Alumni Association honors eight K-State students for excellence 

K-State Alumni Communications

Recipients of the Anderson Senior Awards, Graduate Student Awards and Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Awards accept their plaques at a luncheon April 21. From left: Sydney Webb, Rebecca Jenkins, Chance Lee, Stephanie Kurti, Justice Davis, Amanda Fairbanks, Stephanie Plaschka and R. Luke Schnefke. (Photo: David Mayes '96)

Eight graduating Kansas State University students have been recognized by the K-State Alumni Association for outstanding achievements during their college careers. Amy Button Renz '76, '86, Alumni Association president and CEO, recognized the students during an awards luncheon April 21 at the K-State Alumni Center.

Awards presented were the Anderson Senior Awards, Graduate Student Awards and Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Awards. Faculty and peers nominate students for these awards, and committees consisting of members of the Alumni Association board of directors and K-State students select the recipients.

“These exceptional students have made a significant impact on the K-State community during their academic pursuits,” said Michelle Elkins '87, associate director of awards and special events for the Alumni Association. “We are thrilled to soon call them K-State alumni.”

 Anderson Senior Award

Four upcoming graduates earned the Anderson Senior Award, which recognizes graduating seniors for academics, leadership, inspiration and service. The award was established in 1998 and pays tribute to K-State’s second president, John Anderson, who served from 1873 to 1879. 

Justice Davis, bachelor’s candidate in marketing, Kansas City, Missouri, Anderson Senior Award for Outstanding Leadership. Davis served as president of K-State’s Black Student Union and as the chair of the Big 12 Council on Black Student Government. She is a member of Student Alumni Board and Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Stephanie Plaschka, bachelor’s candidate in family studies and human services, Moran, Kansas, Anderson Senior Award for Outstanding Inspiration. Plaschka is a nontraditional student attending K-State Global Campus. She is successfully completing her degree while working full time and caring for a family of five children. Plaschka is a role model for adult learners completing a degree through distance education.

R. Luke Schnefke, bachelor’s candidate in mechanical engineering, Shawnee, Kansas, Anderson Award for Outstanding Service. Schnefke was the co-chair of the K-State Proud campaign, a student philanthropy raising funds for students. He is a member and president of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, Student Alumni Board and Blue Key Senior Honor Society.

Sydney Webb, bachelor’s candidate in psychological sciences, Topeka, Kansas, Anderson Award for Outstanding Academics. Webb was an ambassador of the K-State Staley School of Leadership Studies and chief education officer of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Her contributions as a researcher went far beyond the expectations of an undergraduate research collaborator.

 Graduate Student Award

The Alumni Association also recognized two graduate students with its Graduate Student Award, which was established in 2010. The award recognizes outstanding graduate students for academics, service and leadership.

Amanda Fairbanks, doctoral candidate in student affairs in higher education, Hesston, Kansas, Graduate Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service. Fairbanks was a member of the Graduate Student Council and served as the president of the council and the chair of the professional development committee.

Stephanie Kurti, doctoral candidate in kinesiology, Naperville, Illinois, Graduate Award for Outstanding Academics. Kurti’s research has focused on the impact diet and exercise have on the body’s airways. She is gaining prominence in this field by collaborating with experts at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston. 

 Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Award 

Two students also were presented with the Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Award at the ceremony. The award was established in honor of the late K-State professor Tony Jurich, who taught in the College of Human Ecology for more than 39 years before his death in 2010. It recognizes both graduate and undergraduate students who have demonstrated a commitment to community leadership and service through Jurich’s core leadership tenets.

Chance Lee, doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction, Manhattan, Kansas, Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Award. Lee worked with a local food bank by connecting his theories of nonprofit leadership course with local efforts. He is a member of Manhattan’s Citizen’s Academy, an effort by Manhattan to educate and engage residents in understanding local efforts. 

Rebecca Jenkins, bachelor’s candidate in economics, Overland Park, Kansas, Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Award. Jenkins worked for Ashoka U, an organization that works with colleges and universities to foster a campuswide culture of social innovation. She also coordinated community-based learning trips for K-State students through the Staley School of Leadership Studies and its Alternative Breaks program.

For more information about the awards programs, visit or call the K-State Alumni Association at 800-600-ALUM (2586).

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