Kansas State University


K-State First

First-Year Student Advocate and 2017 KSBN Award Winners

K-State First and the K-State Book Network presented four winners for our 2017 First-Year Student Advocate and KSBN Awards on March 9, 2018, at The Table at JP’s Bar and Grill. The event was hosted by our Housing and Dining partners, and included a brief ceremony to celebrate the success of these amazing students and faculty members.

First-Year Advocate Awards:

The newly created First-Year Advocate Award celebrates faculty and students who demonstrate the mission of K-State First in the following ways:

  • A commitment to student engagement in university-level learning and academic success for first-year students
  • A strong focus on academic excellence in first-year students
  • A dedication to community for first-year students
  • An emphasis on diversity when engaging first-year students
  • An ability to empower first-year students
  • A willingness to help first-year students find purpose and achievement in their personal lives and future careers

The 2017 First-Year Advocate Award winners were Tamara Bauer, faculty recipient, and Haley Weinberg, student recipient. Congratulations to these two amazing individuals. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to first-year students.


Additionally, we had a fantastic group who were nominated for their outstanding work with and for first-year students, and we’d like to celebrate them here as well

  • Don Saucier, nominee for the faculty/staff First-Year Advocate Award
  • Elijah Gardner, nominee for the student First-Year Advocate Award
  • Nate Faflick, nominee for the student First-Year Advocate Award
  • Emily Lehning, nominee for the faculty/staff First-Year Advocate Award
  • Elena Butler, nominee for the student First-Year Advocate Award
  • Agnés Aycock, nominee for the student First-Year Advocate Award
  • Carla Martinez Machain, nominee for the faculty/staff First-Year Advocate Award

KSBN Awards:

The KSBN Awards celebrate the experiences shared at K-State with the common book. The award winners all worked hard to foster student engagement, enhance students’ educational experience, expand the consideration of new ideas, values, and concepts in the classroom and in the university community, and utilize creative applications of the themes from the 2017 common book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The student awards are made possible by the generosity of Bill Miller and Debbie Leckron Miller.

Faculty award:

Julie Pentz is an Associate Professor of Dance and the Director of the K-State Dance Program in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. This fall was her 8th year of including the common book into her class DAS 100, First Year Seminar in K-State Culture. “The Curious Incident” inspired her to challenge her student’s in a very unique way. Through multiple assignments based on the common book, her DAS 100 students helped influence and create a piece of choreography titled “In the Night” for WinterDance 2017. The students’ reflections impacted parts of the choreography to the costume design and challenged them to think critically about the book and how they would channel that into a piece of art.

Student award:

The winner of our Student Award is Cara Hopkins. Throughout “The Curious Incident”, we watch Christopher grow into an independent, self-confident young adult and that was an experience Cara could relate to. In her essay for this scholarship, she documents her journey as a first year college student. Though she had mixed feelings about the journey before her, like Christopher she plunged into the vast unknown using resourcefulness to make the best of her situation. She has already mapped out her journey, which will take her to study abroad in Europe as a sophomore, graduating with a BS in Life Sciences, and being accepted into Optometry school.

“The main character of The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Christopher, and I are very similar in that we both took a step out of our comfort zones, we are overcoming challenges, and make sacrifices for the good of ourselves. This story has inspired me to become more independent and figure out my role in this in this craziness that we call life. I will carry Christopher and his story with me for the rest of my life.”

During the evening ceremony, we also presented two special gifts to Provost April Mason and to Bill Miller and Debbie Leckron Miller, to thank them for their generous support of our program and our students.

Congratulations to these amazing people and the work they have done. Our heartfelt thanks to all of the award winners and nominees for making the first-year experience great for K-State Students!

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