Day of transformation displays student projects

The transformers Jerry Farley, Washburn president, takes a look at students’ projects they did for their Washburn Transformational Experiences last Friday. Around 20 students took part in presentations.

Brian Dulle / Washburn Review

For most college students, college is a truly transformational experience. A few Washburn students recently had a chance to exhibit those experiences.

Last Friday, about 20 Washburn students presented their Washburn Transformational Experience for the Day of Transformation at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.  For the WTE, a student can choose between four different categories which are leadership, scholarly/creative, community service and studying abroad.

International travel

Washburn student Kat Conoley had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam, France, Switzerland, Austria and then the city of Maastricht in Netherlands. She was also able to make several weekend trips to places such as London and Paris.

“I’m an anthropology major and I want to be an archeologist and the city of Maastricht is actually founded on the ruins of a Roman city which was a large part of why I wanted to go to Maastricht specifically,” said Conoley

Conoley said that her interest in studying abroad did not flourish until she was placed with a roommate in the Washburn Village who was from Austria and was studying abroad at Washburn.

“We became good friends and she said that I should come visit her and study at her university and it inspired me to want to study abroad,” said Conoley. “I spent the next year and a half talking to the business department about studying abroad, saving money, finding out information and when I was told you could do a WTE it was a good stepping stone to help me get there.”

Conoley said that it was the greatest thing that has happened in her life and the best decision she has ever made.

“I’ve grown so much and learned so much, I have made new friends and it really helped me figure out what I wanted to do and what kind of person I wanted to be and how to get there,” said Conoley.

The Free Store

Washburn student Vonnita Elliottt fulfilled the community service WTE by creating a free store in the Washburn Memorial Union that is opened the first two weeks of each semester. The store’s goal is to help single parents and low-income students coming back to college.

The idea came about in a communications class she took in the Fall of 2009 with Jim Schnoebelen, Washburn Assistant Director of Forensics. A group had to create an idea that would help the students at Washburn.

“Because I was a single mom at one time I wanted to give back,” said Elliottt.  “I know it is not easy being a single parent and a student going back to school and I thought this would help make it easier for those single parent students and low income students and make it easier for them to still be able to go to college.”

Elliott began working on the free store in the spring of 2010. She went through a long process of talking to the people in the Memorial Union to find a place to put the store and had to discuss how long it would be open. The store also had to be sponsored or a part of an organization, so it was put under the Human Services Coalition which she was president of. In spring of 2011 it became a reality.

“I just kept pushing and talking to people and got it all started,” said Elliott

Elliott said she was not planning on using the free store as her WTE.

“It wasn’t until Rick Ellis [WTE community services director] told me that I should use the free store as my WTE that I actually thought about it,” said Elliott.

Going back to give back

Washburn student Chris Seele’s project was titled “Going Back to Give Back” and went back to his hometown of Rossville, Kan. to help volunteer at a baseball diamond as an umpire and help out with children with developmental disabilities.

“Growing up I played some baseball and went to grade school there and I thought it would be a great idea to go back and help fix things up,” said Seele

Seele said umpiring was a unique experience umpiring because he had never done it before.

“People always assume it’s easy but, oh man, some of those parents were horrible,” said Seele.

Seele said when he first started working on his project it was required to do a WTE to graduate. But when he was half-way finished, he was told he did not have to do it anymore.

“I had so much fun doing it I wanted to finish it up,” said Seele.  “You learn a lot, especially working with mentally handicapped kids, you have to explain more to them and also you can’t expect them to get it the first time so it has helped me with patience and explaining things to them.”

All four WTE’s

Washburn student Erica Koepsel took the opportunity to complete all four sections of the WTE.  Through the Bonner Scholars Program she was able to do the community service project. Through the Leadership Institute, she completed the leadership section. Through her psychology major,  she was able to do the scholarly and creative section and this past fall semester she travelled to Nicaragua.

“It was a lot different than I expected, I thought it would be more of a service-oriented trip but it was actually more of a culture emergence trip,” said Koepsel.  “We did a lot of learning about some of the opportunities they have for community members, a lot about the revolution and how that changed it and our involvement in the revolution so that was a lot of an historical part.”

Koepsel and her group went to the rural part of Nicaragua and lived with a family for four days with no electricity, no running water and the family cooked for them.

“We had trouble talking to them because I am not fluent in Spanish by any means,” said Koepsel.  “We spent a couple of days out on an island in the middle of a lake, climbed a volcano and it was really just a huge adventure in general but a lot of learning about the culture.”

Koepsel always knew she wanted to study abroad.

“This was a great opportunity to do something different and travel to a country that most would not think to travel such as one in Europe,” said Koepsel.  “It was a trip you could certainly make a difference with.”