March 29, 2004

Contact: Ann Eversole, associate dean of students, (785) 864-4060.

5 KU seniors recognized as Chancellor's Student Award winners; 4 more to come

LAWRENCE -- Nine University of Kansas graduating seniors are being surprised today and tomorrow with news that they are 2004 Chancellor's Student Award winners in recognition of their academic, volunteer and leadership accomplishments during their undergraduate years.

Richard Johnson, associate vice provost for student success and dean of students, and Ann Eversole, associate dean of students, are visiting the students' classrooms to present the citations. Chancellor Robert Hemenway will host a reception to honor the students on May 22 in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union.

The 15-member Chancellor's Student Awards Committee selected the winners, who receive cash prizes except for the Agnes Wright Strickland Award, which brings with it a lifetime membership in the KU Alumni Association.

The five students recognized today are:

 • Laura Dakhil, Wichita journalism, strategic communications emphasis, major, received the Caryl K. Smith Student Leader Award. This award goes to a graduating senior who is a member of a fraternity or sorority and who has demonstrated commitment to the local chapter, the KU Greek community, the university and the Lawrence community. The award was established in 1993 in honor of Smith's dedication and support of the KU Greek community during her tenure as dean of student life.

Dakhil will attend law school after she graduates with honors from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a bachelor's degree that also includes minors in French and leadership studies. She is the daughter of Shaker and Kathie Dakhil of Wichita and is a graduate of Wichita Collegiate School. Among her special service projects was creating the "Bringing Campus Home" program for the children of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wichita to teach them about higher education opportunities from the perspectives of university students. A member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, she was a founder and adviser for the All-Greek Dinner Exchange Committee, among many Greek community activities that also included being named Outstanding New Greek Woman of the Year 2001, Panhellenic Association vice president for public relations and facilitator for leadership training events. Among her all-campus leadership roles was serving as a class officer her sophomore and junior years and being 2002 chair of the homecoming steering awards committee, the first student-run homecoming committee for KU. She has been chosen for the University Honors Program, Mortar Board, and Order of Omega Greek academic and leadership organization.

 • Sarah Feldt, Norman, Okla., physics and mathematics major, and Travis Weller, Garden City sociology major, each received Class of 1913 Awards. The Class of 1913 Awards are given annually to a senior man and woman who have had stellar academic records, plus have shown evidence of comprehensive intelligence, devotion to studies and personal character, and promise of usefulness to society.

Feldt plans to pursue a doctorate in biophysics after graduating with honors in both physics and mathematics with the goal of teaching at a research university. She is the daughter of Andy and Jan Feldt and is a graduate of Norman North High School. She was a 2003 Goldwater scholar with a 3.97 overall grade-point average and is a research assistant in her two major departments, studying nonlinear dynamics in physics and applications of stochastic analysis in mathematics. As president of the Society of Physics Students, she has worked to improve the environment for students and raise the profile for physics students with public education and recruitment efforts. She is a proctor of Miller Scholarship Hall and plays flute in the University Band.

Weller's community activism outreach became integral to his studies for a bachelor's degree in sociology with plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public law. He is the son of Brad and Sue Weller and is a graduate of Garden City High School. As the first generation of his family to attend college, he has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and was a Truman scholar finalist. As the men's outreach coordinator with the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center at KU, he developed programming on men's issues. He is a co-founder of KU Men Can Stop Rape, which organized a campaign against violence against women. Within the university Center for Community Outreach, he has redesigned the focus of the program in his role as coordinator for Concerned Active and Aware Students, focusing on social justice activities, food collection drives and death penalty forums. Following an internship with the Kansas Coalition against the Death Penalty, he planned and completed a Lobby Day against the Death Penalty for KU Amnesty International members. He has been a new student orientation assistant, calculus tutor and student senator.

 • Ben Kirby, Dallas, Texas, biology major, received the Alexis F. Dillard Student Involvement Award, given to a graduating student who has unselfishly contributed to the university through campus involvement. The award was established by Dillard's family and friends to remember and honor him.

Kirby plans to combine teaching biology with administrative leadership at the college or secondary school level. He is the son of Robert and Jane Kirby and is a graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. While at KU, he has had leadership and student advisory roles with both residence hall and Greek organizations. Kirby was a coordinator and co-founder of the Freshman Leadership Council, aimed to get freshmen involved in campus organizations. He served as a student senator representing university residence halls. While serving as philanthropy chairman for Theta Chi fraternity, he also was vice president for philanthropy and community service for the Interfraternity Council, where he coordinated Adopt-a-School, Habitat for Humanity House that Greeks Built, and fall and spring blood drives. With the Rock Chalk Revue advisory board he was co-chair of volunteer community service hours and donations to United Way agencies in Douglas County. He spent summer 2002 at the University of Costa Rica at Golfito.

 • Jennifer Sweeton, Parkville, Mo., cognitive psychology and French major, received an Agnes Wright Strickland award, established in 1953 in memory of Strickland, a member of the KU 1887 graduating class. It is given to a graduating senior man and woman in recognition of his or her academic record, demonstrated leadership in matters of university concern, respect among fellow students and indications of future dedication to service to the university.

Sweeton is the daughter of Stan and Tamera Sweeton and is a graduate of Olathe East High School. She plans to pursue graduate studies with the goal of becoming a cognitive neuroscientist teaching and doing research at the university level with a commitment to volunteer activities. Among her extensive academic recognitions are being a Rhodes scholar semifinalist and scholarships for being the top KU student in psychology, a $4,500 McNair scholar grant for summer research and an $8,000-plus Bioscience Initiative from the National Institutes of Health. During her undergraduate years, Sweeton has worked as a research assistant in six psychology labs, presented research at international symposia and co-wrote works scheduled for publication. She was a varsity cheerleader as a KU freshman. For the Kansas Children's Service League, Sweeton founded a drive to provide school supplies for children in foster homes. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

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