PHS grad earns top K-State honor as student employee

Gale Rose
Kansas State University senior and Pratt resident Katie Buhler has been awarded the Kyle Pelson Student Employee of the year from the KSU Career Center. Buhler (front left) trained KSU students for a Weekend Alternative Break to serve the non-profit organization Thrive Allen County. Students are (front from left) Buhler, coordinators Gracyn Higley and Siera Shirley. Team students (back from left) Yanshan Yu, Shufei Xu, Katherine Li, Jony Dahl, Katie Cox, Meagan Parkins and Ahmed Badawi.

While the COVID-19 crisis has rerouted the way education is delivered at all levels, it hasn’t stopped students from working towards their life goals.

Katie Buhler, who graduated from Pratt High School in 2016, will be graduating in May from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and minors in children’s literature and non-profit leadership studies.

Buhler has been extremely active throughout her college career with some demanding activities and has recently been awarded the Kyle Pelson Student Employee of the Year award from the KSU Career Center. Sixty students from across the university in a variety of fields were nominated for the award.

“There was quite a variety. There were some very skilled students, to say the least, that are making a big difference in our KSU community,” Buhler said.

Buhler was honored April 8 in a ceremony via ZOOM. Buhler said it was an amazing experience with several faculty members, some at the event, attending the presentation ceremony.

“They (faculty) made us welcome and it felt very special,” said Buhler who represented the School of Leadership Activities. “I was honored. I was surrounded by outstanding students who make contributions to the KSU community. It was a very exciting experience for me.”

Among the activities Buhler participated in that earned her the award was student coordinator in the KSU Staley School of Leadership Studies where she coordinated the Alternative Breaks program. Alternative Breaks is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students at KSU to engage in service learning experiences. Students travel to mid west communities during their spring break and engage with a variety of non-profit organizations to explore pressing issues. They help those organizations any way they see fit.

“I coordinated all their experiences and make sure the volunteers are ready to meet the needs of that organization,” Buhler said. “I get volunteers to participate in the program and help select the participants. I work on training the volunteers as they prepare to go on these excursions. I do leadership training so they can explore the social issues of each community and help address them in ethical ways.”

Some team members went to Denver for the socio economic impact on the public education system, some to Allen County Community College for development initiatives in rural communities, Springfield, Mo. to explore environmental sustainability issues and to Dallas for public health concerns.

“It was quite an array of opportunities to engage,” Buhler said.

Buhler also worked the summer of 2019 as an intern and coordinator on a Mandela Washington Fellowship. Fellowship, named after Nelson Mandela, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and provides for professional development experience to young leaders from sub Saharan Africans. Kansas State University was one of 60 U.S. host institutions. They hosted 25 leaders from 21 African countries.

Buhler coordinated their experiences with staff members and facilitated reflections on their learning experiences related to civic engagement.

Buhler said she wanted to recognize her nominator, Kaitlin Long, Administrator of Student Programs at the Staley School of Leadership Studies.

“She and many other Leadership Studies faculty members have been outstanding mentors during my time at K-State,” Buhler said.

As part of her nomination information, Long shared Buhler’s accomplishments and her impact on those programs.

“Katie’s legacy will live on through future student coordinators for the Alternative Breaks program. Katie worked exceptionally well to train new student coordinators in the fall semester as she was student teaching. I was blown away at how Katie considered her transition out of Alternative Breaks,” Long said.

Buhler is currently completing her student teaching requirement by teaching second grade online full time at Fort Riley Elementary School. Buhler is teaching remotely from Pratt in a classroom set up in the basement of her parents home. She will do student teaching from April 6 to May 21.

“It’s been quite an experience. I have daily ZOOM meetings and lots of interaction with the students. It’s exciting,” Buhler said.

Buhler is seeking an elementary teaching position. It may be an online position but she is anxious to get started on this next chapter of her life.

Buhler is the daughter of Don and Sue Buhler.