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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.

Be the voice, voter registration formDriving Discussions: Anniversaries of voting amendments will draw focus on citizenship, suffrage

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
In an election year, census year and year that celebrates milestone anniversaries of the right to vote in the United States, the theme of this year’s WUmester, citizenship and suffrage, is not only timely, but important. Washburn University will make the topic prevalent in many of its courses and events this spring semester.

Maya Angelou's portrait in "I Dream a World"Stunning Collection: Mulvane acquires photos from Pulitzer Prize winner’s book

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
The oldest art museum in Kansas celebrated its 95th birthday with a special announcement of its acquisition of Brian Lanker’s photographs from his book “I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” The exhibition and book presents an African American female view of the world, accompanied by the critically-acclaimed portraits.

Marian McGaw WellhouseFighting Words: Washburn alumna active in national suffrage work prior to 1920 amendment

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
The words and actions of a Washburn alumna more than 100 years ago helped fuel the national fight for women to vote. Marian (McGaw) Wellhouse, ba 1911, moved to the east coast prior to adoption of the 19th Amendment. She marched at the White House, met with Congressmen and had her words published, becoming part of the collective voice.

Voter registration driveParty Lines: Bi-partisan efforts better equip students for citizenship roles

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
In a country that seems more politically divided than ever, Washburn students from opposing sides of the political spectrum have united with a common goal. Members of the Washburn College Democrats and College Republicans organizations teamed up in the fall to encourage fellow classmates to register.

Nashville Public Library director Kent Oliver, ba '77Celebrating Suffrage: Alumnus brings awareness, access to roles of citizenship

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
One hundred years ago sounds like a long time, but the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote is just as significant today. At Nashville Public Library, director and Washburn University alumnus Kent Oliver, ba ’77, is honoring this critical component of democracy by spearheading a multimedia experience celebrating the amendment.

Faculty members Alexandra Klales (left) and Ashley Maxwell lead the Washburn University Forensic Anthropology Recovery Unit. Washburn is one of only five U.S. schools to allow undergraduate students to do active forensic casework. Active Investigators: Forensic anthropology students get an edge with crime-scene casework

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020
Law enforcement agencies have surveyed the scene and need help identifying human remains. Everything the forensic anthropology students learned will now be put to work. This is no longer an exercise in the dig site outside the KBI lab on campus. This is an active investigation and the beginning of a recovery process hopefully bringing closure and justice.

Alumnus Paul Brady posing with wife and guests at BvB 65th anniversary celebrationIdeal Connections: School of Law has been training grounds for many fighting for civil rights

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Washburn Law remains the ideal place to impact the world through a legal education. The impact may best be seen in the roles Washburn-trained lawyers played in the landmark Brown v. Board case ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Washburn hosted a celebration of the 1954 decision with a banquet on the 65th anniversary earlier this year.

Students from Ichabods Moving ForwardMoving Forward: Student group raising funds to benefit other students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Ichabods Moving Forward is a student-led organization that raises money for an emergency fund to help recipients get through one-time financial emergencies when all other resources have been exhausted. The group is in its third year and began awarding grants last year, including one that helped a student land a dream job.

Tish Graham in the newsroomNever Say No: Tish Graham, ba '80, and her passion shatter glass ceiling in broadcast technology

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
“I once drove a live truck through a forest fire in the mountains of Central California to get video back.” Tish Graham (Nelson) is never one to shy away from a challenge. In fact, Graham believes her motto of “never saying no” is what got her to where she is today – serving as ABC Owned Television Stations VP of broadcast technology.

Greg BrennemanPlan of Action: Former CEO Greg Brenneman, bba '84, h '99, focuses on big-picture outcomes in life and business

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
“What are your eulogy virtues, not just your resume virtues? What do you want someone to say at your funeral? I suggest people use the five Fs – faith, family, friends, fitness and finance."

Corey Ballentine with the GiantsGiant Steps: Fallen friend motivating Corey Ballentine, als '19, in journey to make NFL roster

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Corey Ballentine has spent his life overcoming hurdles on his path to the NFL. Hours after his dream was realized with a selection by the New York Giants, the day that was supposed to be his happiest was marred by a shooting that killed his best friend and Washburn teammate. He's worked this summer to overcome that and secure a roster spot.

Dwane Simmons playing footballSpirit of a Warrior: Washburn remembering a life cut short by senseless tragedy

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Football Coach Craig Schurig said part of the team's focus this season will be on remembering and honoring fallen teammate Dwane Simmons. “You can see his closeness to others, not just Washburn football, but Washburn Athletics and the University as a whole. We’d like to have his legacy be as strong as possible.”

Kristi and Brendan Sneegas in front of an airplane at downtown Kansas City airportLove Takes Flight: Kristi, bsn ’92, and Brendan, bsw ’92, Sneegas providing compassion in their careers

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Kristi and Brenden Sneegas have shared a life of compassion toward others since meeting at Washburn. Brendan works for Angel Flight Central, which arranges charitable medical flights for people in need, and Kristi is a registered nurse with Pentec Health treating patients with chronic pain and spasticity disorders.

Richard Ross and Steve Hornbaker in DenmarkTreated Like Family: Richard Ross, ba ’71, jd ’75, and the Honorable Steve Hornbaker, ba ’70, jd ’73, commemorate 50 years since semester in Denmark

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Richard Ross remembers persuading his parents to let him spend a semester in Denmark while a student at Washburn. “I was wanting to convince my parents this trip was a good idea and I ran across a quote: ‘Travel teaches toleration.’ I have never forgotten that quote."

Jacob WamegoAge of Leadership: Jacob Wamego, bs '07, connecting his Washburn service to Prairie Band tribal citizens

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
As a Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation tribal citizen, Jacob Wamego has lived his whole life on the reservation, so he understands the needs of the community. Having succeeded in a leadership role, he is now trying to give back and help the next generation of tribal citizens. A growing part of this outreach includes becoming more involved with Washburn.

The Wiechert FamilyAbove and Beyond: Four generations strong, Wiecherts still amazed by Washburn experience

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
A warm welcome that included brushing mortar off a dusty couch weeks after the 1966 tornado was enough to convince Stan Wiechert that Washburn was the place for him. Since then, 11 family members, spread across four generations, have enrolled at Washburn. 

People watching a film at WIFI Film FestivalBehind the Scenes: Mass media department’s debut film festival considered a huge hit

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
When Washburn University’s mass media department decided to launch its first film festival, Matthew Nyquist worried they wouldn’t get enough entries for a successful festival. After all, there were less than six months between its inception and the actual event. Leave it to the filmmakers to provide a happy ending.

James Barraclough and Paul Mismaque in the libraryFirst-year Focus: Washburn earns national recognition for student mentoring

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
When Paul Mismaque came to the United States from France, Washburn's Center for Student Success and Retention gave him the resources he needed to succeed. Now he's helping new first-year students as a senior peer educator. The program was recently awarded for its work with student mentoring.

Mike RacyBalanced Approach: Washburn education propelled career for MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy, bba '87

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019
Mike Racy got his start at Washburn where the small setting made him feel he could make a difference. He has since built similar opportunities as commissioner of the MIAA, Washburn's athletic conference since 1989. He talked this summer about changes in the MIAA and what excites him about the balanced experience student-athletes get.

DL and Suzy SmithGiving a Spark: Retired electrical contractor and wife supporting scholarships, illuminating athletics

From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2019
DL and Suzy Smith are proud to support Washburn student-athletes and enhance the visibility and pride Washburn Athletics brings. "Supporting athletics is one effective way we could advocate for the University and try to enhance what they can provide for generations to come to young folks getting higher education."

Jeremy LuckSmart Investment: Hard work paying off for finance major, offensive lineman Luck

From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2019
The study of finance and money interests Jeremy Luck. When reflecting on what donors and Ichabod fans have done for him, he’s glad they choose to invest in Washburn University. Their generosity has helped provide the junior offensive lineman with both athletic and academic scholarships.

Kelsey GordonMagical Experience: Donors enhancing all aspects of the student-athlete experience for Kelsey Gordon

From Athletics Spotlight - Fall 2019
Kelsey Gordon knows the power of education. She knows the importance of the biology degree she is seeking. And she knows the benefits of growing together as a student-athlete and a teammate on the Washburn volleyball team. She’s grateful for the donors and fans who support her academic and athletic endeavors.

School of Law rural law story - buildingRural Kansas: Continued investment in rural legal program

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019
The School of Law has been offering a robust summer externship program as part of its Rural Law Program since 2017 thanks to a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. The goal of the program is to provide students opportunities to experience life and practice law in a rural community, as well as to interest them in pursuing careers in rural Kansas.

Rosemary MenningerPassions Drive Philanthropy: Work, community service provide ideas to support for Rosemary Menninger, ba  '84, bfa '85

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019
The visions of many others have helped Rosemary Menninger shape her careers, her community involvement and philanthropic efforts. Along the way, gifts she has made to Washburn have been made with intention and her belief in the power of the programs.

Gary and Mary EisenbarthSupporting Scholarships: Great faculty inspires giving for Gary, ba '69, and Mary Eisenbarth

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019
Gary Eisenbarth grew up in Topeka and chose Washburn because it was affordable – he could go to school and still live with his parents. He and his wife, Mary, met in high school and came to Washburn together. Inspired by the work faculty do to support today's students, they created the Gary and Mary Eisenbarth Business Scholarship Fund.

Finnup FoundationFinnup Foundation: Providing opportunities for Southwest Kansas

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019
Sharing opportunities with Garden City and the southwest Kansas communities has been at the heart of the Finnup family and the Finnup Foundation for more than a century. A generous annual gift from the Foundation goes toward scholarships for Washburn students who have graduated from Foundation's the surrounding area.

Washburn campusTransformational Experience: Bob Meinershagen, ba '63, providing funds to change lives

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019
Bob Meinershagen had a lot of trust in faculty members while a student at Washburn, and his relationship with the biology department today is no different. He and his wife established the Robert E. and Helen L. Meinershagen Excellence in Biology Fund and they continue to support the fund every year with a generous gift.

James ConcannonLegendary Faculty: James Concannon reflects on almost 50 years of service to Washburn Law

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
It has been Concannon’s relationships with people, and his legendary stories, that have carried him through the decades and made him an iconic figure of Washburn Law for almost 50 years. He started as an adjunct professor in 1972, served as dean from 1988-2001 and continues to teach and shape lives.

Washburn Law student on a computerThird Year Anywhere: Program will prepare students to practice in the substantive and geographic area they want

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
The School of Law has always had a global focus, but third-year law students will now get the opportunity to experience the type of law they want to practice in the geographic location they want to be. Alumni are invited to mentor students within this exciting program. 

Teri Wood receiving her honorary degreeHonorary Degree: Teri Wilford Wood, jd '78, continues to hone expertise on international employment law

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
Teri Wilford Wood loves a good challenge – the kind of legal conundrum that requires research, problem-solving, and relationships. Working in international employment law for more than two decades, Wood has distinguished herself as a top professional. She recently received an honorary degree from Washburn to recognize her work.

Karla Jones-WilsonMaking Old New Again: Karla Jones-Wilson, jd '03, works to acquire and restore historic properties

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
Not one to sit idly by, Karla Jones-Wilson is always looking for the next investment in her future. She serves as general counsel and CLO for Foutch Brothers, LLC where she assists with the complexities of using historic tax credits and other public financing incentives to acquire and restore historic properties worth more than $275 million.

Tom WarnerLeading the Best: Midwest trial lawyer associations are led by Washburn Law graduates

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
Trial lawyer associations in Kansas, Missouri and Colorado are led by School of Law graduates. “What we try to do as trial lawyers is give a voice to people who wouldn’t otherwise have a voice,” Tom Warner, jd '84, said. “Without being represented by a trial lawyer, a plaintiff is likely not going to be successful.”

Jennifer SalvaSeasoned Advocate: Pageant participant Jennifer Salva, jd '19, knows her experience will be important as she begins legal career

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
From pageants and disability advocacy to the Slovak Republic and back again, School of Law student Jennifer Salva’s career path has been anything but typical. Various aspects of her unique background will continue to inspire her work as an attorney.

Les PicoFocus After Football: Les Pico, jd '92, guides NFL players through trappings of fame

From Washburn Lawyer - Spring 2019
During his 15-year career working with NFL players, Les Pico has gotten good at busting stereotypes. One misconception he encounters quite often: Not every football player is a millionaire. Still, that doesn’t stop family and friends from hitting them up for cash, which can be stressful for a new professional athlete. That’s where Pico comes in.

Sheila KjellbergLife Spark: Welding education gives Sheila Kjellberg, certificate '17, foundation for career, leadership

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
“I was at a point where I needed to make more money,” Sheila Kjellberg said. “I started looking at programs, and I thought I’d always wanted to learn to weld. I looked at the job placement rate and realized I could make a decent living and have a skill that nobody can take away from me. So, I moved to Topeka and decided I would become a welder.”

Barry FeakerOn a Mission: Barry Feaker, ba '80, h '13, tackles challenges leading homeless shelter

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Barry Feaker walked into his first day on the job as director of the Topeka Rescue Mission. About 2 p.m., he got his first phone call. The caller said a drunk man with his pants around his ankles was walking toward the mission, and Feaker needed to take care of it. Soon after, he learned an important lesson that still guides him today.

Dancing Blues Coach Angie Price and her familyStepping Up: Angie Price, aa ’88, aa ’89, b music ’89, coaching Dancing Blues to recent success

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Angie Price sat at the top of the arena at a national dance competition and listened to the results. The coach was optimistic but still ready to console the Dancing Blues after another year of disappointment. Instead, she got to celebrate with them as they won their first national championship in 2013. They have now won championships in five seasons.

Brett Durbin in a trash mountain communityTrash Mountain: Brett Durbin, bs '03, mcj '05, works internationally to defeat extreme poverty

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Brett Durbin and his wife felt a call to serve others after graduating. A friend introduced him to the concept of a trash dump community – a group of people who live on and dig through landfills in search of food or items to sell. Durbin knew he needed to travel to Honduras to see the situation for himself. Soon after, they created the Trash Mountain Project.

Richetta Manager, ba '75, is a world-renowned singer who performed at White Concert Hall as a Washburn studentBeautiful Music: White Concert Hall celebrates 50 years of providing students, community amazing venue

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Opera singer Richetta Manager, ba ’75, has performed in concert halls around the world – Cologne Opera in Germany, Royal Festival Hall in London, Vienna Concert Hall in Austria. But she still counts White Concert Hall among her favorite venues. The building turned 50 years old this school year and is still part of the cultural hub for the arts in the community.

Linda Dishman celebrates with studentsHead of the Class: Lifelong learner Linda Dishman, b ed '12, receives Milken Educator Award

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Linda Dishman received the surprise of a lifetime last fall when she won a Milken Educator Award at a school assembly. The fifth-grade teacher at Berryton Elementary in Topeka, Kansas, was the nation’s first 2018-19 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

Stephen Jeffery on the Tahoe Rim Trail before his 80th birthdayUphill Battle: Stephen Jeffery, ba '63, completes Tahoe Rim Trail before 80th birthday

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
While sitting on a beach with his family in Hawaii, Stephen Jeffery decided his next destination would be Lake Tahoe. As his milestone 80th birthday approached, Jeffery set a goal not just to walk the lake’s shores, but to hike the perimeter. All of it – and from a high enough elevation that wildfire smoke billowing below would sometimes block his lake view.

Washburn women's tennis with the 2019 MIAA trophyUnbeatable: Ichabods win first MIAA tennis title since 2012 with undefeated conference season

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
“I knew we had a lot of talent,” Coach Lance Lysaught said. “But we were going into the MIAA season with teams in the top 10 and top 20. It’s loaded." A strong lineup helped the Ichabods go undefeated in the MIAA and win their first title since 2012 and the first of Lysaught's career. “All the sudden it sneaks up on you and you get one. So, it’s pretty cool.”

Dale AndersonCareer Ichabods: Faculty and staff remain connected after decades-long careers

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
The tornado of 1966 destroyed a large portion of Washburn University, ushering in physical changes that are still seen today and will be around for a long time. Perhaps more longstanding, though, are the effects faculty and staff at the time had on campus and still have as engaged retirees.

Eric Showalter stands next to a Recycled Rides car that was later donatedGiving a Lift: Washburn Tech's Recycled Rides drives an impact that goes on for miles

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
If you’ve never had to worry about where your next ride will come from, it can be easy to take transportation for granted. For many, however, getting a lift can mean the difference between getting a paycheck or going hungry. The Recycled Rides program is making a difference by repairing donated vehicles to give reliable transportation to someone in need.

Monica ScheibmeirGrateful Service: Scheibmeir retiring after 10 years of thoughtful, passionate leadership

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
One word comes to mind when Monica Scheibmeir, dean, Washburn University School of Nursing, thinks about retirement. Grateful. With a nod to supportive alumni, co-workers and the leaders who came before her, Scheibmeir will step down this summer after 10 years leading the School of Nursing.

Clark CocoDignified Work: Coco retiring after career of educating, empowering students

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
After a career of transforming students, Clark Coco will retire this summer after seven years as dean of Washburn University Institute of Technology. Meeting workforce needs, he’s partnered with industry and community leaders to create five national training centers, Washburn Tech East and new career programs.

The Washburn College BibleWashburn College Bible: Work by Bradbury Thompson, b '34, h '65, still source of pride for alumni 40 years later

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019
Award-winning graphic artist Bradbury Thompson put his mark on one of history’s first printed works with his own design of the Bible in 1979. Forty years later, it is still an important part of Washburn University’s story. Unique because of its typography and striking artwork, the work was well reviewed by national publications.

Spigarelli family, Kala, Fred and AngelaFamily Practice: Spigarelli sisters follow father's footsteps at family law firm

From Washburn Law Alumni Newsletter - Fall 2018
Fred Spigarelli, jd ’70, started a solo practice in Pittsburg, Kansas, right after graduating. Through the years, several other lawyers have worked with him, and now it’s his two daughters, Kala Spigarelli, jd '90, and Angela Spigarelli, jd '98, who are practicing beside him at The Spigarelli Law Firm.

Bob Dole statueService to All: Bob Dole, ba '52, jd '52, h '69, h '85, displays humility, humor, tears as statue unveiled

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
A bronze statue of Sen. Bob Dole was unveiled Sept. 28, 2018, in front of more than 250 people who applauded his statesmanship and valor throughout his military and congressional career. Dole served the state of Kansas in congress for 35 years and was the Republican nominee for president in 1996.

2018 volleyball teamA Wish Come True: NCAA Championships Festival builds winners on and off court

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
The Ichabods won the NCAA Division II Central Region volleyball championship and advanced to the NCAA Championships Festival where they met 3-year-old Madison through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The experience was a life-changer for all involved, and two freshmen are excited about what the future will bring for the team.

Mallory LutzHigh School Ichabods: Concurrent enrollment lets high schoolers take college courses at half price

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
Mallory Lutz, ba '18, graduated from Washburn in three years after taking advantage of CEP classes in high school. Students taking at least one CEP course through Washburn increased 53 percent in the last six years, and many students are able to take advantage of the program like Lutz did.

France HoangApplied Service: Lessons from online learning still important to France Hoang, mcl '00

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
France Hoang, mcj ’00, has served deployments in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. He was stationed at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas when he earned his Washburn degree. At the time, he was pleased with how many lessons from class could be applied instantaneously. Even more important is how many remain with him today.

Jay Hurst at the zooGiraffe Chatter: Alumni team up to bring new digital content to KTWU, Topeka Zoo

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
People all over the world watched the live births of giraffes Konza and Elizabeth on a YouTube channel built by a partnership between KTWU and the Topeka zoo. The channel has produced more than 5 million total video views. Both organizations are excited about the awareness the exposure can bring.

Aaron MartinComposition Layers: Aaron Martin, b music '05, ba '05, communicates emotion in any context with music

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
Aaron Martin's global approach to writing music produces a unique sound that can bring out emotions in any context; like a banjo conveying the feelings movie watchers experience as a Hasidic Jewish widower struggles with raising his son. He did just that when he co-wrote the score to 2017 film Menashe.

Alicia MowderFor the Love of Food: Alicia Mowder, ba '08, shapes food world with new products, branding

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
Alicia Mowder lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the senior director of marketing for Circle K, the largest convenience store company in the world. She previously worked as senior brand director at Sonic Drive-In where she was responsible for promotions such as boneless wings, the $5 Boom Box, and the Sonic Slinger.

Darrell RodenbaughStaging a Comeback: Washburn lessons help Darrell Rodenbaugh, bba '86, grow Texas theater

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
When Darrell Rodenbaugh started volunteering with North Texas Performing Arts, the children’s theater organization was in serious financial trouble and appeared months away from closing. Since then, he's used skills learned in Greek life and student government - skills that launched a successful tech career - to grow the theater.

Marti GravesKeep Going: Marti Graves, ba '85, proves learning is a life-long adventure

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
Marti (Newell) Graves has always had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. So much so, that during the 23-year period from 1962 to 1985, she was almost always a student at Washburn University. Work and family life played a role in the lengthy enrollment, but Graves always found a way to take classes.

Patty DickFrom the Ground Up: Women’s sports at Washburn celebrate 50 years

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
Former basketball coach Patty Dick wants current athletes to reflect on how far collegiate women’s sports has progressed since beginning more than 50 years ago. “I’m so proud of the women they have become,” Dick said of her former student-athletes. “It was worth all of the battles.”

Two IchadogsFetching Fans: IchaDogs show passion for Washburn with social media support

From The Ichabod - Winter 2019
A new breed of Washburn sports fans has emerged on social media in the form of IchaDogs, a group of dedicated pups who enjoy pulling for the blue and white just as much as their owners. Of course, IchaDogs are up to date on their meds, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go viral.

More stories

Marching band member in uniform on cover of The Ichabod winter 2020

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2019-20 winter edition online and look for it in mailboxes in January.

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Topeka, KS 66604
Phone: 785.670.4483