Impact on Students
Preparing our students to thrive in an increasingly competitive job environment is a top priority at Washburn University. This begins by recruiting the best students and providing them with the financial resources they need to succeed.
Student thrives at Washburn because of scholarships
Erica Koepsel - Rose Hill, Kansas
Peace Corps volunteer, Cambodia
2011 B.A. psychology; leadership studies, women’s and gender studies minors
Four years at Washburn. Three short days as a college graduate. And then one piece of life-transforming news: Erica Koepsel would be traveling 8,700 miles away to serve the Peace Corps in Cambodia.
Koepsel is matter-of-fact about her volunteering. It’s simply what she does. As she explains, she’s independent, she gets bored quickly, and she’s always hungry for new experiences. She came to Washburn for two reasons: 1) the size would allow her to get involved, and 2) the scholarships would allow her to get more involved.
“Scholarships helped a lot. I felt like I really was wanted there,” she said.
“Had I not gotten the scholarships, I don’t know that I would have ended up at Washburn. And I don’t know that I would have been able to do all the things I did at Washburn — to go to a third-world country (Nicaragua) for two weeks, or do 900 hours of community service (through Washburn’s AmeriCorps Bonner Program). You don’t have time for that if you have to work all the time.”
Koepsel made use of that extra time in short order. On top of her 900 hours of volunteering, she joined the Washburn Student Government Association and the Honors Program, and completed all four tracks of the Washburn Transformational Experience — all while going to school and working on campus and at Topeka’s YWCA.
Leaving for Cambodia in July 2011, Koepsel was both nervous and exhilarated.
“I’ll be a health education extension agent, which means I’ll be doing work with HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and nutrition. That was what I was passionate about and really wanted to do.”
Returned Peace Corps volunteers have become U.S. senators, Pulitzer Prize winners, and foreign ambassadors. Koepsel doesn’t know the next line in her story just yet. But she’ll have 27 months in Cambodia to decide how she’s going to be of service next.