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Hawks to Watch: Estelle Johnson, professional athlete

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 15:06
Why Estelle’s a Hawk to Watch:

Paste introduction here.

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

I’m a professional soccer player. I currently play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) here in the U.S. as well as for the Cameroonian National Team.

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 was drafted in 2010 straight from KU. I still remember the moment I got the news. I was in an interview for an internship in Allen Fieldhouse. I left the interview and had over 70 congratulatory text messages and a handful of calls from friends and family. They knew before I did.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

Not much can top playing in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. I was able to represent my birth nation, Cameroon.

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

I’d say my first professional training camp was a low point. It was just an eye opener to how much I still needed to learn to be good enough to play in the American League. I had to just learn to relax a bit. Once I let go of the stress of possibly getting cut and essentially “failing,” I was able to play my game. That was a turning point for me, for sure.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

I hope to be mentoring other females, not just athletes, and helping them take on life with confidence, grit, determination, strength, and grace.

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

I would tell 18-year-old Estelle to forget about societal expectations on how you should live your life. Instead, simply be good to others and live your life in a way that makes you happy. Simple.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Put your head down and go to work – day in and day out.

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

The ability to communicate effectively is something that is taken so lightly. Everybody just assumes that others know how to do it but I’ve found the opposite to be true. My studies at KU have helped me be one of the best communicators on and off of the pitch. When you’re surrounded by people from all over the world, this is an extremely important aspect of the job.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Eat, sleep, and spend time with my family and loved ones. I like to travel and experience new cultures but I’m pretty simple on a day to day basis.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I come from a huge family. I am one of 10. I have 4 sisters and 5 brothers.

Be like Estelle… For more information, visit…. at the University of Kansas.

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. 

Lilah Wilder goes to Washington as a Department of State intern

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 16:22

If you’ve been keeping up with headlines, you’ve probably noticed that stories involving diplomacy have been dominating the news cycle recently. As a Public Diplomacy intern with the U.S. Department of State’s Student Internship Program, KU senior Lilah Wilder gained hands-on experience and training in international relations and foreign policy, working directly with government officials and organizations whose works shape the political and social landscapes in societies across the globe.

Learn about Lilah’s adventures in the U.S. and overseas, how she plans to achieve her career goals, and how communication skills she developed in College classes prepared her for work in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ Office of Press and Public Diplomacy.

Internship title and organization:

I was a Public Diplomacy intern working in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ Office of Press and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Department of State’s Student Internship Program in Washington, D.C.

 What were your responsibilities during the internship?

I was fortunate to not have a set list of duties during my internship, but rather to have the chance to work on many different projects throughout the internship. I coordinated meetings between State Department officials and professionals from the Middle East and North Africa who were visiting the U.S. through the International Visitor Leadership Program. After coordinating these meetings, I escorted the participants from the Middle East and North Africa throughout the building and even had the chance to moderate their discussions with officials during meetings entirely in Arabic.

Additionally, on my second day of work, I had the chance to set up for and attend the Ministerial Meeting for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. I also collaborated with other offices across the department to plan and organize the 2019 International Women of Courage Awards. On the day of the awards, I took on the role of escorting the International Woman of Courage from Jordan, Khalida al-Twal, to her meetings with State Department officials after First Lady Melania Trump recognized her accomplishments empowering women in the Jordanian Security Forces. I also escorted members of the press to different meetings during the 2019 NATO Ministerial, and I assisted in the planning for the 2019 Camp David Accords Celebration. I thoroughly enjoyed these opportunities to meet people from around the world and practice my French, Arabic, and even Spanish language skills.

One of my more long-term projects was curating press clips every morning on Iran and sending it out to the Department to keep officials updated on what was happening there. I also drafted fact sheets about Secretary Pompeo and other high-ranking officials’ upcoming meetings and conferences around the world and the foreign policy objectives those meetings were meant to achieve. Additionally, I analyzed public responses to U.S. embassies’ social media content regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wrote up a report based on that analysis, and sent it to Jason Greenblatt, the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. Finally, I updated content on the State Department website and archived grant records for Near Eastern Affairs Public Diplomacy programs into Excel spreadsheets.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

My favorite part of the internship was definitely coordinating and moderating meetings between State Department officials and groups from the Middle East and North Africa for the International Visitor Leadership Program. We had several of these meetings every single week of my 4-month internship. During each meeting, I had the chance to practice speaking Arabic and French with the participants and learn about their incredible work as journalists, activists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and scholars in their home countries. My successful coordination of these meetings helped facilitate cross-cultural exchange and improve relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa on the people-to-people level.

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

From this internship, one of the first important things I gained was strong relationships with people in my field in Washington, D.C. My goal is to work in the U.S. Foreign Service, and thanks to this internship, I have gained close friendships and contacts with Foreign Service Officers and other State Department officials who have expressed their willingness to act as references for my job applications and have formed a crucial network that will help me achieve my career goals.

Additionally, I gained a strong understanding of how U.S. foreign policy is formed and shaped while working at the State Department, and I gained valuable skills that I can apply to almost any job after graduation. I learned to write much more concisely and effectively than in school, since government writing is about getting a complex point across in a quick, clear, easily-digestible way (and not in 12-page papers). I also improved my Arabic and French speaking skills in a professional setting, as well as my public speaking skills. Additionally, I gained computer skills by updating the State Department website and working with spreadsheets on a daily basis.

Lastly, I learned how to change the ink in a printer. Who knew something as basic as that would come out of this experience?

How had the classes you’d taken at KU, and in your majors and minors prepared you for the internship?

My classes in Arabic, French, Spanish, Islamic Studies, Environmental Geopolitics, and Comparative Politics are some examples of the coursework from my Global & International Studies major that definitely prepared me for my internship. These courses gave me strong Arabic, French, and Spanish speaking skills in order to interact more productively with visitors coming to the State Department all over the world and to represent the U.S. in a more positive light. The other courses I listed gave me strong writing skills and crucial background knowledge on the workings of the U.S. government and the histories, politics, and cultures of the countries that my office works with on a daily basis. I quickly gained the respect of my colleagues by demonstrating that I had this essential political and cultural knowledge.

Have you been part of any study abroad programs at KU?

I studied abroad twice during my time at KU. First, I studied in an intensive Arabic language program at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco during the summer of 2017. This was my first time living for an extended period of time in a foreign country and my first time to the African continent. It was one of the most eye-opening, impactful experiences of my life and allowed me to gain an incredible amount of independence and confidence in myself.

During the fall semester of 2017, I then studied at IAU College in Aix-en-Provence, France. I lived with a host family who didn’t speak English, so this opportunity allowed me to finally immerse myself in the French language and become fluent after seven years of study. I also had the chance to travel to eight different countries outside of France during that semester and see a lot of Europe.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

After graduation, I am hoping to work as a Program Assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace or at the State Department in Washington, D.C. I am currently applying for these kinds of positions and have interviews in D.C. in a couple of weeks. Eventually, I plan to go to graduate school and get a Master’s Degree in International Affairs. My ultimate goal is to join the U.S. Foreign Service, and although I have passed the Foreign Service Officer Test and have made it through the second round of the selection process, I expect that it will take several years before I can make it through all three rounds and be selected for the Foreign Service.

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

There have been so many people during my college career who have helped me get to where I am today, and I wish I could recognize all of them! However, I would definitely say that my Honors Advisor, Dr. Marc Greenberg, has been one of the most active sources of support in everything I have done in the past four years, from studying abroad, to interning in Washington, D.C., to being involved on campus. One of the first courses I took at KU was an Honors Seminar taught by Dr. Greenberg that inspired my love for learning languages and pushed me to start learning Arabic at KU. Although I never took any other classes with Dr. Greenberg, I have met with him many times over the past four years to talk about my career goals, get advice, and update him on what I am pursuing. He has written me countless recommendation letters and always believed in my ability to achieve my goals. Thank you Dr. Greenberg!

I would also really like to recognize Professor Antje Ziethen and Professor Christine Bourgeois in the French Department for taking my French reading and writing skills to the next level, for always taking an interest in my goals, and for supporting me in my Fellowship and Fulbright applications!

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

One of the benefits of being in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has simply been being exposed to students from diverse backgrounds holding diverse interests, perspectives, and talents in my classes! I have talked to Engineering and Pre-Med students who have told me that their classrooms have been very different than mine, as most of the students in their classes have the same interests and goals, and they have had to join clubs and other organizations in order to get exposure to diversity at KU.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Although it is important to get good grades, you don’t need to pull so many all-nighters to balance school, work, and a social life! Manage your time more efficiently and find that happy, healthy medium between slacking off and taking school way too seriously to the point of stress. Enjoy your youth and get more sleep so you live longer! Haha.

What motivates you?

I have always been very self-motivated, constantly reminding myself of my career goals and where my hard work will eventually take me in order to stay dedicated. 

Be like Lilah. Stay dedicated to your goals. For more information, explore the Center for Global & International Studies, the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Middle East Studies, the Department of African and African-American Studies, and Study Abroad & Global Engagement at the University of Kansas. Also see the U.S. Department of State’s Student Internship Program and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ Office of Press and Public Diplomacy.

Unwinding: Dave Tell on race, memory and the legacy of Emmett Till

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 11:26

What does it mean to commemorate a moment in time? For Professor of Communication Studies Dave Tell, commemorating the legacy of the murder of Emmett Till has taken him on a journey from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago. As part of the Emmett Till Memory Project, Tell has worked with Till’s family to help shepherd his story and to preserve his memory. Hear Tell discuss his latest book Remembering Emmett Till, how he came to be involved with the Emmett Till Memory Project, and his work with memory, race and place on the latest episode of Unwinding.

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.

Photo credits: University Daily Kansan

Hawks to Watch: Brett Striker, Entrepreneur

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 11:13
Why Brett’s a Hawk to Watch:

Fair warning: You might want to grab a snack before reading about our November Hawk to Watch, Brett Striker, CEO and founder of the Minneapolis-based popcorn company Maddy & Maize. At Maddy & Maize, Brett and his team are feeling the holiday rush in full force, popping up small batches of chocolate-covered, caramel-drizzled, sprinkle-coated gourmet goodness to satisfy the appetites of a hungry seasonal market.

A career that requires being surrounded by popcorn may sound delightful, but Brett’s road to entrepreneurship was often an uphill struggle, with numerous obstacles and rejections along the way. But with a solid understanding of people from his KU degree in psychology, and a determined, ‘keep at it’ mindset, he was able to turn his vision into a delicious reality.

Check out what Brett had to say about his experiences with business start-up, how Maddy & Maize came to be, and see what kernels of wisdom (pun 100% intended) he has to share with KU students and aspiring entrepreneurs. Discover why Brett’s a Hawk to Watch.

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

I am the Founder & CEO of a popcorn company called Maddy & Maize.

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 knew that I wanted to own my own business, but I didn’t have a clue as to what type of business it would be. I spent years coming up with ideas in my head – whether it was an idea for an app or taking an existing business model and trying to figure out how I could improve upon it, or simply developing a completely new business that didn’t exist yet. I was pretty obsessive about it.

Eventually, when I thought that I actually had an idea that had some legs to it, I’d research what it would take to get started and then try to find a way to raise some money. I did this for many years and with multiple business ideas that resulted in enough “no’s” to last a lifetime, but it was absolutely necessary for me. Although it was a long and difficult process, I learned so much about business. I began to develop new perspectives as a result of talking to smarter people than I who either explained why my ideas wouldn’t work or would ask me questions that I hadn’t yet thought of. So, in one sense, it wasn’t necessarily a moment when things came together because it took years; however, I do remember the exact moment when I had the idea for popcorn. Finally, after everything I had learned, this idea made some sense. Now, I just had to figure out how to make it! 

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far, without a doubt, is that I haven’t given up. Starting this business has been so much harder than I would’ve ever expected – and I expected it to be extremely hard – but, I never let myself give up despite wanting to so many times.

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

There have been many days when I felt so down and defeated that I couldn’t even move. I have no doubt that I will face more days like that in the future, but I’ve learned to never get too up or too down. I guess the key for me is expecting low moments and viewing them as opportunities. I know it’s cliché, but it’s truly how I view any obstacles in front of me. I feel fortunate that from a very young age, my mom would always stress to me that I need to look at every bump in the road as an opportunity to learn and grow. I’ve definitely become mentally stronger over the years, but fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t know how a person can learn and grow unless they also experience challenges along the way. 

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to be in a financial position where I can mentor and invest in aspiring entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

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

I’d probably tell myself that the years right out of college are going to be extremely challenging, and although it might seem from the outside that all of your friends look as if they are happy, successful, love doing what they are doing and have it all together, that probably isn’t the case.  They are all just like me. We are all freaking out about not knowing what we want to do with our lives and looking around as if we are the only one. But rather than doing something that seems like it will make you a lot of money, it is actually the time to enjoy the unknown. Take risks. If nothing else, you’ll learn what you don’t want to do and meet awesome people along the way. Oh, and 30 isn’t old at all. It’s not some magic age where you need to have it all figured out. But the 18-year-old me probably still wouldn’t have believed me!

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Meet with people that make you feel intimidated. Ask to meet with them for a coffee and pick their brain for advice. Don’t worry if you don’t really have any deep questions to ask. You’ll quickly start to feel more comfortable around people and in situations that make you nervous the more you put yourself out there. Networking is crucial and those are the type of people you should be looking to meet. One of my favorite quotes, even though I don’t have a clue who said it and I’m likely paraphrasing it is, “everything you’ve ever wanted is just outside of your comfort zone.”

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

My degree taught me a lot about people and how they think. I learned that we all have our own internal struggles, and for the most part, we are all trying our best.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

I don’t really ever truly “clock out” but I try to hang out with my friends and relax as much as possible. I like to read and workout, but the truth of the matter is I need to do a better job of turning it off. 

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I have a twin sister named Erin who also graduated from KU. She’s pretty cool.

Be like Brett. Chase what excites you, even it takes you out of your comfort zone. For more information, visit the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas and Maddy & Maize.

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. 

Starting the dialogue: Jeff Thompson and Thomas Angel tackle health issues with new podcast

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:18

Issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and male relationships can make for sensitive topics of conversation for some, but two nontraditional students in the KU College have built a podcast devoted to tackling those subjects and more.

Jeff Thompson and Thomas Angel, who are both studying in the College on a pre-med track, quickly hit it off as friends and bonded over their common interests. Jeff, who has Type 1 diabetes, and Thomas, who comes from a poverty-stricken community and served in the U.S. military, wanted to share their passion for helping others with the world. And one morning, over 5:00a.m. cups of coffee, they landed on the idea of starting a podcast to help reduce stigma, promote healthy living, and encourage open discussion about health issues that affect millions of people.

Learn about Thomas and Jeff’s journey as nontraditional students at KU, launching The Kensington Corner podcast, and their goal of spreading mental and physical health through their careers and honest dialogue.

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

Jeff: I chose my major because it’s a science major that I was interested in and really felt it encompassed all the bases moving forward towards the end goal of becoming a doctor. There wasn’t really a moment, but it interfaced well with the desire to get into medicine. The journey has been fun, scary quitting job as an adult, but as a non-traditional student it’s an opportunity to redeem myself in college now.

Thomas: I chose Italian because I love the culture and language and wanted to have a foreign language heading into Med School. I was incredibly interested in Behavioral Neuroscience because I love all aspects of neuro, curious about how the brain works, why we behave the way we do and the evolution of the human brain. I really knew I wanted to do both of these coming back in. The journey from military to now has been humbling, I’m excited to be back in school.

Tell us about your podcast, The Kensington Corner. Where did the idea come from, and what do you hope to achieve through the project? What life experiences informed your approach to the podcast?

Thomas: Our podcast aims to help promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy conversation. The idea came from Jeff and I having a morning coffee around 5 am a couple times a week. We were having great conversations and decided we wanted to share that with the world and invite other people in. We believe every human being is unique and wanted to showcase that. My time in the military really shaped my view of the world and helped form the idea of becoming a doctor and helping people. Jeff has been working well over a decade in the civilian field and has Type 1 diabetes which leads him to wanting to help others in ways that I could never understand. We share a common understanding of wanting to be better people and help others achieve that as well.

How do you apply lessons or skills you’ve gained in your majors to your podcast work?

We would actually say it’s vice versa; we use our communication skills that we develop on the podcast in daily interactions with peers, professors and advisors. The podcast has given us an outlet to learn and understand more about the world and the individuals who roam it.

Do you have any advice for others about how to begin to have more open dialogues about some of the issues you discuss in The Kensington Corner, such as mental health, PTSD, anxiety, and male relationships?

Be open and honest. Don’t be ashamed of anything and know that there are people out here who care and want to help. That approach is a good way to lead by example who are going through dark times and maybe need a lift out of the slump they’re in.

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

Ally Stanton and Keon Stowers of the Alumni Association have been beneficial in our success here at KU.

The professor that I would say we’d like to give the most credit to our success is Shaui Sun. He’s a kind, caring individual who really gets the students. He does not get the credit in his department that he should.

What have your experiences as a nontraditional student at KU been like?

Overall a very positive experience. Being non-traditional gives you an entirely different perspective that your peers probably don’t understand. It is energizing to be around the younger generation because we’re learning more daily about ourselves than maybe we would if we were around like-minded individuals our age all the time. It’s a refreshing feeling, we’re basically kids again.

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Jeff: Intelligence and talent isn’t a substitute for hard work.

Thomas: Slow down, be patient. It will all come with time.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

Both of us want to be doctors. Of course, Jeff and I are very different, he is leaning towards the trauma side of medicine whereas I’m interested in the brain/psych side. We just both hope we’re healthy and somewhat successful and happy in our careers.

What motivates you?

Jeff: The desire to get into med school and make a positive impact in my community.

Thomas: I come from a poverty-stricken area, so just knowing I never want to live like that again.

Be like Jeff and Thomas. Start a dialogue about the issues that matter to you. For more information, explore the Undergraduate Biology Program, the Department of Psychology, and the Department of French, Francophone & Italian Studies at the University of Kansas. And check out The Kensington Corner podcast. Feature image photo by Kathy Hanks at the Lawrence Journal-World.

Unwinding with Joy Ward: Ecologist

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 15:01

By now you’ve heard about climate change affecting weather cycles and sea levels, but a less discussed element of rising carbon dioxide levels is changes to vegetation. Associate Dean for Science Research Joy Ward and her team are seeking answers to questions about how plants respond under different climate conditions by simulating carbon dioxide levels in a lab setting. Learn more about Associate Dean Ward’s research and how she first became interested in working with plants on our latest episode of Unwinding.

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.

Habitat: Explore where KU theatre & dance get their threads

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 09:11

Housing thousands of costumes from decades of productions, the Costume Shop turns out new designs each season for KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance. Go inside this creative space to see where it all gets stitched together.

For more information, explore the Department of Theatre & Dance and the KU School of the Arts at the University of Kansas.

Jayhawk entrepreneur Paige Albert makes a splash with KC bridal boutique

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 11:06

Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss? For KU alumna Paige Albert, the idea of running a business had long been an exciting possibility for a future career. So when approached about buying a small bridal boutique in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, only six months after being hired on and with a year of university study still ahead of her, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. In January 2018, Paige became the new owner of Something White Bridal Boutique.

Check out Paige’s advice for aspiring Jayhawk entrepreneurs, and discover how she was able to pursue her passion with a major in Communication Studies, a minor in Business, and a certificate in Entrepreneurship from KU.

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

I’m from Andale, Kansas – just outside of Wichita. I decided to come to KU because my mom is Jayhawk Alumni and I knew KU would make me a more well-rounded person. I also liked that Lawrence is far enough from home but still close enough to do a day trip if I ever needed to. AND, the basketball atmosphere isn’t bad either. Lawrence has always felt like home to me, even before I came to KU!

Why did you choose your major and minor? And how do they complement each other?

After switching my major a million times, I chose communication because it seemed general enough to not close any opportunities off. Because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time, something general seemed like a good choice. My business minor was more of what I wanted to do, but didn’t add any time onto my already prolonged time at KU. I think the two complement each other in every way possible.

Tell us about your business, Something White Bridal Boutique. How did you decide to start your own business, and what has that experience been like?

Something White Bridal opened its doors in 2014 in the Crossroads District of Downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Something White caters exclusively to brides and offers a diverse selection of bridal gowns from designers around the world. We are a small, intimate boutique and pride ourselves on giving our brides the best experience possible, from the day we meet until after their big day! 

I began my journey at Something White in 2016 and was approached about purchasing the boutique just six months after my initial start date. As a full-time student, taking on a fully functioning business sounded terrifying, but I truly believe that life is about opportunity and it doesn’t always come knocking, so when it does you have to go for it. I officially became the owner of Something White in January of 2018 and haven’t looked back!

So far, my experience has been full of growth in every way. From learning how to manage a team to renovating the boutique and juggling my last year of college and the shop all at once – it’s been a whirlwind. I can honestly say that Something White Bridal is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and the friendships and experiences I’ve encountered in just 14 months makes me so excited for the future.

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

I think that KU made me so much more open minded as a person. Learning about other cultures and ways of life is beneficial in any career and comes in handy every day. I also think that I learned really practical skills within my major and minor.

What was your favorite class at KU? And why?

ENTR 303 with Charlotte Tritch and COMS 440 with Adrianne Kunkle – FOR SURE. I learned so much about marketing with Charlotte and with Adrianne I gained a more worldly view of struggles I will never experience.

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

Charlotte Tritch and Lisa Bergeron were both amazing to me. I learned so much from both of them and they showed so much grace and understanding when it came to my schedule of school and work. Plus, I’m pretty sure they are the reason I get to be a part of fun features for KU like this!

What advice would you give to KU students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?

Do it! It’s so incredibly worth it in every way. Make as many connections as you can and don’t take “no” for an answer. If there’s a will, there’s a way. 

What would you tell your freshman self?

GO TO CLASS. SERIOUSLY. And also, it’s cool if you don’t get an “A” on everything. It’s not the end of the world, just get through it and learn from it. Again, make connections and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

What’s your best KU memory?

My freshman year was the best year ever. Living in the dorms was a blast and I loved every second of it. Every basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse was also amazing and I’m really bummed about not having student tickets anymore. BUT, singing the Alma Matter at graduation was amazing. It’s so bittersweet to leave KU but the feeling of being Jayhawk Alumni is such a proud moment and it’s so fun to experience with your classmates! 

What motivates you?

My mom. She’s the hardest working person I know and exemplifies a class act to me. I want to be the best version of myself to make her proud and I want to provide for my future family the way my mom has for us. I would be nowhere without my mom and I owe everything to her.

Be like Paige. When opportunity knocks, answer. For more information, explore the Department of Communication Studies, the School of Business, and KU Entrepreneurship Programs at the University of Kansas. Also, check out Paige’s business, Something White Bridal Boutique.

Hawks to Watch, Julie Mulvihill, Nonprofit director and humanities advocate

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 15:34

Why Julie’s a Hawk to Watch:

Every great movement begins with an idea. And when Kansans from diverse backgrounds come together to share their experiences, ask the right questions, and exchange ideas, the possibilities are endless, something that Julie Mulvihill knows well from her years bringing public programming to the Sunflower State.

At Humanities Kansas, located in Topeka, Julie and her team are joining forces with partners statewide around the shared goal of “leading a movement of ideas across Kansas” — a movement fueled by public work in the humanities. And as executive director, Julie is leading the nonprofit’s efforts to connect Kansas’ communities by sharing its stories, values, history and culture, and exploring what it means to be a Kansan today in the 21st century.

Discover how Julie’s KU degrees and experiences allowed her to apply her passion for storytelling and people outside of the classroom, and led to a career where she’s able to collaborate with the public, as well as staff at places like the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, on projects centered on the humanities. Because every big idea is grounded in the human experience.

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

I am the Executive Director of Humanities Kansas, an independent nonprofit leading a movement of ideas across Kansas. Since our founding in 1972, we’ve pioneered programming, grants, and partnerships in the belief that stories carry our culture and ideas change the world.

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

There are two experiences when the humanities clicked for me. I didn’t recognize it as “the humanities” then, but more of a strong attraction to fiction, as well as history. I remember going to KU’s Natural History Museum in elementary school and learning about the Galapagos Islands and sitting there on my carpet square up on the 6th floor and thinking, “there is a whole world out there that I know nothing about” and feeling like it was an important responsibility to know more. Books did this for me too.

In the summertime, my family went to Lawrence once a week on Wednesday mornings. And every Wednesday morning we made stops at the bank, post office, library, and grocery store. The stop at the Lawrence Public Library was, by far, the highlight and we would walk out of there with stacks of books. I started with Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, and then became impossibly hooked on historical fiction during elementary and middle school. Reading is still my favorite thing to do. I never really thought of this line of work as a profession, and nonprofit work wasn’t something I knew anything about. But, fifteen years after the Galapagos Island presentation, I was attending KU and got a job at the Natural History Museum assisting with their public education camps right up there on the 6th floor.

After graduating and realizing classroom teaching wasn’t for me, I thought back about how much I loved the learning that happened within the museum environment. From there I went on to become the curator of education at the Johnson County Museum and then at the Kansas Historical Society. Each step of that journey had the humanities at its core – the connection between people and place over time and across generations. After getting over my intimidation about being an executive director, I was beyond excited to get offered the job at Humanities Kansas. To help make civic engagement opportunities through the humanities available to more Kansans? Yes, please! The humanities provide an encouragement, an expectation that we have the ability to see beyond ourselves. It’s the best work ever.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

Our work with saving democracy. It’s not as farfetched as it sounds. The public work that we do at Humanities Kansas is centered around the big, bold idea that democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. What better lens to do this than the humanities? The humanities help us ask good questions: what do we value, what do we owe to one another, and where do we make adjustments to prepare for generations to come?  Our work is grounded in this idea that the human experience is worthy of our attention. It’s an extraordinary call to action and every day I get the opportunity to help make more of these conversations happen in Kansas. As a job perk, I get to do this with many, many partners, including board members and fellow staff members, and Kansans from all across the state.

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

I don’t consider any of my job experiences a low point. For my first two jobs, I spent my days alphabetizing, filing, and answering the telephone. I’ve sat at a front desk, sold shoes, cleaned bathrooms at a historic site, and taught school in a turn-of-the-century schoolmarm costume. I have learned something at every single job. Here’s the deal, though: If that job is not your thing, keep moving forward.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

Wouldn’t it be great if in 10 years every community in Kansas, regardless of size, location, and prosperity, had ample access to dynamic and innovative cultural programming and resources? It’s the movement of ideas, Humanities Kansas will lead the way, and I hope and plan to be instrumental in this success. So, Hawks out there? Let’s do this together and make welcoming places where Kansans of all backgrounds can share insights and ideas to make our communities stronger. Together we can spark new ideas about what it means to be a Kansan in the 21st century.

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

Don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s almost always another option or another plan b.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Stay curious and pay attention. Every meeting gives you the opportunity to connect to something or someone new, and you never know where that may lead. Who could predict that a farm kid from Billtown would eventually get hired to run an awesome organization, and work with many smart, imaginative, and civic-minded Kansans, as well as with staff at the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and the National Endowment for the Humanities? I have a hard time believing it myself and I never take it for granted. 

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

KU taught me the skills I needed to be organized, empathetic, and creative. I use these daily in my job whether I’m analyzing reports, raising money, or brainstorming program directions.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Read. I’m the proud owner of three library cards. I’d love to have more.   

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I was going to use my line about owning three library cards here but I realized that wouldn’t surprise anyone, so how about this: I was really into 4-H growing up. I held every office as a “Go-Getter,” became a 4-H ambassador, and showed and sold cattle. I still have one of my 4-H t-shirts from the early 1980s, which I keep next to my original KU sweatshirt from my freshman year in 1987.

Be like Julie. Be part of a movement that matters. For more information, visit the School of Education, the Museum Studies Program, and the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas. Also, explore Humanities Kansas.

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. 

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