Adam Ryan Smith of Kansas City, Kan., was among more than 2,900 students who received degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in ceremonies May 9-10.
Smith received a master of arts from the Division of Graduate Studies.
UNL awarded postgraduate degrees on May 9 and baccalaureate degrees on May 10 in ceremonies at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The graduates are from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and 37 countries.
by Kelly Rogge
Looking back on his time at Kansas City Kansas Community College, Tim Dupree is thankful. In fact, he believes that given the chance, everyone should start their post-secondary academic careers at a community college.
“I believe that I could have left here and gone directly to Washburn (University),” said the now lawyer based in Kansas City, Kan. “KCKCC prepared me for law school better, I think, than KU. The professors here were very engaging with the students. They wanted us to learn and were invested in our education. They were willing to change the syllabus to fit the class.”
Dupree returned to KCKCC earlier this month to speak to Ewa Unoke’s American Government class. A lifelong resident of Wyandotte County, Dupree received an associate’s degree from KCKCC in 1999. He went on to graduate in 2001 from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and continued his education at the Washburn University School of Law. He earned a Juris Doctorate in 2003, and in 2008, returned to Wyandotte County when he founded the Law Office of Timothy L. Dupree, P.A. He also currently serves as a Wyandotte County District Judge Pro Tem and is a candidate for Wyandotte County District Court Judge. The primary election is Aug. 5.
“I love coming back to speak to the students,” Dupree said. “I look at them and think about how it wasn’t all that long ago when I was sitting where they are now. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be here in this capacity speaking to students. It is a pretty great feeling.”
Unoke said he likes to bring in guest speakers throughout the year to help students connect what they are learning in class with real life. Because Dupree is currently running for office, he said it was a good opportunity to show students how the political election system works.
“It fits in so well with what we were learning in class,” he said. “I am also calling on the other people running (for Wyandotte County District Court Judge). It gives students an opportunity to listen to the theory and see it in practical experience.”
Unoke said having a past graduate come back to speak with current students is also a way to provide inspiration and show them what hard work and dedication can accomplish.
“When you bring back past graduates, it inspires students to think of their own lives,” he said. “They realize that they too can make it by seeing someone that was once like themselves.”
Dupree said he believes his education at KCKCC helped him to become the successful lawyer and candidate for county judge that he is today.
“There was a lot of accountability here. You had to be in class on time and do the work or you would be put on the spot the next day,” he said with a smile. “A lot of individuals come out of high school, and they don’t see their truest potential. They don’t realize what they can do. I believe KCKCC helps you to see that potential.”
by Alan Hoskins
At 2-10 in the Jayhawk Conference and 5-15 overall, Steve Burleson set goals for his promising but underachieving Kansas City Kansas Community College baseball team.
“Fifth place and get back to .500” – an optimistic but perhaps unrealistic goal considering the Blue Devils were about to face back-to-back four-game series with a pair of Jayhawk Conference co-leaders, Cowley County and Coffeyville.
What followed was the most amazing turnaround in Jayhawk Conference baseball history. Cowley, the perennial conference power which had never been swept in four games, was beaten in four straight and then Coffeyville was taken down in four games in a row and suddenly the Blue Devils had won 14 in a row and soared four games over .500.
“Going into a weekend against an always difficult opponent at Cowley and winning gave us the idea that when we bear down we could get results and then to sweep Coffeyville the next weekend erased the idea that beating Cowley may have been a fluke,” Burleson said. “It was a 10-day indicator that we could do better.”
Over the course of the last six weeks of the regular season, no team played better baseball, finishing the Jayhawk season 21-3 and the regular season 27-4. Taking two of three from Colby in the first round of the playoffs, the Blue Devils won three in a row in the super-regional before losing their final two to No. 5 ranked Johnson County. Although fifth in the final standings, the Blue Devils were second in the tournament that counted most and 17 games over .500 at 39-22.
“I’ve always admired a person or a team that recognized their shortcomings and took steps to do something about it,” Burleson said. “When we were 5-15, this group self-analyzed and sincerely worked on the things where we needed to get better. It was hard work but they were willing to take the steps to do something about it.
“As a group, we played poorly at the start of the year and suffered. Usually you have a collection of guys until they suffer and then they become a team when they come together. And it identified that if we were going to have success, it would have to come from our energy and our effort and when we had great energy and effort, we tended to play well and when we didn’t, it taught us something too.”
Hitting .300 as a team, the Blue Devils had five starters hit better than .300 led by centerfielder Lucas Norton, who hit .366, drove in 29 runs and stole a team high 29 bases. The others were freshman third baseman Daniel LaMunyon, who hit .340 and drove in 43; shortstop Zane Mapes, .316 with 19 RBI; catcher Garrett McKinzie, .315 with eight home runs and 48 RBI; and outfielder Christian Arnold, .305 with the team lead in home runs (10) and RBI (52). All earned All-Jayhawk recognition along with three pitchers, Geoffrey Birkemeier, Hunter Phillips and C.J. Merlo.
Second baseman Tyler Raymond just missed the .300 mark, hitting .298. He and LaMunyon will return next season along with three other regulars, outfielder Alex Thrower (.263), designated hitter Tanner Thibodeau (.23) and first baseman Tanner Foerschler (.219).
Starting pitchers Hunter (9-7) and Birkemeier (8-4) are both freshmen along with relievers Derek Watkins (4-0 with four saves), Preston Bailey (3-4), Jonathan May (3-1) and Spencer Nielsen (1-1). Losses include Merlo (6-3) and Cole Frakes (4-0).
“Time to get to work; it’s recruiting time,” Burleson said.