Recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Young Alumni Award, both of whom graduated less than 15 years ago, gave keynote presentations Tuesday.
The Student Alumni Board honored two alumni: Bryce Huschka, who graduated in 2007 with a degree in industrial engineering, and Megan McCall, who graduated in 2008 with a degree in sociology, for “excelling in their professions and contributing to their communities,” according to the K-State Alumni Association.
During her presentation, McCall said when she arrived at K-State she originally wanted to be a forensic scientist or a police officer.
“I took a violence against women course, and it changed my life,” McCall said. “I immediately began volunteering at the women’s shelter here in Manhattan, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Today, McCall works with the Rose Brooks Center to train hospital nurses how to handle cases of domestic and sexual abuse.
In her time spent working with domestic and sexual abuse victims, McCall said she has lost a total of seven women. One of those women was Amanda Bonner, a Manhattan woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in December 2011.
“She is me,” McCall said. “We are her, and it can happen to anyone. She is the reason I do what I do.”
McCall said this award has now pushed her to start a nonprofit to help victims of domestic and sexual abuse and refugees in Tucson, Arizona.
“If I had any advice, it would be to take care of yourself,” McCall said. “It’s okay to talk about mental health. It’s okay to get help. You deserve to get better.”
Bryce Huschka, area manager for ExxonMobil in Los Angeles, also received the award.
Huschka implemented the Skill Xcelerator, an academic framework with an emphasis on skill instead of grades that is used at K-State and at other colleges around the country. Students helped develop the concept.
Emmalee Devane, sophomore in industrial engineering and member of the founders team for the Skill Xcelerator program, said it is beneficial to students because employers need skill, not grades.
“We really focus in on doing these activities to connect you with your interest and skill-rich opportunities, which can be from internships to studying abroad,” Devane said. “But we focus on all different opportunities that help you build those skills and present yourself as a start-up.”
The program can be a great tool to have at hand during career fairs, Huschka said.
“You go and stand in line at career fair with resumes you wrote the night before,” Huschka said. “When you are a part of Skill Xcelerator, it writes the resume for you. Instead of you lining up for companies, companies are in line to speak to you.”
Huschka ended his presentation with a piece of advice for students.
“Be focused and find something you’re passionate about,” Huschka said. “The one thing I’ve learned from the Skill Xcelerator is you need to find different things and meet different people.”