As far as studying abroad goes, I strongly recommend studying somewhere completely new to you both from a geographic and cultural standpoint. I ended up in Hong Kong and fell deeply in love with Southeast Asia. The chance to study at a world-class university like Hong Kong University was something that I never imagined as a freshman, and as intimidating as it seemed, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience.

Photo by Jed Shaffer.

Lastly, I would be remiss to not give a HUGE shout out to Alternative Breaks KU. The service-learning opportunities they provide gave me some of my best friends and memories at this school and allowed me to see parts of the United States and do things I never would’ve otherwise – including accidentally Frenching a wild wolf. I’ve completed three trips during my undergrad and worked at a wolf conservation in Colorado, an LGBTQIA+ youth center in Wisconsin and an urban farm in New Orleans. There’s no way I could recommend these programs enough.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Alex: Buckle up! I had no dream of being as involved as I got at KU, and I feel like I’ve grown immeasurably as a person because of it. I’m really glad that I rarely turned anything down, although sometimes I wonder what life would be like with a little less on my plate. I’m mostly kidding.

Elizabeth: Branch out! I wish I had done a lot more at the beginning of my time in college. I was kind of intimidated by how much there was to get involved with and do on campus. The clubs and activities I’m involved with are what I have loved most about my college experience. Obviously, the beekeeping club was not around when I was a freshman, but I could’ve started making more connections to where I am now if I had branched out more.

Photo by Meg Kumin.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

Alex: Currently I’m pursuing a few nominations by KU to apply for the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell scholarships. Pending those applications, I would either transition to graduate school in Europe or begin working full-time, preferably in the renewable energy sector. Immediately after graduating, however, I’d really like to hike through the Pacific Crest Trail.

Elizabeth: Immediately after graduating I am planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for a few months. After that, I am still unsure if I want to start working or attend grad school.

Photo by Jed Shaffer.

What motivates you?

Alex: Trying anything new and feeling as uncomfortable as I can as often as possible. I think there are so many opportunities people rule out for themselves simply because it’s something foreign to them; in the end, the things I trusted myself the least in doing became some of the best experiences of my life. I hope to help make those possibilities more accessible to anyone at KU, in my community, and hopefully wherever I go. I’m also motivated by making people understand how insanely cool bees are.

Elizabeth: The people in my life are my biggest motivators. My family has always gone out of their way to support me in my endeavors. Whether it’s sharing my art on their social media or buying tons of the KU Beekeeping honey and merchandise, they are always cheering me on. Alex is also a huge motivator and has helped me become the beekeeper I am today. Without him, I would not have had the opportunity to gain knowledge of and experience with bees. My involvement with the KU Beekeeping Club is what I am most proud of in my time in college, and I am thankful to Alex, my family, and the beekeeping community in Lawrence for their support.

Be like Alex and Elizabeth. Branch out and pursue your passions at KU. For more information, explore the KU Beekeeping Club, the Environmental Studies Program, the School of Business, the Department of Visual Art, and the Department of Economics at the University of Kansas.

Habitat: Go behind the scenes of visual art

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 15:38

Comprising five stories and 130,000 sq. ft. of space, Chalmers Hall provides the perfect home for visual art students to create and learn. See where students get hands on learning in everything from painting and drawing to textiles and fibers.

Monica Martinez: Leaving a Jayhawk legacy to be proud of

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 10:55

For Monica Martinez, a Kansas native raised in Topeka and born on Kansas Day, the decision to carve out a unique path in her home state at KU felt entirely appropriate. And as a Jayhawk in the College, she found ample opportunity to immerse herself in the subjects she cares most about: American social issues, Latinx identity, and access and equity in higher ed. Now having recently graduated, she’s continuing to explore her passions by pursuing a Master’s in Student Affairs and working with TRIO Student Support Services at Iowa State University.

Meet Monica, a Class of 2019 graduate. Discover how she found her fit in the College, learn about the KU mentors, programs, classes, and internships that helped her in achieving her goals, and see what advice she has for leaving a legacy to be proud of on The Hill.

Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?

I am originally from Topeka, Kansas but I decided to come to KU for a few different reasons. KU’s Spanish department was the best out of all the schools I had applied to, and I had more opportunities to engage in studies that met my interests. I also wanted to be close to my family, and KU allowed me to be 30 minutes away from them. I was born and raised a Jayhawk, and I was even born on Kansas Day, so I feel like it was fate that I ended up at KU.

Why did you choose your major and minor? And how do they complement each other? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

I changed my major a couple different times, but I decided to study American Studies because I really enjoy the social justice frameworks that American Studies promotes, as well as the opportunity to choose an emphasis that meets my research interests. I found American studies to be very interdisciplinary because I was able to engage in a lot of great classes inside and outside of my department that challenged my ways of thought about greater American social issues.

I think the moment I decided to switch my major to American Studies happened during my freshman year as a result of my AMS 260 America’s Latinos/as class. I really enjoyed this class and the instructor, and decided that I wanted to focus my studies on issues facing Latinx individuals in the United States. My journey through my major has been a very rewarding one and has helped me to critically analyze various aspects of society, and has led me to pursue a graduate degree in higher education and student affairs in hopes to evaluate questions of access and equity within academic institutions for marginalized students.

I always knew I wanted to study Spanish as my minor for personal reasons. Spanish is a big part of my family’s identity, and I wanted to help keep the language alive in my family and eventually pass it down to the next generations in my family, so I decided to study Spanish.

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

Hands down my AMS 260 America’s Latinos/Latinas class was my favorite because we read some of the best books by Latinx authors and it helped me discover my major!

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

I think a major benefit of being in the KU College is the opportunity to select from an endless range of unique, and engaging classes alongside students from all sorts of different departments and areas of interest. I think there is a lot to learn from students who come from different majors than your own and it is an opportunity to branch out and open your mind to new ways of thought and inquiry. The KU College really gives you the opportunity to explore all that your education at KU has to offer, and that is a really cool thing! 

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?

My OMA mentors Emily Gullickson and Mauricio Gomez Montoya — They have encouraged me to set high expectations for myself and have offered some of the best advice about school and life to me. They have also been huge supporters in helping me reach my future career goals.

Dr. Joo Oak Kim is one of the most graceful people I know and she has helped me unlock my academic potential under her guidance. Dr. Marta Caminero-Santangelo has helped me achieve greatness and is always willing to go the extra mile to support me in all that I do.

The McNair Team Mulu Lemma and Simone Savannah are the definition of support and they do all that they can to ensure that my future will be bright. They reveal the true brilliance within their students. 

Tell us about your internship experiences with KU Endowment and the McNair Scholars Program Summer Research Internship (SRI). What were your responsibilities, and what was your favorite part of each of these internships?

My internship experience with KU Endowment was a really great experience that exposed me to the wonderful work of higher education fundraising. I got to learn about all the development work that goes into strengthening relationships with donors and what it looks like to fund a big university like KU. Some of my responsibilities as the Development Intern included going on donor visits, which were always really fun because usually I got to learn about our donors passions about KU over lunch or coffee, I got to travel to KC a lot to shadow Development Officers at the KU Medical Center Endowment office, and I got to conduct a research project about young alumni engagement and present my findings to the Annual Giving team. Endowment really helped me grow as a professional and taught me the importance of building strong relationships with fellow Jayhawks. My favorite part about my internship with KUEA was being able to get away from my desk and really get out there in the community and interact with our donors in a meaningful way!

If I could describe my internship experience with McNair in one word, it would have to be “life-changing.” Through my Summer Research Internship (SRI) I completed an independent research project under my faculty mentor Dr. Caminero-Santangelo about barriers to educational attainment for Latinx student workers in college. I spent most of my summer collecting data through interviews, analyzing my data, and reading research articles for my project. I also spent a lot of time preparing for graduate school during SRI. I took a GRE preparation course, spent time researching graduate school programs across the US, and wrote several drafts of my resume, CV, and personal statements. My internship with McNair taught me how to be a researcher and has provided me with so many useful skills, such as public speaking, time-management, and collaboration-all things that I know I will use in the future. I would have to say seeing my McNair cohort every day was really my favorite part of SRI, they motivated and inspired me to keep moving forward even when times were tough and stress levels were high.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internships? What did you gain from those experiences that will be valuable to you in the future?

A lot of my classes initially exposed me to research and how to compose mini-research projects, and that was really helpful when it came time for me to do a larger scale research project. I didn’t feel completely lost either when it came to doing independent research because my classes had already taught me how to ask research questions and how to find research articles through the library database. One class in particular really helped prepare my for my KUEA internship, Honors 250, which exposed me to the nonprofit sector. We even visited KUEA during one class period to learn about the work they do, and that really motivated me to pursue an internship with them.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

When I graduate I want to pursue a Master’s degree in higher education administration and/or student affairs.

What would you tell your freshman self?

I would tell my freshman self, YES! You belong here and your legacy will be great. I spent a lot of my freshman year selling myself short and I really struggled to find my fit at KU, but I started to meet some really great people that helped me carve my path, and now looking back at my time at KU, I am nothing more than proud of all that I have accomplished over these last four years.

What motivates you?

I think I am most motivated by the opportunities my education will bring me in the future. My education has already changed my life in numerous ways, therefore, I am hopeful for what is to come and the endeavors I will pursue as a result of my degree. I will be the first in my family to get a degree, and just knowing that really motivates me to do the most with my education. I am also motivated to break a cycle in my family, in hopes that my siblings and my nephew will see the positive impacts education can have on some one’s life and one day find that same empowerment I have found through education.

Be like Monica. Carve out your unique path and leave a lasting legacy. For more information, explore the Department of American Studies, The Department of Spanish & Portuguese, the KU Honors Program, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the TRIO McNair Scholars Program, and KU Endowment at the University of Kansas.

Dean’s Message: Priorities as Interim Dean

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 17:36

Welcome to the start of the Fall 2019 semester and a new academic year. Since July 1, when I officially assumed the position of interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, I’ve been working in Strong Hall, getting to know the various divisions of the College office, and getting a more comprehensive picture of everything that the College does for KU.

Even though I’ve spent my entire career of more than 30 years here as a professor of human development and psychology in the College, the learning curve has been pretty steep, and I’ve appreciated the efforts of the College staff in making this transition easier for me. The College is described as the Heart of KU and I have come to recognize over the last two months how apt that characterization really is. 

As I’ve begun to meet with chairs, directors, faculty, and staff, and participate in start-of-the-semester activities with students, I have been asked about my priorities for the College during this interim period. I have shared three particular issues that I’d like to address, and I’ll speak to those here.

My first priority is to support scholarly activity. As I see it, the fundamental role of the College is the generation of new knowledge that ultimately benefits human welfare and society. In my eyes, the College’s impact and contribution in this rests largely on the quality of the research, scholarship, and creative activity coming from the arts, humanities, and sciences. In a time of limited internal resources at public universities, maintaining this quality will be a challenge, and so efforts to sustain research and scholarly programs of work with external funding will need to be especially encouraged and prioritized wherever possible.

A second priority is to orient the student experience toward skills that will help them succeed in the face of changing workforce needs across the U.S. As Chancellor Girod has stressed repeatedly, the current generation of students will change careers(not just jobs…careers) far more frequently than previous cohorts of students. This implies that their success in the workforce will require quality in skills that are readily translatable across different work sectors. These include for undergraduate students a proficiency in oral and written expression, quantitative literacy, and the ability to evaluate evidence and logical arguments critically. For our graduate students, we must broaden our concept of career opportunities beyond the professoriate and revisit our curriculum accordingly. We should do everything we can to ensure that students have adaptable skills that will serve them long after they leave KU.

Finally, the College will be able to accomplish very little in the current fiscal climate without attending to real-world budgetary constraints. The last few years have been difficult for KU.  The College still has some work to do to achieve financial stability from the impact of those years, and we will be working to adjust to the new budget model to be implemented over the next year. I will be working to streamline operations and workload within the College, to eliminate redundancies, and make us as efficient as possible in carrying out our core mission. The ultimate goal is for the College to return to building strong programs that reflect KU’s place as the flagship research institution in the state. Moving toward these goals will be a collective effort that will take the contributions and leadership of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. I am excited to work closely with many new partners this year and appreciative of the opportunity to work alongside all those who keep the College moving ahead.

Hawks to Watch: Elizabeth Keever, Nonprofit director

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 09:30
Why Elizabeth’s a Hawk to Watch:

Food is all around us. The average American lives just 2.14 miles from a grocery store, and yet despite the close proximity for most, access to healthy food remains out of reach for many families. In Douglas County alone, 19,000 residents are at risk of hunger. So Elizabeth Keever and her dedicated team of staff and volunteers at the nonprofit food bank Just Food are on a mission to combat food insecurity, one meal at a time. 

Located just northeast of 11th and Haskell in Lawrence, Just Food collaborates with community partners to reduce hunger, cultivate self-sufficiency, and empower all community members to live healthy, happy lives. And through tireless collective effort, the relatively small organization is making a major impact. Now approaching their tenth year, Just Food serves over 9,000 residents each month. That’s 150-200 families each day!

As a political science major at KU, Elizabeth, who now serves as Just Food’s executive director, learned how community members’ lives are shaped by public policy. And when she came across a job opening at the non-profit, then looking to hire their second staff member, she saw a perfect opportunity to personally make an impact on her community through on-the-ground work and building strong relationships.

Whether you’re passionate about service in your community, looking to get involved, or searching for ways to apply your talents to a cause that matters, the story of Elizabeth’s journey is sure to offer food for thought.​

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

I lead an organization with the mission of ending hunger in our community by increasing access to healthy foods, reducing barriers to health and well-being, and cultivating self-sufficiency.  My daily tasks include developing and implementing our strategic plan and fundraising efforts, providing community outreach, and overseeing the operations of the organization.

How did you end up doing what you do? Was there a certain moment when things came together? Or was it a longer journey?

I had the opportunity to be Senator Marci Francisco’s intern in the Kansas Senate during my senior year and worked with the staff of the Kansas Democratic Party (KDP) during that time. The KDP offered me a job and I started working as the Director of Operations for the Kansas Democratic Party the day after I walked down the hill with a degree in Political Science from KU. The position was an incredible and unforgettable experience for a new graduate, providing me with skills I continue to use when fundraising and advocating for progressive social policies. After the 2012 election, I wanted to make a change and work for an agency providing direct service to those in need, and I saw an opening at Just Food. At the time it was a small, developing nonprofit looking to hire their second staff person. When I saw how my work could personally impact my community I knew it was the right place for me.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

When I started at Just Food in 2013, we were a staff of two and had a relatively small annual operating budget. We were a modest organization with strong community support and committed volunteers. Over the years, the organization has gone through a number of hurdles and hardships, but the needs of those experiencing food insecurity remains our top priority.

When I took over as Executive Director in 2015, I knew that the growth of the organization was essential to our mission of serving the community. Now, as the organization approaches its 10 year anniversary, I am proud to say that we are a thriving, local nonprofit serving thousands annually with a staff of seven. In the past six years, we have increased access to our food pantry by 252%, increased the amount of food we distribute by 355% and have grown our annual operating budget by 275%. Ultimately, this means that more people in Douglas County have access to healthy food and programs that cultivate self-sufficiency than ever before. Honestly, it feels incredible to lead our dedicated team of volunteers, staff, donors, and board members who have helped to make the organization what it is today. 

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

In 2015, the Just Food Board of Directors and I discovered financial misconduct and embezzlement perpetrated by the Executive Director. This discovery and the subsequent removal of the existing leadership put the organization into a precarious position.

The Just Food staff and board were tasked with some daunting responsibilities; to raise enough capital to cover the stolen funds, and to regain the trust of our community. At the time, there was a distinct possibility that we would be forced to close our doors and the fear of not being available for those families in need was unnerving. We worked tirelessly to develop a plan to move past this ordeal, and I was given the honor of stepping up as Executive Director. I was fortunate to have the incredible support from my family, who lifted me up when I was struggling, and gave me the confidence I needed to lead. I found strength in the Just Food staff, volunteers, and board members, who never stopped working towards our mission and always believed that we could succeed. And finally, I was inspired by a community that believed that everyone deserves access to healthy food. Through this combined effort, Just Food weathered the storm, and emerged stronger than ever.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to be in a position where I can use my knowledge and skills to enact meaningful change in my community. Whether it’s a leadership role at a nonprofit organization, or holding office in local politics, I know that I will be serving my community and giving a voice to those in need.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

My best advice is to advocate for yourself, and use positions of leadership and privilege to advocate for others. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to network; you never know how the people you meet can impact your future.

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

There are things that you learn in college that, at the time, don’t seem to have any practical, real- world application. I would tell myself to get rid of those doubts, and to absorb as much as you can, as there are times when that knowledge does have a use. I’ve pulled more from my time at KU than I ever realized I would while in school, and I deeply value all that I’ve learned.

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

In my political science classes, I learned how policy is created, and how it can shape the lives of those who fall under its purview. As the key communicator on behalf of an organization, I am constantly using the skills I developed through the essays and papers I wrote for each class. As I stated before, I was fortunate to be an intern at the Kansas State House in my senior year, and I received real-life work experience that gave me the opportunity to network with people in the industry.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

In my early years as a KU student, I enjoyed electives centered around metalsmithing and jewelry making. I continue to enjoy creating jewelry in my downtime, along with spending time with my family and friends, watching television, and playing board games.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

Growing up in Texas I played tennis and competed in it one year. I made it all the way to state and placed 3rd. Fortunately for me, there were only 3 people in my age bracket.

Be like Elizabeth. Find ways to make a difference for a cause you believe in. For more information, visit the department of Political Science at the University of Kansas, and learn more about Just Food here. Do you need food? Explore resources through Just Food and the KU Campus Cupboard.

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.