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Our Stories

Alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff

Read the latest feature stories from people who are making a difference for Washburn. Many of these articles appear in our publications like The Ichabod and Bell Tower.

Sherika Carey posingNo Longer Alone: Former foster youth find stability, support system at Washburn

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Foster youth are part of a system throughout their childhood, and then as adults, the opportunities become voluntary. For those who seek higher education, two Ichabods hope more people become aware of their unique needs and the stigma is erased from this non-traditional group of students.

Sean Bird posingWe Love our Librarian: Mabee librarian Sean Bird, ba '91, receives American Library Association award

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
As the associate dean of university libraries and the Center for Student Success and Retention, Sean Bird has made it his primary focus to do everything he can for the success of Washburn students. With a passion that shines through in all he does, he was recently named a winner of the 2021 I Love My Librarian Award.

Taylor Molt posingStill Performing: Even with limited audiences, performance arts students find ways to hone craft 

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
At Washburn’s theatre department, the show must go on – even in the midst of a global pandemic. Despite social distancing guidelines intended to curb the spread of COVID-19, the University’s resilient performing arts students and faculty have found a way to make performances happen. That’s not to say the experience has been easy or ideal.

Ron Brown posingThe Education Beat: Ron Brown, bs '97, mcj '14, balanced education and experience during law enforcement career

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Education and experience are key to moving up in almost any profession. For Ron Brown, he was able to have a rewarding career in law enforcement thanks to invaluable experience on the streets and advanced education in the classroom.

Chaz Havens at Tech announcementGrowing Confidence: Faculty, staff and industry partners continue investing in Washburn Tech East

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
With a waiting list in some programs and room to grow in others, Washburn Tech East is becoming a catalyst for workforce development and a lifeline for residents in East Topeka seeking easier access to adult education. And there’s no “wait and see” approach as COVID-19 limited enrollment capacity in some programs and tapered demand in others.

Social work students and facultyHard Questions: Suicide intervention training available through Washburn

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
“Have you ever thought about taking your own life?” It is as intimidating a question to receive as it is to ask. Being prepared to ask these kinds of questions comfortably and confidently doesn’t come easy to many but proper training can help. The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program at Washburn seeks to offer that special training.

Students at the Bods Feeding BodsEssential Needs; Campus food pantry expands offerings with new freezer, commodities section

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Food insecurity can be a hidden problem that is not often discussed on college campuses. As a student and manager of Washburn University’s Bods Feeding Bods Food and Commodities Pantry, Matthew Smoker wants to talk about it. The pantry recently purchased a freezer, allowing volunteers to stock more perishable items and premade meals.

SAAC group photoCatalyst for Change: Washburn’s student-athletes advocate for social and racial justice

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
In a year when athletes saw competition seasons cut short or eliminated completely, Washburn's student-athletes took to a different playing field. Their goal? To make a positive impact on the campus and Topeka community by educating themselves and their fellow students through a series of lectures and events on the issues of the world around them.

Brooke Preston posingImpactful Decisions: Business simulations prepare students for reality and success after graduation

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Not everyone can say they placed in the top three out of hundreds of teams from around the world, but Washburn School of Business alumna Brooke Preston can. Preston, bba ’20, finished third last year in the Capsim Challenge, a business simulation that determines the world’s best at running a multi-million dollar simulation company. 

Mitch Schurig playing footballCome Back for Good: Student-athletes make positive changes through Brenneman Series

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Greg Brenneman, bba ’84, h ’99, the former CEO of Continental Airlines, Burger King and Quiznos, authored “Right Away and All at Once: Five Steps to Transform Your Business and Enrich Your Life” to explain how people can use his business principles to better their personal lives. A seven-week program at Washburn teaches students these principles.

Emma Ginder posingLearning's a Gas: In a trying year, educators find new ways to keep kids smiling

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
Keeping third graders on the same page is hard enough when they’re all learning in a confined physical space. Scatter them across town into their “home offices," and the task takes on added difficulty. Emma Ginder, b ed ’17, a teacher in Topeka, found a unique way to pep up a group of 9-year-olds mired in another full day of screen time.

Derik Flerlage posingSlowing the Spread: Derik Flerlage, as '18, ba '18, helping manage Shawnee County’s COVID-19 response

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
When Derik Flerlage joined the Shawnee County Health Department, it was in the midst of battling one of its most difficult challenges in its history – the COVID-19 pandemic. “This wasn’t your typical start to a job," said Flerlage, the infectious disease division manager and deputy COVID-19 operations section chief where he works to control spread.

Reuben MarkhamFriend of Humanity: Reuben Markham, 1908, spent career writing in opposition to Nazi Germany, communism

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
In 1949, the Washburn Alumni Association initiated its Distinguished Service Award, choosing Reuben Markham among its first honorees. Markham's life reflected Washburn’s abolitionist heritage and inclusive core values.

Ben ReedTurtle Trackers: Students design research projects around turtle populations in Midwest

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
After following a tree line for some time, the telemetry signal told biology major Becca Tolbert she would need to turn into a thick forest if she was going to find Lady of the Lake. Ben Reed, her professor, didn’t hesitate. He goes where turtles go, and that can include a thorny forest, a sunbaked prairie, a patch of poison ivy or elbow-deep in a dark hole.

Nursing graduate Parker JonesIntensive Care: Recent nursing graduates provide compassionate care during pandemic

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
Treating patients with coronavirus has become a part of daily life for Washburn University-trained nurses, but some aspects of the job never get easier. Three recent nursing graduates discussed their roles and experiences working amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marable Justin, Roaming Beneath, acrylic screen printSustaining Voices: Third annual WUmester will explore global theme of sustainability

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
If all goes as planned, the conversations and ideas sparked by this year’s WUmester will last well beyond the spring 2021 semester. The third annual event’s theme is sustainability, and faculty and staff have plans to engage students and the community through panel discussions, speakers and events.

Indoor Athletic Facility exteriorA Track and a Field: Indoor Athletic Facility increases options for practice, competition on campus

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
When the ribbon was cut at Washburn with the opening of the new Indoor Athletic Facility, it signaled fruition of many dreams. The football, soccer, track and field, baseball and softball teams will now have places to practice indoors, and Washburn and the city of Topeka will have a new building to host indoor track and field competitions.

Students at multicultural centerAll Are Welcome: Students and staff look forward to the future of a new space and new direction

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
For multicultural students at Washburn, when they don’t see a space for themselves, they create it. Washburn celebrated the opening of the Multicultural Intersectional Learning Space in September. The learning space will be focused on student support, safety, outreach, intersectional learning and leadership to help improve cultural understanding.

Tyler Quintin Finding RestWell-formed Plan: Tyler Quintin, bfa '16, explores cultural themes at ceramics residency in Florida

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
“I am Korean-American with an entirely American upbringing. When someone meets me, they see an Asian person and will have their own assumptions based on appearance.” Just like the artist himself, with Tyler Quintin’s ceramics, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Will LawrenceSustaining Ties: Working with both sides of the aisle focus for Will Lawrence, ba '10, jd '13

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
Before he started working as chief of staff for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in 2018, Will Lawrence didn’t think much about emergency management. Tornadoes and floods are common in the Midwest, but the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the unforeseen challenges of balancing the needs of the economic and business sectors with public health.

Vanessa Dudley MillerHelping Them Grow: Vanessa Dudley-Miller, msw '06, advocating for foster children, trauma survivors

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
Recent research on resiliency showed individuals who have healed from trauma share a common variable: They all have strong relationships and systems of support. In her role as state director of the Kansas Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, Vanessa Dudley-Miller sees the value of strong role models every day.

Rick FlemingVoice for the Public: Rick Fleming, bba '90, advocates for the average investor with the SEC

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
When the financial crisis in 2008 left many concerned Wall Street had a little too much of a say on the rules of investing, Congress went to work. A package of legislation was passed to improve financial regulatory structure. In it – the creation of a role with one thing in mind: to look out for the average investor. Enter Rick Fleming.

Students using the 3D scannerSharper Image: Donated 3D scanner gives students an edge up

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
Washburn recently received a 3D scanner donated from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and with this high-tech equipment, students will be able to obtain real-world experience in the classroom setting, as well as training on equipment that will help them on the job or in graduate school.

Garrett and Caley LoveHolding Water: Professionals in various fields do their part to sustain vital resource

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
Life is impossible without water. But Earth’s most important resource is necessary for much more than just survival. Without it, countless occupational and recreational activities would also cease to exist. Farmers and professors share why they’ve chosen to make the sustainability of water a central focus of their life’s work.

Chris Herron and volleyball team at Hy-VeeSet for Life: Adulting 101 classes provide crash course in everyday skill sets

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
The opportunities to bump and spike may have been limited this season, but when it comes to life lessons college students aren’t typically taught, the volleyball team is now set. The coaches organized a series of Adulting 101 classes that covered practical topics ranging from financial advice and insurance coverage to eating healthy and using good manners.

Carolyn CovingtonRisks and Rewards: Actuarial science program gives students pathway to premium positions

From The Ichabod - Winter 2021
As the only school in Kansas recognized as an advanced undergraduate program by the Society of Actuaries, Washburn holds a distinct advantage in producing actuarial science graduates who are prepared to complete the demanding exam sequence and remain in the industry for the long haul.

James HurdBells Restored: Donation from Dr. James Hurd, ba ’67, for maintenance of bells revives familiar tune

From Bell Tower - Fall 2020
Kuehne Bell Tower may be Washburn’s most iconic structure. The tower sets a visual tone that is secondary only to the audible one that can be heard from every inch of campus. The bells sat silent the past four years, in need of maintenance until Dr. James Hurd chimed in with a donation that will keep them ringing for generations to come.

Becky HeidrickEducation, Faith and Compassion: Values drive scholarship gift in Becky Heidrick’s memory

From Bell Tower - Fall 2020
For Gary Heidrick, bba ’73, meeting his wife, Becky Heidrick, was the highlight of his time as a student at Washburn. The couple got to know each other in 1972, when Gary was a senior majoring in business and accounting and Becky was a freshman. The first time Gary saw Becky at an event, she made quite an impression.

Pat and Jorge NoboAccidental Philosopher: Pat Nobo creates scholarship to honor her late husband Jorge Nobo’s dedication

From Bell Tower - Fall 2020
A seemingly insignificant life choice can sometimes turn into a catalyst for something much bigger. For Jorge Nobo, an elective he took led to a life devoted to philosophy and teaching, and both his wife and a former student memorialized his life with a scholarship and a poem – two fitting creations for someone esteemed by his students and colleagues.

Mike ManningMike Manning, jd '77, H '07, Makes Capstone Gift: Law School building becomes a reality

From Bell Tower - Fall 2020
In honor of his exemplary career, the advocacy suite in the new law school building will be named the Michael C. Manning Advocacy Suite and Michael C. Manning Courtroom. Manning gave the law school $1 million to finalize the building campaign. It is his hope that someday trials will take place in the courtroom and it will be a special place for students to learn and dream about their careers.

Jak KendallEnlightening Work: Fellowship lets students curate Mulvane exhibit, create accompanying piece

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
Stevie Delgado perked up at the opening of the Rita Blitt Gallery and Sculpture Garden in 2017 when she heard a new fellowship would allow a student to work closely with the Rita Blitt Legacy Collection. A year later, Delgado was essentially handed the keys to the gallery – with guidance from staff – as the inaugural recipient of the Irwin Blitt Fellowship.

Inside Out t-shirt that says moving beyond the walls that separate usOutside and Inside: Traditional students and prison inmates learn, share together in new program

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
This spring, traditional Washburn students participated in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, gaining new perspectives on the criminal justice system during a blended class with incarcerated students. The quickest lesson learned was also the most vital: The students inside and outside the prison found out they actually had a lot in common.

Jak KendallMaking the Most: Working toward college degrees in high school gives students early advantage

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
It is not uncommon for students to graduate with a high school diploma, Washburn University Institute of Technology certificate  and Washburn University associate’s degree within a year of each other or sooner. Free and reduced-price tuition give students many advantages along the way when they choose this path.

Kelsey AlfordShe Can Do That: Radiation therapist Kelsey Alford, c '16, battles obstacles to overcome dystonia, doubters

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
Kelsey Alford proved doubters wrong when they said she couldn’t work in a medical field while battling the pain and discomfort caused by dystonia. She found encouraging faculty members in Washburn’s radiation therapy program and now works as a radiation therapist. She competes in Spartan Races in her spare time.

Michael RyanIn His Opinion: Michael Ryan, ba '81, discusses important issues as KC Star editorial writer

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
Michael Ryan offered to help a fraternity brother and contribute a column to the Washburn Review. He quickly learned to type on a manual typewriter and hammered out a column in the style of comedic writer Woody Allen. He's since had a 30-year career in journalism and works as an opinion writer for the Kansas City Star.

Jak KendallSound of Silence: Theatre alumna Kelie McIver, ba '82, remembers overcoming damaged vocal chords

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
“The doctor said you have soft nodules on your vocal chords, and if you don’t let them heal, they can become permanently damaged.” Kelie McIver took that warning seriously. But for the vocalist and theatre major, healing her damaged vocal chords with complete vocal rest was easier said than done. Well, maybe easier written than done.

Jak KendallBig-City Style: Celebrity photo shoot opens avenues for Dawson Hiegert, c '18, and his mane adventure

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
Last year, Dawson Hiegert decided the time had come to go from “hair” to “there” – with the best perk of “there” being moving to New York City to work with some of the nation’s highest profile hair stylists on a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot. Not a bad resume builder for a 19-year old who recently completed the cosmetology program at Washburn Tech.

Jak KendallValuable Assets: Master of accountancy prepares graduates for critical problem-solving roles

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
The Washburn University School of Business master of accountancy program doesn’t just produce number crunchers. The program takes the rules-based knowledge learned in an undergraduate accounting program and furthers it by making the students ask ‘why?’ The resulting degree makes alumni especially valuable to their company or clients.

Jak KendallEverything’s Rosie: Internship leads to role with Dept. of Commerce for recent graduate Rosie Nichols, ba '20

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
Rosie Nichols, ba '20, interviewed for a job this spring at the Kansas Department of Commerce while using the WiFi in a McDonald’s parking lot while visiting her grandmother in Russell, Kansas. She got the job and works as an international development representative.

Kyle HintonNext in Line: In year of long waits, offensive lineman Kyle Hinton, als '20, in final push to play in NFL

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020
From his earliest practices as a freshman on Washburn’s football team, coaches pegged Kyle Hinton as an eventual pro football prospect. The offensive lineman from Peoria, Arizona, with a zero-star rating and little recruiting buzz exceeded the expectations and was drafted this spring by the Minnesota Vikings.

Whiting FieldhouseStudent-Athlete Spotlight: Ichabods staying connected, focused after seasons canceled, classes moved online

From Athletics Spotlight - Spring 2020
Washburn student-athletes were preparing for competitions in March as leagues around the world were canceling because of COVID-19. The Ichabods went on as usual until they got the same heartbreaking news about their seasons. As it sunk in, they have been finding ways to finish classes and remain connected while looking ahead to brighter days.

Tommy and Lou OlsenSpecial Connections: As fans and donors, Olsens enjoy watching student-athletes grow, build careers

From Athletics Spotlight - Spring 2020
Lou Olsen has worked at Washburn for 36 years, spending all but two years in Human Resources. As supporters of Ichabod athletics, Lou and Tommy Olsen enjoy watching local athletes come to Washburn, have successful playing careers and return as employees or fellow donors and fans.

Larry and Lois DimmittLarry, jd ’68, and Lois Dimmitt: New plans excite alumnus, encourage gift to School of Law building fund

From Law Alumni Newsletter - Spring 2020
Larry Dimmitt, jd ’68, finished the last two years of his legal education taking classes in trailers. After graduating, he proudly watched a new law school building rise on a campus scourged by a tornado. Now, 50 years later, he and his wife, Lois, heartily made a $100,000 gift toward a new building that will meet the changing demands of legal education.

Tom Bayles and Lindsay BaylesBayles Family: Second-year Washburn Law student Lindsay Bayles guided by family advice

From Law Alumni Newsletter - Spring 2020
Lindsay Bayles’s family history at Washburn goes back two generations, but when she and her husband decided to study law, the decision to attend Washburn was not an automatic one. They ultimately decided on Washburn, the same school Lindsay’s father, Tom Bayles, mba ’94, jd ’97, chose, and her grandfather, James Bayles, taught law at.

Kate Langworthy at Highland gamesKate Langworthy: Scottish Highland games and agricultural law interest 1L

From Law Alumni Newsletter - Spring 2020
Like most things, Kate Langworthy’s success as a Scottish Highland games athlete is dictated by her amount of training. “Trying to juggle law school, motherhood, and life in general, sometimes training gets pushed to the wayside,” she said. “Just like in law school, if you're not putting in the time outside of class, it's going to translate to your outcome.”

More stories

The Ichabod magazine spring 2021

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2021 spring edition online and look for it in mailboxes in May.

View past editions


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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483