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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 Belltower.

Danielle HallTeaching and Mentoring: Danielle Hall, ba '06, jd '09, mentors students in free time, teaches industry practices at Kansas Bar Association 

From  Foundation Focus - Summer 2018
Danielle Hall finds herself teaching peers in her position with the Kansas Bar Association. In her free time, she teaches Washburn Law students in many of the same ways faculty and alumni mentored her as a student.

Indoor Athletics Facility renderingIndoor Athletics Facility: Washburn receives $1 million gift from Sunderland Foundation

Released June 11, 2018
The Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation is excited to announce a $1 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation to the new Indoor Athletics Facility at Washburn University.

Patricia JoyceFirst Among Equals: Patricia Joyce, bsn '77, merged life experiences into work on nursing faculty

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
When Patricia Joyce, bsn ’77, looked around her classes as a Washburn University student, she didn’t see anyone who resembled her, either in appearance or circumstances. Joyce graduated as Washburn's frist African-American in the nursing program and she went on to a 24-year career on the School of Nursing faculty, retiring this summer.

Brady Skeens and his parents Joy and AllenThe Son Also Rises: All-American Brady Skeens, bba '18, follows parents' lead to success

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
All-American Brady Skeens finished his Washburn career with 1,229 points. His mother, Joy Skeens, bs ’85, scored 1,356 career points in her Hall of Fame career. Joy and Allen Skeens raised their son with the emphasis that academics come before basketball.

Shari LaGrange-Aulich at the SAVE farmCultivating Change: Washburn Transformational Experience celebrates 10 years of success

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
Shari LaGrange-Aulich, ba '13, ma '16, and her dad, retired Col. Gary LaGrange, started SAVE farm to train veterans in a high-demand profession. LaGrange-Aulich found through a Washburn Transformational Experience trauma survivors experience positive growth through purposeful work like farming or beekeeping.

AllAlejandro Valarezo-American Journey: International athlete glad scholarships, supportive teammates led him to Washburn

From Athletics Spotlight - Summer 2018
Like two of his three older brothers, the chance for Alejandro Valarezo to play college tennis while getting an education in America won out over staying in his home country of Ecuador. He doesn’t regret the decision.

Crystal Leming at the Counseling Services centerCommunity of Help: Crystal Leming, ma '12, focuses on student wellbeing as director of Counseling Services

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
Crystal Leming, ms ’12, leads Washburn’s Counseling Services, which can have as many as 1,500 counseling sessions with students a year. She says more students are seeking treatment for mental health issues common while in college.

Chris Enos in front of Morgan HallServe and Protect: Chief Chris Enos, bs '16, WUPD committed to campus safety, student success

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
On a warm, sunny afternoon in March, the front door to the Washburn University Police Department was propped open, giving passersby a look in from the busy sidewalk outside Morgan Hall. That welcoming atmosphere is exactly what Chief Chris Enos, bs '16, wants from his department.

Brett Ash pitching for the TravelersGoing the Distance: Brett Ash, bba '14, looking to move up in Mariners organization

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
Brett Ash holds the Washburn record for quickest complete game and longest complete game. The former represents how he wishes every start went. The latter represents reality - hard work may take a while to pay off. Ash is now starting his fifth year in the minor leagues with the Seattle Mariner's Double-A team, and he's looking to make a jump to the majors.

Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris back on campusScientific Method: Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, bs '10, impressed with student work in return to Washburn

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
The closing remarks to a room of young scientists were an invitation to be innovative and unconventional. “Follow your next untried path. Do something wonky. Make sure you do what you’re hired to do, but start asking what if, how come and why.” Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, bs ’10, delivered those remarks in her return to campus this spring.

Savannah MooreBack with her Coach: Moore looking to add one more chapter to her storybook career

From Athletics Spotlight - Summer 2018
Infielder Savannah Moore, bba '18, found herself part of an historic season for the Ichabod softball team, collecting Washburn’s first regular season MIAA championship since 2002. She got to enjoy this feat under the leadership of second-year head coach Brenda Holaday – her former high school coach.

Danica PlanteGetting Back Home: Masons support scholarships to strengthen local communities

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
Danica Plante is a recipient of a scholarship from the Kansas Masonic Foundation, Inc., which over the years has steadily increased the number of scholarships it gives to Washburn students. She knows firsthand how important scholarships are to furthering her education and reaching her dreams.

Joe Perry at the Fourth Street Bridge mural projectPainting the Scene: How Joe Perry, aa '96, bs '97, created a blank canvas for change

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018
Lt. Joe Perry, aa ’96, bs ’97, is no artist. But that hasn’t stopped him from advocating for one of the largest community art projects Topeka has seen. The Topeka Mural Project paints murals in an attempt to abate property crimes and increase community pride. Perry, ARTSConnect and the community have placed 10 murals throughout Topeka.

Reagan PhelanThe Perfect Fit: Reagan Phelan finds perfect fit finding baskets at Washburn

From Athletics Spotlight - Winter 2017-18
Coming out of high school, Reagan Phelan, a sophomore guard on the women’s basketball team, knew wherever she decided to attend college, she wanted to get playing time as a freshman. Washburn University seemed to be the perfect fit.

Students at the High School Leadership AcademyHomegrown Leaders: High School Leadership Academy formed after community investment

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Excitement and pride were a common theme when a group of Shawnee County high school students experienced Topeka in a new way as the inaugural class of the Washburn University Leadership Institute’s High School Leadership Academy. A gift from the Topeka Community Foundation - aligning with their youth development initiative - made it happen.

David Overton treats a patient affected by Hurricane HarveyBig Hearts: Alumni in Texas helping with Hurricane Harvey relief

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Two Washburn alumni - David Overton, bsn '06, and Nick Woolery, bpa ’08 - were brought to Texas by their careers and they both found themselves in the heart of Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery. Both of them pulled experiences from Washburn to guide them. Overton volunteered as a nurse and Woolery works in city management in a Texas coastal city.

Alumni at Machu PicchuOne of Seven: Alumni, friends travel to Peru to visit Machu Picchu

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Checking one of the New Seven Wonders of the World off the bucket list was just one excuse for Marti Dittman, bba ’78, to visit Peru this past fall. The Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation traveled with a group of 27 in October to learn more about the culture and history of Peru.

WU Moves participant with a staff memberMaking Strides: Free wellness program helps seniors with exercising, healthy lifestyles

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
For most gym memberships, joining is the easy part. Finding the motivation to come back day after day is where it gets difficult. The opposite is true for WU Moves, a free wellness program at Washburn for low-income individuals. There’s a wait list just to get in, but once someone does, there’s little to no drop-off in attendance or participation.

The Pine Ridge Community Health Center opens in TopekaInnovative Model: School of Nursing focuses on community outreach, education at new clinic

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Faculty in the School of Nursing focus on teaching students the economics of health care and the importance of interprofessional practice. To address this, faculty members and community organizations developed a new clinic that serves the community and provides a place for students to practice what they are learning in the classroom.

Dr. Ryan TomlinsBack in the Game: Partnership with Stormont Vail brings alumnus into the action again

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Dr. Ryan Tomlins, bs ’03, grew up with a passion for sports and a desire to work in sports medicine. Thanks to a new partnership between Washburn University Athletics and Stormont Vail Health, he now has a major role in keeping Washburn student-athletes in top playing shape.

Lori Edwards teachingComing Full Circle: Faculty member, alumna Lori Edwards focuses on giving back to people in need

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Lori Edwards, bsn '88, dnp '17, was put in foster care at nine years old and was adopted when she was 14. She graduated high school and chose Washburn to focus on helping people who need a 'leg up' in life. That eventually led to multiple nursing degrees, and now she's a nursing faculty member and volunteer at the Pine Ridge Family Health Center.

Craig Hulse speaking at Washburn LawIn the Fast Lane: Washburn education led School of Law alumnus to career with Uber

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
Craig Hulse, jd ’15, wanted to attend law school in a capital city where he aspired to rub elbows with lawmakers and get firsthand experience in the legal side of lawmaking. After graduating with Washburn Law, he started a career with a little-known transporation company and is now public affairs manager for Uber Technologies, Inc.

Jacob KlemzPerfect Timing: Sophomore claims All-American honor, MIAA championship in program's second season

From The Ichabod - Winter 2018
In a sport where timing is everything, Washburn University couldn’t have picked a better year to start its cross country program. The formation of the Ichabods’ inaugural team coincided with the 2016 graduation of Hayden High School runner Jacob Klemz. As a result, Washburn is home to an All-American long-distance runner just two years into the program.

Brett Ballard in front of Lee ArenaBuilding Trust: Player buy in, alumni support important to Brett Ballard as he builds program

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Ballard’s career has always had a tie to the state of Kansas. He played two years at the University of Kansas, coached there and at Baker University, and was on the coaching staff of two of Jayhawk great Danny Manning's teams. He'll coach his first game as leader of the Washburn men's basketball team on Nov. 15 against familiar foe Baker.

Linda JeffreyResilient: Linda Jeffrey focuses on faith, community during challenging times

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Linda Jeffrey, ba ’74, jd ’77, has a theory about why she’s been blessed with loving friends, a supportive family and a fulfilling career. “I often say, ‘God loves you, but I’m his favorite.’ What other explanation can there be for the many opportunities to live, laugh, love and give back to my community I’ve been afforded?” Jeffrey said.

Archaeology dig in Meade County, KansasUncovering Kansas: Prehistoric findings on archaeological dig excite students, keep them busy

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Washburn students were halfway through the last day of a 10-day archaeological dig when Daniel Hougland’s trowel scraped against something that wasn’t soil. “I found a feature,” he said to his professor. “I don’t know what it is, just a piece of rock.” “Oh,” she says, as she looks in. “That’s kind of a big deal.”

John McConnellDedicated Mentor: John McConnell inspires passion for science in his Colorado community 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
It wasn’t until his late 20s that John McConnell, bs ’60, recognized his passion for science and the fulfilling work the subject could provide. McConnell has devoted his retirement to sharing his knowledge with children, ensuring they don’t have to wait until their 20s to open the doors that can be unlocked by an education in science.

Scott Curry-Sumner's ship in HollandUnconventional Life: Law graduate, LGBTQ rights activist buys pirate ship in Amsterdam 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Scott Curry-Sumner, jd '97, eventually found his way where he presides today, aboard a pirate ship-turned-houseboat docked on a river in Amsterdam, Holland. Living out a life he never would have predicted, Curry-Sumner is a father, an expatriate and the recent subject of a popular television show.

Dr. Tony WareRewarding Research: Ware devoted to improving length, quality of life through drug research 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
A doctor can save a patient’s life in a heartbeat, or devote hours to pharmaceutical research in hopes of finding a drug that can save thousands of lives. Dr. Tony Ware, bs ’74, has done both, and now he manages a team of researchers at Eli Lilly and Company. In every stage of his career since leaving Washburn – medical school, patient care, directing hospital staffs and research – he’s looked back to Washburn professors who made science come alive once he started on that path.

Allexis Menghini at the NCAA national track and field meetClearing the Bar: Competitive nature, desire to help others drive Menghini 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Menghini was the track and field team’s only female pole vaulter last year, the first year of track and field at Washburn since discontinuing it in the 1980s. She qualified for the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets and she’s looking forward to having some fellow vaulters on this year’s team with a new crop of recruits.

Ichabod Washburn tintypeFamily Ties: Graduates uncover connections to Ichabod Washburn 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
It’s been more than four decades since Carrie (Johnson) Rutherford, ba ’76, graduated from Washburn University, but it was this year she realized the impact Ichabod Washburn had on her life. She and her family where able to trace their family lineage back to Ichabod Washburn, and in the process they learned about the University's founding values.

Students from Topeka in ShanghaiBuilding Community: International Programs coordinates overseas trip for high schoolers 

From The Ichabod - Fall 2017
Helping students realize traveling around the world is a rewarding experience is central to what Washburn’s study abroad program does to help college students. “The earlier someone is exposed to international travel and learning, the more likely they are going to continue to do it,” said Baili Zhang, director, international programs at Washburn.

Lindsay FryeThe Prepared Nurse: Student reflections on impacts from the 150 Forward campaign

From 150 Forward Focus - Fall 2017
Lindsay Frye graduated from Washburn Tech's practical nursing program in 2017. She reflected on the benefits of the Regional Simulation Center. "I really feel like it helped to put into perspective things that I may come across during my future career," she said. "I have always been a better hands-on learner, and I feel like that prepared me to know how things work in those rooms a little better."

Miyuki NishimuraThe Artist: Student reflections on impacts from the 150 Forward campaign

From 150 Forward Focus - Fall 2017
Miyuiki Nishimura found inspiration in Rita Blitt's artwork that now has a permanent home on campus. She reflected on the work she did in research and collections as a student. "I felt that Washburn and Rita Blitt are in very close relationship and her works even give me a sense of closeness. I believe the new gallery will influence a lot of students as well as the community, and will give us many opportunities to think about the arts," she said.

Michael AbbottThe Rural Lawyer: Student reflections on impacts from the 150 Forward campaign

From 150 Forward Focus - Fall 2017
Michael Abbott participated in the Dane G. Hansen Rural Law Program and the reflected on his experiences in the externship, fully funded by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. "This has been one of the best experiences of law school. I have been able to access a huge quantity of wisdom while discovering northwest Kansas. I know I could not have afforded to move here for the summer if not for the Dane G. Hansen Foundation," he said.

From Cleats to Scrubs: Minnich Excelling as goalkeeper, nursing student
From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2017

Above Average: Ballentine successful as two-sport athlete, business student
From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2017

Building Washburn: Ferrells support growth of athletics, campus programs
From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2017

Washburn Pride: John Mcgivern, bba '83, gives back to program that boosted him
From Athletics Spotlight - Summer 2017

Crafting a Legacy: John Buckner still sharing his passions in retirement
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

A Charge for Change: Tawanna Black, ba '00, and her mission to make a lasting impact
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

Two Educations: Battling cancer as a student strengthened life's lessons for Stephanie Davies, b ed '16
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

Big-League Leadership: T.C. Broadnax, ba '91, took over as Dallas city manager in February
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

Roach Hill Downs: Tom Turpin, bs '65, takes a unique approach to the world of insects
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

A Coach for Life: Bob Chipman more than basketball coach to family, friends, players
From The Ichabod - Spring 2017

A Tradition that Stuck: Betty McEnroe Casper's pre-game tradition endures throughout Chipman's career
From Athletics Spotlight - Winter 2016-17

True Grit: Ichabod Success Institute honored as "Model of Excellence"
From The Ichabod - Winter 2016-17

World Champions: Three entrepreneurs join forces to win international business competition
From The Ichabod - Fall 2016

Motivated Through Hardships: WWA scholarship fulfills dream of college degree for Ashley Sumpter, bas '16
From Belltower - 2016

Putting in the Work: From walk-on to all-conference, Krane thankful for opportunities donors provide
From Athletics Spotlight - Summer 2017

Helping Others Succeed: Three-time All-American Sarah Vicory using fifth year to focus on future
From Athletics Spotlight - Summer 2017

Support and Guidance: Encouraging parents, athletics scholarships setting Skeens up for career in business
From Athletics Spotlight - Winter 2016-17

The Ichabod Spring 2018

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2017-18 spring edition online and look for it in mailboxes in late May.

View past editions


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1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604
Phone: 785.670.4483