Student leading with passion

Through her travels, experiences, friendships and news reading, Rebecca Jenkins, senior in economics, has developed a passion for learning about social issues and leading the charge for social justice in places that would otherwise be far from her and to which she would otherwise have no connection if not for her empathy. She currently coordinates Alternative Spring Break trips through the School of Leadership Studies, and hopes to use her passion to help solve some of the world's biggest social issues after college. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Rebecca Jenkins, senior in economics, helps plan alternative breaks for the Leadership Studies program at K-State. She is also involved in an internship with Ashoka U in the District of Columbia, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and Coalition for Women at K-State. Jenkins said she keeps her plate full and enjoys being involved.

“I’m nerdy,” Jenkins said. “I get passionate about things that I enjoy and get excited easily.”

David Zeiger, senior in education and Jenkins’ fiancé, said her nerdiness equals her passion.

“When she’s interested in something, she nerds out and wants to know everything about it,” Zeiger said.

Jenkins said she studied abroad in Ecuador last spring.

“She acted the same as she does here,” Kaitlyn Rippel, senior in sociology and international studies, said. “She liked to see new things and try new things and build new relationships.”

Jenkins said she first gained interest in leadership studies during a yearlong leadership class her freshman year. She became involved with planning alternative breaks her sophomore year when she saw a job opening for the position. She had no previous experience but needed a job and applied.

“Her ability to see other people’s potential — that coupled with how passionate she is — really makes her an effective leader,” Zeiger said.

The mission for the alternative breaks program is to get students to think about social issues over winter and spring breaks, Jenkins said.

“Students get hands-on experience to learn about social issues, like public education and the homeless,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it is important to stay involved and think more about social issues and see it firsthand.

She said she has always had a desire to know why things are the way they are and that there has always been some discontent within her.

“I’m not solving all the problems,” Jenkins said.

Doing her part and inspiring others drives her to do what she does, Jenkins said.

“She is really good at putting herself at the perspective of the people she’s learning about,” Zeiger said. “She puts herself in the shoes of those in need.”

Roommate Julia Hilts, senior in chemical engineering, said that Jenkins inspires her.

“As a roommate, she is somebody who brings out deep conversations in a natural and welcome way,” Hilts said. “Sometimes we have very awesome discussions about the world.”

Hilts said she met Jenkins through the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority their freshmen year.

“She has a very big heart,” Hilts said. “She is the embodiment of somebody who wants to make a better world.”

Jenkins has made an impact on the ones close to her. Her personality brings out the best in her friends, according to Rippel.

“She is very honest and authentic, true to her own values and morals,” Rippel said. “She brings that out in people. She makes other people really want to be their authentic selves.”

Jenkins said she also has an interest in theater that started as a high school student at Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, Kansas. Along with reading, listening to music and hiking, Jenkins said she uses theater as her way of blocking out stress.

Because her focus is set on making a change, Jenkins said she uses her passion for helping people as a way to make a difference in the world. She said she never stops thinking of ways to help and ways to get others involved with alternative breaks.