With the rising cost of college tuition and college-related expenses, some students find themselves torn between attending the university they love and the financial reality of being a student at Kansas State.
When these difficult problems plague students, a solution is available through a scholarship with K-State Proud, a campus philanthropy.
Guided by the phrase “Students Helping Students,” K-State Proud is a student-led fundraising component of the Student Foundation organization. This body of students works with the K-State Foundation to promote support for K-State students among both students and alumni.
“It started 11 years ago, and it was actually a failed student body president campaign,” said Anna Meissbach, senior in history and Student Foundation vice president of campaigns. “Two students ran for president and vice president and unfortunately lost the campaign, but they decided they wanted to do something with their time, so they approached the Foundation about starting this student philanthropy and had this idea, and from their idea and working with the Foundation, they were able to bring K-State Proud to life.”
K-State Proud’s mission is simple, yet impactful: by encouraging students to rally together and support their peers in need, the organization raises funds for scholarships and financial assistance for students who are struggling to remain students at K-State.
“The biggest motivation — I think the reason that we do it is because it makes an impact for the students that need help the most at K-State,” said Nate Faflick, sophomore in family studies and human services and K-State Proud volunteer coordinator. “The whole extravagancy of it and the promotion and show all go back to raising awareness to eventually raise money to go towards our Student Opportunity Awards, which go towards students who have just run into financial difficulty that they couldn’t anticipate.”
The group primarily raises funds by donations and selling K-State Proud T-shirts. Through the philanthropy, K-State Proud has raised over $1 million, and the group has helped almost 600 students remain at K-State in spite of their financial circumstances.
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This year, the organization has set lofty goals for the campaign and the impact they hope to make in the K-State community.
“Our goal for this year is to raise $100,000 through student donations and to engage with 5,000 students — whether that be donors, volunteers, opportunity awards, nominations — just making sure that every student feels included in the campaign and that there’s space for them in it,” said Maddy McClellan, junior in apparel and textiles and K-State Proud co-chair.
The K-State Proud campaign has two key components. The first is called K-State Proud College Week, which took place this week with tables located in each of the colleges on campus.
“The first week we are focused on the colleges,” Meissbach said. “We go to each college on campus to table there to specifically reach those students.”
The second week, titled Proud Campaign Week, will take place Feb. 13-17. K-State Proud will host a booth in the K-State Student Union each day of the week, and each day will feature a different theme: Monday is “Coffee and Pastries with Proud,” Tuesday is “Meet the Men’s Basketball Team,” Wednesday is “Cookies and Cocoa with Proud,” Thursday is “Throwback Thursday,” and Friday is “Willie and Kornerbooth.”
“We have giveaways and activities and guests at the Union,” Meissbach said. “So, we will be in the Union at the same booth from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s for students to just come up to the booth and learn about K-State Proud. Our main goal that week is to get as many people educated about our cause as possible.”
The K-State Proud campaign concludes with the basketball game on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. against Oklahoma State in Bramlage Coliseum. Students are encouraged to wear their K-State Proud T-shirts to the game to show support.
Besides giving scholarships to students in need, K-State Proud attempts to involve as many students on campus as possible to make the philanthropy a success.
“We have four ways for students to get involved with K-State Proud,” McClellan said. “The first is donating to the campaign, second is nominating yourself or someone you know for student opportunity awards, the third is volunteering your time to the campaign, and the fourth is to be a member of Student Foundation, which does all the behind-the-scenes work for K-State Proud.”
In partnering with students on campus, K-State Proud focuses on bettering the lives of not only the students receiving scholarships, but also those that donate their time and resources to the campaign.
“We have a lot of different volunteer opportunities,” Faflick said. “We actually just restructured our volunteer program this year, for this year’s campaign to be more inclusive for all personality types. We’re trying to find a way to not just help students in need financially, but we’re also helping students sharpen their skills while volunteering through K-State Proud.”
Above all else, K-State Proud’s mission is to change the lives of individuals in the K-State community and to make a difference on campus.
“Everyone needs a little help sometimes — whether it be academically, we have tutoring; if you’re struggling with mental health issues, we have Counseling Services,” Faflick said. “K-State Proud is a way to help people financially if that is what it comes to. I know certain people have had tremendous impact on my life as I have gone through, (and) K-State Proud is a way for me to help out somebody else in a different way.”