Graduation Stories

Jeff Robinson pursues medicine but doesn't give up on piano

Classical composers like Bach, Beethoven and Brahms aren’t typically paired with stethoscopes, scalpels and surgeries. But for University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita graduate Jeffrey A. Robinson, art and science go hand-in-hand.

Often, people only know of Robinson’s incredible talent at the piano or for his great intellect as he’s worked to become a pediatrician. But Robinson is both and says the connection of music to medicine is not uncommon.

A longtime KU student — he’s been enrolled for 10 years, earning two degrees — he graduates from the School of Medicine this month. Without a second to spare, he will move to Minnesota to spend three years as a general pediatrics resident at the esteemed Mayo Clinic.

Although practicing medicine is in his future, Robinson wasn’t always interested in the career. He’s an avid math and science enthusiast, but music is Robinson’s first love.


Megan Cole puts her athletic training skills to use with bull riders

Megan Cole came to the University of Kansas with a goal: to work with the men’s basketball team.

The athletic training major saw a place alongside the team as her way to work with elite athletes, to learn to be the best from working on the best. In 2008, she reached her goal as an athletic training student employee with assignments to cross country, track and field, football and — yes — men’s basketball.

But a piece of her was missing the sport she grew up with. Her father and brothers competed in amateur rodeo and that life seemed distant in Lawrence.


Yue Chu's passion for numbers leads her to Wall Street

Growing up in Nanjing, China, Yue Chu was encouraged by her mother to study dancing and singing, but urged by her father to hone her talent with mathematics. Chu found herself more enchanted by numbers and made up her mind to focus her energy there. And when it came time to go to college, Chu considered several universities in the United States.

“My father thought it was probably good to go to America,” Chu said. “In China, you basically learn the theoretical knowledge. Here you have chances to apply math to other fields, such as finances and engineering.”

She was drawn to the University of Kansas for its 12 cooperative living scholarship halls, where students cook and clean in exchange for a lower rate.

Jennifer Kissinger discovers new species of tapeworm

University of Kansas senior Jennifer M. Kissinger has carved a niche in the taxonomy of parasites by discovering four new species of tapeworms living in the gut of guitarfish.

Kissinger, a former daycare provider, is scheduled to graduate Sunday, May 22, with distinction from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology. She wants to study veterinary medicine.

The road from daycare provider to making a scientific discovery required nearly 20 years.

Ignacio Carvajal finds passion for language, literature

What seemed like the end of the world turned out to be an opportunity.

Ignacio Carvajal moved with his family to Lawrence from Costa Rica when he was 13. He spoke no English at the time, and everyone he knew remained in Costa Rica while he began a whole new life.

"I thought the world was going to collapse," Carvajal said.


Earning a doctorate included hefty commute for Wendy Herd

For four years, Wendy Herd commuted 400 miles roundtrip twice a week from her Springfield, Mo., home to the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence to earn both a master's degree and a doctorate in linguistics.

During the seven years needed to complete the two degrees, Herd continued to teach middle school, work as a teaching assistant at KU and help her husband, Zac, raise their daughter, Breanna, now 10. Last October, as she began writing her dissertation, she gave birth to their second child, Jacob.


Young chemist Anthony Prosser finds his future in the lab

Anthony Prosser spent the last year and a half of high school in rural Meriden living in a small apartment with his grandmother Linda.

"She was incredibly helpful," Prosser said. "Money was a big issue, you know. But she cooked for me and gave me the parental supervision that people like to say they don't need, but that that everyone needs."

In part, Prosser came to the University of Kansas so he could stay close to his grandmother, whom he still talks to every day. But he also received an academic scholarship offer that allowed him to pursue his love for chemistry, a subject he excelled at in high school.


Hamza Raheel works to solve environmental problems in Libya

Hamza Saleh Raheel was born and raised in a small town called Ajdabiya, Libya. Ajdabiya sits at the crossroad of two important routes - the coastal route from Tunisia to Egypt and the desert caravan route from the oases of Al Kofra and Jalu, home to more than 85 percent of the Libyan oil reserves.

From an early age, these oil reserves had a direct impact on Hamza's life and influenced his fascination with the subject of chemistry, leading him to graduate with a master's degree in engineering management at KU's Edwards Campus this month.


Nick Mott's drive for social justice underpins a varied path

When Johnson County native Nick Mott was applying to colleges, the University of Kansas appealed to him because it seemed like a new scene to explore, even though he grew up just down the road.

“My mom had gone to KU, but I hadn’t had a lot of experience with Lawrence,” Mott said. “A whole lot of people from Overland Park come here, but many of my very close friends from high school didn’t. So KU was still sort of a new experience for me, even though I lived very close.”

Mott intended to study film at first, but his plan changed when he chose instead to embrace a wider range of disciplines woven together by his sense of social change.


Occupational therapy students lead Tiles of Hope program

For outpatients at the University of Kansas Cancer Center's blood and marrow transplant unit, getting treatment involves a lot of downtime.

But two students graduating this month from KU's School of Allied Health have spent the past two years trying to change that.

Kendall Carithers and Sarah Salzman are the student leaders behind Tiles of Hope, a program that brings volunteers and patients together to create art. Patients and their families paint ceramic tiles, which are then displayed in the transplant unit, giving hope and inspiration to those coping with serious illness.


Godfrey Riddle envisions the future of urban housing

When he was just a child, inspiration struck Godfrey Riddle.

"I want to build a city where everyone owns a home," Riddle told his mother.

When he receives his bachelor's in architectural studies from the University of Kansas this month, he'll be one step closer to making his goal of dignified living for everyone a reality.


Cynthia Bishop finds the right fit at KU's Edwards Campus

Like a lot of people, Cynthia Bishop is about to earn a bachelor's degree. Unlike most people, for her it represents the end of a decades-long journey.

Over the course of that journey, she has worked in jobs ranging from a dental assistant to vice president of a small business. She moved to Florida, then back to greater Kansas City; got married and raised two kids to their teens; took courses and earned credits from several colleges and programs; and led several environmental projects for her community and her children's schools.


George 'Ebo' Browne utilizes tutoring services to get on track

George "Ebo" Browne doesn't have to think long when asked of his favorite memory during his time at the University of Kansas.

A four-year middle distance runner for the KU track team, Browne has seen firsthand the passion and hatred exhibited between Kansas and Missouri in the "Border Showdown." That's why the 4x400 meter relay held in January at the indoor KU-MU duel sticks out to Browne the most. With KU trailing the meet and just one event left, Browne watched his teammates make a heroic final comeback.


Mary McNulty lands not one, but two, post-KU acting jobs

Mary McNulty was a shy child, one who rarely spoke up in class. But she found her voice in the eighth grade, when she took to the stage as the evil queen in a school production of "Snow White." It was her first foray into the thrilling world of live theater, and it changed her life.

McNulty had thought she wanted to be a veterinarian, but the more she acted and sang in front of audiences, the more she saw herself taking a different path.

McNulty, a native of St. Louis, Mo., will graduate this month with a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre and voice from the University of Kansas. Having starred in nearly a dozen KU-staged plays and musicals, McNulty has become a familiar face to patrons of Murphy Hall productions.


Chris Martin's time in military, construction leads him to new path

Like many high school graduates, Chris Martin wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to do with his life. But what could be construed as a lack of direction led to a career serving in the United States Marine Corps, building houses and working in the halls of British Parliament.

Soon, Martin's path will lead to a degree in architectural engineering from the University of Kansas and a place in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Law. Ultimately, Martin hopes to make a difference in creating and supporting global clean energy and sustainability policy.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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