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For Alumni & Friends of the University of Kansas Honors Program  Fall 2015

Find Your Bold

Gabby Murnan Helps Welcome a New Generation of Honors Hawks to Campus “Find your bold,” Gabby Murnan, a KU Honors senior majoring in environmental studies and political science, said at the University Honors Convocation this August. Murnan had just been presented with the Kathleen McCluskeyFawcett Outstanding Contribution Award for 2015 by KU Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni. As the award’s 2015 recipient, her job was to inspire the next generation of KU leaders. Murnan was speaking to the incoming KU Honors class of 385 students, some of the best and brightest students in the state of Kansas, the U.S., and around the world. They were majoring in engineering and music, education and business, history and biology, and they came from Lawrence, Kansas; New York City; George Town, Malaysia; and beyond. But Murnan said that she didn’t necessarily start her KU career as an outstanding contributor to KU or University Honors. Hailing from Pittsburg, Kansas, she said that she relied on her “small-town girl shtick” in her first months at KU, not challenging herself, just

“coasting.” But that all changed after a sixweek study abroad trip to India that was funded in part by an Honors Opportunity Award. After a long, arduous day of climbing a mountain with her classmates—a group of peers that challenged and supported each other throughout the hike—she knew that she had “found her bold.” “My bold was a feeling of fearlessness in all aspects of my

life,” Murnan said in her speech. “My bold was taking chances for myself and for others.” Since that fateful trip to India, Murnan hasn’t stopped taking chances: she served as an Honors Freshman Seminar assistant, worked as the coordinator for the Environmental Studies Student Ambassadors and a student assistant in the KU Office of Public Affairs, and completed the Coro < Continued on page 6 >


From the Director

Dr. C. Bryan Young

scholarships; in the past year, we counted a Gates Cambridge Scholar, a Truman Scholar, two Udall Scholars, two Astronaut Foundation Scholars, and two Goldwater Scholars as members of University Honors.

This year has brought unprecedented national recognition to the University of Kansas Honors Program. We were one of only seven programs nationwide to be given a perfect score by “A Review of Fifty Public Honors Programs” in 2014. In August 2015, the program was named in a New York Times op-ed by Frank Bruni as a leading public university honors program (and healthy competition for Ivy League schools). Additionally, our students excelled in competition for national

While recognition is always welcome, our focus remains on ensuring that each student receives an excellent education, one that is personalized, thoughtful, adventurous, and challenging. To this end, our staff and faculty fellows have collaborated to develop a new curriculum for Fall 2016, one that we hope will push our students to think deeper and travel farther. This curriculum emphasizes experiential learning and engagement in a way that will help students tap into KU’s unique opportunities while encouraging them to grow holistically as scholars and leaders.

of alumni and friends like you to fund these experiences. Throughout this newsletter, you’ll read about students who have benefited from the Honors Opportunity Award Fund. Honors Opportunity Awards— funded entirely by donor gifts— have allowed our students to pursue transformative, out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities, including research, study abroad, service, and internships. At the bottom of the University Honors Program’s seal, you’ll find a phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid: “Sic itur ad astra,” or “Thus one goes to the stars.” We hope that you will use the enclosed envelope to contribute to the Honors Opportunity Award Fund and help send the next generation of KU leaders to the stars. 

But our students need the support


New Honors Staff

Ujash Patel 2

Assistant Director for Admissions

Ellie Eastes

Honors Admissions Representative

Experiencing Emergency Preparedness Abroad Meet Abby Schletzbaum Last April, Abby Schletzbaum got to experience her academic interests firsthand during a study abroad trip to Nepal. Schletzbaum was in Nepal in the Spring 2015 semester to learn more about emergency preparedness and management. As a sophomore majoring in public administration, global & international studies, and mathematics with a minor in geology, she was thrilled to find a study abroad program that would allow her to visit Nepal—a longtime interest of hers— while researching earthquake preparedness. What neither Schletzbaum nor her advisors was counting on was the major 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country on April 25. Like many other study abroad students visiting Nepal,

Photo University of Kansas/Marketing Communications/Kelsey Kimberlin

she was evacuated safely, though several weeks before the official end of her program. Before the earthquake hit, Schletzbaum had very much enjoyed her time abroad and her research. She says that “it was a huge disappointment to leave without saying goodbye or making a big contribution to the relief effort.” Back home, she worked with her study abroad colleagues to raise funds for the victims of the quake. Back on the Lawrence campus this fall, she has continued her academic work and still hopes to pursue a career in emergency management and international

humanitarian work. She has also continued her work with the Center for Community Outreach on campus (she serves as the organization’s Development Director) and funneled her previous fundraising work through Open World Cause, a student organization that raises funds to support education in Nepal. When speaking of the University Honors Program, she says that “My favorite part of the Honors Program is that they provide opportunities for me to develop holistically as a student. Many of my most meaningful classes and extracurricular sessions have been sponsored by KU Honors.” 

2016 University Scholars Congratulations!

Each year, twenty outstanding sophomores from across KU are selected as University Scholars. These Scholars receive a $250 scholarship for five semesters, a faculty mentor, and enrollment in a themed interdisciplinary seminar. This year’s seminar will focus on energy and be taught by Associate Professor of Geology Jennifer Roberts. The seminar will conclude in May 2016 with a camping field trip across the U.S. Great Plains and Mountain West region. • • • • • • •

Mario Balcazar Julia Balmaceda Bridgette Befort Sana Cheema Megan Hansen Sebastian Huayamares Alex Houston

• • • • • • •

Brianna Jackson Hannah Johnson Emmaline Lorenzo Mikaela Myers Marisa Mitchell Brook Nasseri Hanna Ritland

• • • • • •

Sandy Sanchez Madison Sargent Emma Tuschhoff Joseph Vincent Taylor Zabel Michael Zhou


KU Honors Competes with Ivy League Schools Meet Sandy Sanchez As a senior in high school, Sandy Sanchez faced a tough decision: accept a spot at Yale University, or stay in-state to join the University of Kansas Honors Program. According to Frank Bruni of the New York Times, Sanchez isn’t alone. In a recent op-ed, Bruni notes “a striking development” across the nation: public universities are expanding and strengthening their honors programs and colleges to compete with small private universities. Bruni notes that high-ability students like Sanchez are increasingly turning away from prestigious Ivy League schools in favor of public honors programs and colleges. These honors programs offer small class sizes, personalized advising, and a rigorous liberal arts education on par with those at private schools— but at a much smaller price tag. In Fall 2014, Sanchez enrolled as a freshman in the University of Kansas Honors Program, where she has been studying history and exploring second majors. “I definitely do not regret my decision to come to KU,” Sanchez


says. “I do not regret forgoing name for the financial security I will hopefully have in the future.” As an in-state student at KU, Sanchez’s degree will cost less than a third of an undergraduate degree at Yale and less than half the cost of the average private university. Sanchez’s savings of nearly $180,000 in student debt over four years is hard to beat. More importantly, Sanchez is happy with her decision academically. “The Honors Program has pushed me in all the right ways, ways that I believe I wouldn’t have experienced at any of the other schools I applied to,” she says. Bruni agrees that public honors programs can “provide a supportive, challenging haven to some gifted young men and women,” particularly those who want to avoid what he calls the “enclave of extreme privilege” that defines some private universities. According to Sanchez, a prestigious name is far less valuable than a supportive environment and the motivation to seek out opportunities.

“You can make your college experience whatever you wish,” Sanchez says. “The small, private, liberal arts education that I wanted so badly was in front of me the whole time. I am happy where I am and am thankful to be in the KU Honors Program.”  To read the original op-ed by Frank Bruni, visit http://www.nytimes. com/2015/08/09/opinion/sunday/ frank-bruni-a-prudent-collegepath.html.

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Recent Honors Internships

The University Honors curriculum requires students to participate in an Honors experience: an internship, research, an extended service project,or study abroad. Many of these Honors Experiences are funded by donors through Honors Opportunity Awards. These are a few highlights from this year’s internships.

Caleb Bobo, Department of Neighborhood Relations with the City of Topeka Senior, Major Political Science, Minor African American Studies

“With the City of Topeka, I worked in the Department of Neighborhood Relations—a branch of the City that reports to the City Manager. My department was responsible for the administration of several different social services. I worked under the Community Engagement Division Director who sought to build new, and maintain established, relationships with public and private sector entities. The experience exposed me to almost everything a career in city government has to offer. I helped with City Council and community policing meetings, led community events, and much more.”

Jeff Kraus, Space Communications and Navigation Program at NASA Glenn Research Center Senior, Major Computer Engineering, Minor Mathematics

“I worked in NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program for the development and evolution of our space communications infrastructure. My team built a capacity modeling system that could simulate the performance and characteristics of NASA’s Near Earth and Space Networks. This model is intended to facilitate the maintenance and expansion of NASA’s space assets, especially in consideration of future mission requirements. My team’s research abstract was selected for a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Jerusalem, Israel.

Molly Bernard, Fox News in New York City

Senior, Major Atmospheric Science, Minor Mathematics “This summer I was able to work closely with the meteorology team at Fox News. I spent most days shadowing Maria Molina. I helped her with her research, created and edited graphics that were used on national TV, and was able to spend time practicing in front of the green screen. My favorite part, and also the most nerve-racking, was when I went on live TV my last day on the job. I spent about 30 seconds explaining the national forecast for the day ahead on Fox and Friends.”

Miguel Angel Calderon, 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France Senior, Major Visual Arts

“I was an intern at Princ Films, a film sales agency, during the 68th Cannes Film festival, the most important film festival in the world. I had this opportunity through the Creative Minds Group, an organization that helps young people who aspire to get into the film industry. At my internship I did mainly logistical work: setting up meetings, introducing buyers and filmmakers to the president of the company, answering phone calls, and other errands. I made connections and met wonderful people that I think may help me in the future.”

Jake Doerr, Coro Kansas City

Senior, Major History, Minor Public Policy

“The Coro program prepares its participants for positions in civic leadership. This summer, I worked at four different placements in the non-profit, government, business, and labor sectors. I also collaborated with the eleven other Coro interns on a service project in Rosedale, Kansas. The most important thing that my experience with Coro gave me was a diversity of perspectives. Learning from different stakeholders in the Kansas City area taught me how important building consensus is for community leaders.”


Alumna at Large

Meet Julia Groeblacher

Julia Groeblacher may have graduated five short years ago, but she has already attended Harvard and served as a Foreign Service officer in two different countries. After being named a Pickering Fellow while at KU—an honor for students interested in careers in Foreign Service—and graduating with a triple major in political science, economics, and international studies with a minor in Arabic, Groeblacher began her post-graduate journey. “The KU Honors Program really prepared me to take the next steps in my education and career,” said Groeblacher during a presentation to Honors students this fall. As a Pickering Fellow, Groeblacher attended the Harvard Kennedy School and earned a Master’s in Public Policy. She subsequently began her tenure with the U.S. State department in 2010 as a Foreign Service officer in Syria. However, political events and violence in the country forced Groeblacher to work from Washington D.C. as a specialist


on events occurring in Syria. During this time, she crafted memos specifically for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and conducted daily correspondence with Congress, constituents, the Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem.

Tell us what you’ve been up to! Share your Honors story at Share-Your-Story.

After serving just under two years as a Foreign Service officer for Syria, Groeblacher was sent to Moscow, Russia for her second assignment where she worked toward LGBT rights in Russia.

Internship in Public Affairs in Kansas City. (She also wrote several pieces in this newsletter as an Honors Student Intern!)

While addressing her audience of Honors students, Groeblacher pointed out why she enjoys working for the U.S. State Department. “Working for the State Department is an opportunity to be a part of a federal agency that is still idealistic. We believe that talking can solve big problems between nations,” said Groeblacher. Groeblacher is currently working in Baghdad, Iraq, and her next assignment will be in Beirut, Lebanon. 

< Find Your Bold, continued from page 1 >

After Murnan’s speech, the 385 newest members of the Honors Jayhawk family took part in the Rock Chalk chant and followed her up Mount Oread, mirroring the path they will walk down the hill on graduation day 2019. Before they walked, Murnan reminded them that “You have one purpose at this university— to find your bold, whatever that looks like for you. Once you find this bold, use it. Use it to serve others. Use it to start conversations. Use it to make change. Let the University of Kansas Honors Program help you find it.” 

KU Honors Staff

Honors Program Advisory Board Chair, Jeff Handlin Membership

Director C. Bryan Young Associate Director, Curricular, Co-Curricular, and Engaged Learning Anne Dotter Assistant Director, National Scholarships and Fellowships Anne Wallen Assistant Director, Advising, New Student Orientation, and Completion Ed Healy Assistant Director, Admissions Ujash Patel Coordinator for Student Engagement Lesley Owens

 Matt All

David Lambertson

Ann Blessing

Aroop Pal

Paul Carttar

Benedict Palen

Amy Coopman

Chris Reedy

Steven Frazier

Delbert Shankel

John Mark Hansen

Michael Wade Smith

David Johnson

Jeffrey Stowell

Mary Klayder

Brad Sweeney

Laura Koenigs

Sarah Warner


an Honors Student’s Education

Honors Admissions Representative Ellie Eastes Emeritus Faculty and Internship Advisor Kala M. Stroup Emeritus Faculty and Development Advisor Jeff Weinberg Faculty Fellows Perry Alexander, Philip Baringer, Mikhail Barybin, Tim Jackson, Mary Klayder, Jennifer Roberts Administrative Associate Jen Jedlicka Administrative Associate Beth Kelley

Give to the Honors Opportunity Award Fund. Honors experiential learning can be the spark that ignites a student’s passion and life’s work. Honors students rely on donor contributions to fund these transformative experiences. You can help the next generation of Honors leaders discover their ambitions by contributing to the Honors Opportunity Award Fund. Since Fall 2012, 569 Honors students have benefited from Opportunity Awards, receiving $369,000 in support from donors like you. You can use the enclosed envelope to mail your gift to the Fund, or contribute to our crowdfunding campaign at

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The University of Kansas University Honors Program 1506 Engel Road Lawrence, KS 66045

Mission of the

University of Kansas Honors Program

The goal of the University Honors Program is to challenge our students to launch extraordinary lives. We do this by providing exceptional classes, advising, and enrichment opportunities to the most academically talented undergraduates at the University of Kansas. From convocation to commencement, we strive to foster a transformational community of critical thinkers, a community that is diverse, highly qualified, engaged, and motivated to lead.

You can make a transformative difference in the lives of KUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Honors students.

To play your part in maintaining a program that is one of the best in the nation, contact Jenna Goodman at or call (785) 832-7417. 8

Editor, Designer, & Contributor: Lesley Owens Honors Student Intern & Contributor: Gabby Murnan

The Honoread 2015  

The annual print newsletter for alumni and friends of the University of Kansas Honors Program.

The Honoread 2015  

The annual print newsletter for alumni and friends of the University of Kansas Honors Program.