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Our Stories

Alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff

Read and hear from Ichabods who are making a difference at Washburn and in their communities. Many of these articles appear in our publications like The Ichabod, Bell Tower and Washburn Lawyer.

A student and library worker huggingThrive at Washburn: New scholarships create long-term investment in Shawnee County students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Although recent Highland Park High School graduate Jackie Perez applied to other Kansas schools outside of Topeka, when she learned she qualified to receive Washburn University’s new Shawnee County Promise scholarship – which will pay her tuition for all four years of her Washburn education – the decision of where to attend was an easy one.

Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new school of law buildingAn Ideal Opening: Ribbon cut on School of Law building this summer, welcoming first students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The students, faculty, staff and alumni of Washburn University School of Law saw their dream of a new home become a reality. Robert J. Dole Hall was dedicated on July 21, 2023, after much anticipation and an extensive fundraising campaign that brought together more than 1,000 alumni and donors who contributed more than $14 million for the project.

Brian Thomas posing in the server roomTo the Stars: From NASA-funded research to mentoring students, Brian Thomas uncovering the cosmos

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Imagine a massive star exploding in the depths of space. The resulting supernova would be brilliant and catastrophically violent, reaching planets hundreds of light years away – yes, planets like Earth. For Brian Thomas, physics and astronomy professor, taking a closer look at these kinds of existential threats is all in a day’s work.

Two soldiers posing in front of missileVital Role: Maj. Jim Webber’s career in military service reached impressive heights

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
On the heels of the space race, Maj. Jim Webber's story seems plucked from a Cold War novel. It is a tale of humble beginnings, coupled with grit, determination and a dedication propelling him to unimaginable heights. At the height of the Cold War, he served with with 200 nuclear missiles under his charge, ready to launch if the order came through.

Beryl New posing outdoorsHer Life’s Calling: Beryl New closes the book on 35 years of serving students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Over the summer, Beryl New retired from Topeka Public Schools, bringing her 35-year career in education as a teacher, counselor, principal and administrator to a close. In every role, she was guided by the same objective. “I enjoy helping people recognize their potential and develop it,” said New, ba ’88, m ed ’02.

Freddy Mawyin posing in from of Topeka city hallMore than Education: A series of calculated risks has led to career success for Freddy Mawyin

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
When you think of an idyllic American story, you may imagine a tale like that of Freddy Mawyin, mba ’17. Born in the U.S. by accident, Mawyin grew up in Ecuador before coming back to the States. His story is not only a testament to the American dream, but also to the possibilities for those who arrive in Topeka for an opportunity and stay for the community.

Tiffany Mack reading a bookStudying the Greats: New certificate program exposes students of all majors to value of literature, art

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The opportunity to study great literature and works of art has always existed at Washburn. But until now, if a student wasn’t majoring in humanities, their exposure to these works was usually limited to the electives they took. A new certificate program, called Great TEXTS (Transformative, EXperiential and Team-Taught Studies), is making that easier. 

Gabriel Chinya runningQuick Work: Leaders from men’s cross country team looking for more success after breakout season

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Cross country can be a grueling sport. Athletes must run long distances in all types of weather, from late-summer heat to chilly November rains. They have to push themselves through discomfort and find the determination to be their best, not only for themselves but for their teammates. It’s not easy – which is exactly why sophomore Tommy Roehl loves it.

Students posing in front of a university signSpeak the Language: Study of modern languages opens many doors for students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The first time Tirzah Riddle, ba ’15, went to Paraguay, she had a transformative experience. She had never taken public transportation or been away from her mom for more than two weeks. But soon she was living and studying in a region where almost no one spoke English. As an aspiring interpreter and translator, that’s exactly what she was hoping for.

Paige Robbins posing on the softball field wearing nursing scrubsTeam Player: Sibberson Award winner brings team spirit and work ethic to nursing career

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Paige Robbins, bsn, ’23, believes in the power of teamwork, dedicating her energy to helping others and working to get the job done. She brings these three qualities to all she does, and that approach has brought her success, winning the 2023 Sibberson Award for the School of Nursing because of her academics and other work.

Lauren Frost posing in front of Yager StadiumKeeping Order: Lauren Frost following her heart and the rules as athletics compliance director

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Somewhere within the struggles and triumphs of athletics and the rigor of completing a college degree lie the rules and regulations governing what it is to be a student-athlete. Lauren Frost, jd ’17, studies those rules as associate athletic director for compliance and senior woman administrator. Her job is a perfect combination of things she loves.

President JuliAnn Mazachek speaking at a lecturnOff and Running: Mazachek lays out big plans in first months of presidency

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
When JuliAnn Mazachek returned to Washburn University as the new president this February, Alan Bearman was asked by a friend what his work would be like. “I told him I’m going to have to buy a new pair of tennis shoes. She is a person of vision. She's going to have the plan, she's going to have the program, and we're going to be moving forward.”

An arial view of Washburn UniversityPurposeful Change: Washburn, Mazachek unveil vision for premier campus learning experience

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
Washburn University leaders unveiled a seven-year plan at the board of regents meeting in March, and creating the region’s premier student learning environment was the focus of the new campus vision. When the Washburn University School of Law moves into its new building this summer, many other buildings will see their purpose change as part of this plan.

David Peters and Barbara Waterman-Peters posing in their home surrounded by artA Work of Art: Two artistic alumni balance the perfect marriage of love and art

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
As practicing artists of more than 50 years, it’s safe to say art is at the heart of everything for husband and wife, Larry Peters and Barbara Waterman-Peters. Together, the alumni couple have built an art-filled life with creative inspiration around every corner – and their impact on Washburn, Topeka and the local art landscape has no end.

Hon. Candice Alcaraz, ’16. Photo submittedFacing Down Challenges: Judge Candice Alcaraz's mother’s guidance led to history-making position

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
When the Hon. Candice Alcaraz, jd ’16, was sworn in as a Wyandotte County district judge it was a historic event. She is the first Black female judge elected in Wyandotte County. She may also be the county’s youngest judge. But her decisive win over her incumbent opponent is also the result of two key principles Alcaraz’s mother ingrained in her at an early age.

Members of Sigma Lambda Gamma posing on campusA Seat at the Table: Multicultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma sets out to empower change

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
Before joining Sigma Lambda Gamma, Lesley Ayala didn’t always have confidence to speak up as a minority. “As a Latina woman, I didn’t feel like I had a say in the room," she said. "It’s very empowering when someone makes a space for you at the table.” Now, as chapter president, Ayala is helping others find the community she did.

Hon. Francessca Montes-Williams, ’01, and Hon. Eric N. Williams, ’01, with their children for her swearing-inKeeping Family in the Forefront: A couple began journey at Washburn Law

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
For Francessca Montes-Williams, jd ’01, and Eric N. Williams, jd ’01, Washburn Law is all about family. It began 25 years ago when Francessca moved to Topeka from Florida. Three family members attended Washburn and one promised she would love the school, but for a girl used to soft sands and warm breezes, the winter came as a shock.

Savannah Stallbaumer posing in front of a sign on the Washburn Tech campusGoal-focused: Through countless moves in foster care, Stallbaumer stayed focused on nursing dream

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
As a child, Savannah Stallbaumer never knew where she would be living from month to mont since she stayed in more than 17 homes in next nine years. She switched schools a lot too – she attended one school for only two weeks. When she got to Washburn Tech to study nursing, she knew she was on the right track with solid support to reach her dreams.

Elizabeth Ngatia poses in the Washburn Law librarySingle Steps: For Elizabeth Ngatia, a journey of a thousand miles winds up at Washburn

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
For Elizabeth Ngatia, ba ’23, entering Washburn Law is the culmination of a journey that began 8,744 miles away in Mombasa, Kenya. The fact that it ended up with her and her sister earning college degrees – the first in their family to do so – and Ngatia going on to law school, required an unlikely confluence of circumstances, and more than a little luck.

A Washburn jumper competing in the Indoor Athletic FacilityHost with the Most: Events give opportunity to showcase first-rate athletic facility

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
After the nation’s top track and field stars reach the peak of their junior college careers, they need a good place to land. That was one of the many benefits when Washburn hosted the NJCAA track and field championships at its Indoor Athletic Facility. The meet let Washburn show there’s no better place for runners, throwers and leapers to plant their feet.

Maxwell Kautsch headshotMaking a Modern Impact: Attorney helps modernize public records access in Supreme Court case

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
Imagine requesting emails from a public agency and being told not only will you have to lug away four boxes of papers, but also pay for it. That’s what reporters regularly encountered. But Maxwell E. Kautsch, jd ’03, couldn’t stand for that. In a case he won before the Kansas Supreme Court, Kautsch helped modernize the Kansas Open Records Act.

Members of the White family posing outside White Law Office in downtown Holton, KansasLegal Legacy: Washburn family has built a 60-year legacy of law practice in Holton

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
White Law Office and Title Abstract Company, headed by alumnus Dennis White, is recognizing a big milestone this year. The Holton, Kansas, firm is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It’s a momentous occasion made even more remarkable because three generations of the White family have practiced law there after attending the School of Law.

Chase L. Miller and Monte L. Miller posing in front of their sports cars, Monte wearing a leather biker's jacket and Chase wearing a vest and tieA Lasting Impact: Three generations of Washburn Law graduates impact one community

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
Alumni know that connections at Washburn Law run deep and often carry a lasting impact in small communities across the country, especially in rural Kansas. The Miller family in Emporia is no exception.

An officer interacts with the criminal justice simulatorPut Into Practice: Training simulator lets students, law enforcement officers practice decision making skills

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
Julia Kofoid was responding to a homeless person trespassing. With a police officer by her side, the social worker asked the citizen to leave, leading him to become agitated. At any moment, the situation could have turned aggressive. However, the danger was not real since this was a simulation on a screen in the social work class Ethics Workshop.

Tim Belsan posingA Bigger Impact: Desire to make a difference led Belsan to impressive career

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
While some may feel a successful, 10-year career with the U.S. Department of Justice might allow you to sit back and rest on your laurels, Timothy M. Belsan, jd ’09, chose to do just the opposite. In 2022, he took on a new challenge as the assistant deputy enforcement director with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Jaelen Matthews coordinates a Mario Kart tournamentCalling All Gamers: New Esports & Gaming Lounge provides competition and camaraderie for students

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
Jaelen Matthews’ favorite moments at work are when it gets loud. As a monitor for the Esports & Gaming Lounge, seeing a group of students in the joy of the moment is her cue the space is living up to its purpose. “I love it when a group of friends is laughing at what just happened in the game and celebrating. I have fun because they’re having fun.”

Kathleen Lynch posingThe Hon. Kathleen Lynch: Wyandotte County judge inadvertently become an advocate for mental health

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
Judge Kathleen Lynch, jd ’92, became an unexpected mental health advocate, changing the way individuals with mental illness interact with the legal system, leading to a more efficient and compassionate experience. She discusses her trauma-informed approach, the benefits of video court and how she tries to do the most good for people she serves.

Softball players celebrating with a player about the score a runPursuing Greatness: Alumni and fans have many ways to support Ichabod student-athletes

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023
The success of Ichabod student-athletes is directly connected to the support of fans, alumni and friends. Washburn Athletics and the Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation recently put a renewed focus on fundraising for the general athletics fund, renaming the fund the Ichabod Athletic Fund and enhancing donor experiences year-round.

Daniel Creitz speaking at a lecternA Greater Purpose: Award-winning alumnus strives to make big impact in health care

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
When Daniel S. Creitz, jd ’13, graduated from law school, he wasn’t exactly sure where his career would take him. “I knew that I wanted to go into private practice for a while. I wanted to be able to try cases and know how that worked, but I also knew that eventually I wanted to be a part of something bigger.”

Tony and Mary Mattivi posing in the KBI labLaw in Common: For Mattivis, Washburn was foundation for professional success with happy marriage and family

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
Tony Mattivi, jd ’94, and Judge Mary Mattivi, jd ’94, found more than just a great legal education at Washburn, they found each other. They have been on a unique and sometimes challenging adventure, building fascinating careers and raising a family together.

Ron Wurtz posingGiving Back: Wurtz helping educate the next generation of attorneys

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2023
Like many criminal defense attorneys, Ronald Wurtz, ba ’70, jd ’73, pursued his profession because he is passionate about achieving justice and making sure everyone gets a fair trial. The reason he’s stuck with it for more than 40 years is even more straightforward: He genuinely enjoys his work. 

I Will for Washburn logoI Will for Washburn: The Builders and the Investors

From Bell Tower - 2022
Bruce and Theresa McPherson and Jaena, ba '89, and Greg, bba '88, Greenwood joined forces to give $1 million to Washburn University and are asking 100 people to come forward and help spend it. The I Will for Washburn campaign aims to inspire 100 people to make new, documented commitments to include Washburn in their will or estate plans. Those people can then direct $10,000 of the Greenwood/McPherson fund anywhere at Washburn.

Len and Terry Richter posing at KTWULen and Terry Richter: Because of Viewers Like You

From Bell Tower - 2022
When Len and Terry Richter sit down to watch KTWU, the shows always begin with a special message. “You know at the beginning where they say, ‘This program is made possible by viewers like you?’ Len always says, ‘That’s us!’ We are the viewers like you,” said Terry. The Richters are loyal donors because KTWU provides programming they value; Len is a news and politics junkie while Terry is a fan of the classics.

Deyjah Cardenas posingBuilding a Better Life: Cardenas' story as single parent shows Washburn’s Women’s Alliance legacy is growing

From Bell Tower - 2022
When DeyJa Cardenas fled Denver, Colorado, to escape her abusive boyfriend, attending college was the absolute last thing on her mind. “We knew this was our one chance to get away and build a better life,” Cardenas said. Once she settled in Topeka and with the help of WWA, that’s exactly what she did.

Washburn UniversityRock Solid Remembrance: Led by veteran donors, Washburn completes fundraising for a new memorial

From Bell Tower - 2022
Veterans John Dietrick, ba '73, jd '84, and President Emeritus Jerry Farley talk about why they donated to the new veterans memorial that will soon go up on campus. “Washburn has a long history of both military service and honoring those who served,” Farley said. “We are so proud of our veteran alumni, and we are thankful to everyone who contributed.”

Allyn LocknerPhysical Therapists for the Future: Allyn Lockner wants to support the discipline that made a difference for him

From Bell Tower - 2022
Allyn Lockner credits his physical therapist for his success and insisting that he further his education. That’s why he created the Allyn O. Lockner Endowment Fund: Physical Therapists for the Future at Washburn University, where he and his wife have long enjoyed attending activities and events.


"If you see something powerful in someone, tell them. If you think someone has the power to grow, be that supportive system"

Wake Up with Washburn - Nov. 2022
Janice Watkins, ba '05, presented "Building a Solid Foundation: Education, Servant Leadership and Housing" during Wake Up with Washburn.

Gene and Judy OlanderA More Just Society: Law alumni Gene, jd '63, and Judy, jd '82, Olander create legacy for public service

From Bell Tower - 2022
Gene and Judith Olander have always been supporters of Washburn University School of Law – they felt that educations equipped them well for their careers in public service. So for them, they gave back by establishing the Gene and Judy Olander Public Service Law Scholarship at Washburn.

Recital Hall renderingPlaying Host: Washburn’s new recital hall helps stage performances of all kinds

From Bell Tower - 2022
White Concert Hall's reputation as an entertainment staple means it’s in high demand. The 1,100-seat building is booked year-round and used by organizations outside of Washburn more than half of the time. Washburn is undergoing a fundraising effort to build a new recital hall to provide a smaller, more intimate setting equipped with the latest technology.



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Spring 2023 Ichabod magazine cover, roses and a rock wall in front of Morgan Hall

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483