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Student Raises Awareness of Global Coffee Production

Polina Khoroshevskaya, McPherson College International Student Association

An environmental science class inspired McPherson College student Polina Khoroshevskaya to make a global issue relatable to other students and the campus community. Along with the McPherson College International Student Association (ISA), she recently hosted a global coffee tasting event to raise awareness about the global impacts of coffee production and to raise funds for both local and global charities.

“Since I was little, I have always wanted to find ways to help others,” Khoroshevskaya said. “The environmental science class really opened my eyes to the issues surrounding global coffee production and trade.”

Khoroshevskaya is a senior majoring in business administration: finance and accounting and was surprised when she learned that despite coffee’s rank as the second most traded commodity after oil, most of its producers struggle to make a living for their families and farming practices put in place to keep up with demand are destroying critical ecosystems.

“I’m a big coffee person,” she said. “So I started working with my professor (Dustin Wilgers) on an idea for an international coffee tasting event on campus that would engage our students and the community.”

She is president of the McPherson College ISA and thought utilizing the organization and its members to host the event would be a good fit. It was also important to her and the members to purchase the coffee directly from farmers or organizations that give the highest percentage of profits to farmers.

“It was important to us that we used trusted companies that support coffee growers and support how the coffee is produced,” Khoroshevskaya said. “We did a lot of research to find the best places to purchase the coffee we served.”

Coffees from Ethiopia, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, and Congo, as well as tea from South Africa, were served. ISA members were also on hand to give their opinions on the coffee and talk about their home countries.

“Polina is an ideal McPherson College student,” Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology, said. “Her leadership skills were on display as she organized and developed the event very independently. It was fun seeing a student be inspired by a classroom activity enough to share the ideas with others on campus.”

ISA is hoping to host another similar event before the end of the semester and donate funds to Kiva, a small organization that allows people to give microloans to entrepreneurs in other countries to help support their business and get them the funds they need. Members are also considering several local charities to support.

McPherson College Announces New Director of Student Life

Sarah WoodMcPherson College hired Sarah Wood to join the Student Affairs Office as director of student life. She will coordinate student life programming as well as service and spirituality activities on campus.

She is a 2018 graduate of Hutchinson Community College and a 2020 graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy. She served as director of admissions at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and as an admissions counselor and resident assistant there as a student.

“I could not be more excited to work with such a growing and diverse student body alongside a team that is so passionate about their work,” Wood said. “It’s a great day to be a Bulldog!”

In her role as director of student life, she will also support international students and work on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

McPherson College Announces New Dean of Students

Dr. Hannah Rushe PiechowskiMcPherson College announces Dr. Hannah Rushe Piechowski will help lead the Student Affairs Office as associate vice president and dean of students. Piechowski has worked in student affairs and higher education for over 12 years.

Her experience includes housing and residence life, first-year experience, retention, and admissions at Transylvania University, Bellarmine University, the University of Louisville, and Midway University. Most recently, she served as the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Missouri Western State University with Shana Meyer, vice president for student affairs at McPherson College.

“As a product of a private, liberal arts education, I am tremendously excited to join the McPherson College community,” Piechowski said. “From the moment I arrived to assist with the start of the school year, the students and campus won me over. I love the school spirit, the clear dedication to academics, and the strong sense of community.”

Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Piechowski is a graduate of Bellarmine University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and piano performance. She also earned a master’s degree in counseling and college student personnel from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in higher education and social change from Bellarmine University. Her dissertation and research are rooted in positive psychology while seeking to understand and support the experiences of college students in transition.

Piechowski has taught educational research methods in Bellarmine’s Masters of Higher Education and Social Justice Program, as well as preparatory piano for over eight years.  She has served as the president of the College Personnel Association of Kentucky, president of the Kentucky Association of Housing Officers, Missouri state coordinator for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, faculty for the Regional Entry Level Institution for the Southeastern Association of Housing Officers, and as a governing board member of the American College Personnel Association.  Piechowski and her yellow Labrador, Barley, are a certified therapy dog team by Pawsibilities Unleashed, Inc. and have over 100 hours of service at universities and hospitals.

Fresh Ideas Names New GM and Director of Dining Services at McPherson College

Fresh Ideas announced recently that Jaime Perez and Trevor Schwendiman have been promoted to new roles within the company and dining services program at McPherson College. Jaime, formerly McPherson’s director of dining services, is now a general manager where he will oversee operations at several area dining programs, including at McPherson. Trevor, formerly the assistant director of dining services at McPherson, is now the director of the campus dining program.

Both Jaime and Trevor have occupied leadership roles within the dining program over the past few years. As general manager, Jaime will work closely with Trevor to ensure food quality and customer service remain the focal points of Fresh Ideas’ service mission to McPherson’s campus community. Jaime will continue to play an integral role in the development and growth of McPherson’s dining program in his new role. In his new role as director, Trevor will oversee the day-to-day operations of McPherson College’s dining program and aims to bring new and innovative dining concepts, menus, and student engagement opportunities to campus.

Fresh Ideas is committed to creating a fresh food experience for people of all ages, and we welcome feedback to help us continue to grow and meet our customer’s needs. Guests are encouraged to visit the McPherson College dining website to view menus, dining service hours, leave feedback for Trevor and his team, and much more

McPherson College Recognizes Top Students for 20-21

Each year McPherson College recognizes outstanding students from academic, athletic, and service areas across campus. This year’s award recipients are:

  • Stage Manager of the Year – Sarah Asher, Kansas City, MO, for Native Gardens
  • Production Crew Member of the Year – Lindy Reynolds, McPherson, for sound in Native Gardens
  • Team Player of the Year – Tomi Simmons, Las Vegas, for Native Gardens
  • Achievement in Male Performance – Michael Beltran, Bogoto, Columbia, for Pablo in Native Gardens
  • Achievement in Female Performance – Grace van Asselt, McPherson for Molly in Molly Sweeney
  • Outstanding Morale for the Season – Cheneal Benne, Courtland, KS
  • Rookie Theatre Student of the Year – Sarah Asher, Kansas City, MO
  • Theatre Student of the Year – Sarah Asher, Kansas City, MO

Scene from “Native Gardens” featuring Tomi Simmons, Michael Beltran, Allison Penalva and Jacob Reed.

  • Outstanding Production – Native Gardens

Scene from “Dutchman” featuring Jailynn Hammel and Javon Davis

  • Outstanding Ensemble – Dutchman

Tevin Oller

  • Senior of the Year – Tevin Oller, Merriam, KS

Lola Hipp

  • Underclassman of the Year – Lola Hipp, Goodland, KS

Destiny Bacon Navid Istanbullu

  • Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Destiny Bacon, La Mesa, CA
  • Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Navid Istanbullu, Bremen, Germany

Wally Behrens

  • “Pop” Rice Award – Wally Behrens, Crested Butte, CO

Tim Lauring

  • Paul Russell Award for Excellence – Tim Lauring, Worcester, MA

  • Outstanding Behavioral Science Student in psychology – Riley Bradbury, Castle Rock, CO
  • Outstanding Behavioral Science Student in sociology – Christie Silber, Simi Valley, CA
  • Outstanding Business Student Award – Myriah Webster, Marquette, KS
  • Inscribe 2020 Editors – Alexis Grattan, Newton, KS; Jackie Gullion, Fremont, CA.; and Taylor Cunningham, Wellsville, KS
  • Award for Academic Excellence – Gregory Neiger, Scotts Valley, CA
  • Interdisciplinary Health Science Award for Academic Excellence – Destiny Bacon, La Mesa, CA
  • Leland L. Lengel Memorial Scholarship – Kurtis Ebling, Lindsborg, KS; Joseph Yanez-Perez, Rexford, KS; Ellis Woodruff, Princeton, TX
  • Marvin and Maureen Will Memorial Scholarship – Abigail Briscoe, Little River, KS; and Makenzie Jansonius, Prairie View, KS

Courtney Weesner and Tomi Simmons

  • Induction to Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society – Courtney Weesner, Hutchinson, KS; and Tomi Simmons, Las Vegas, NV

Lambda Pi Eta 2021


2021 science awards 2021 science awards

  • Natural Science Merit Research Award – Sydney Burton, Stilwell, KS; Jessica James, Halstead, KS; Choucranie N. Kayembe, Lubumbashi, Haut-Katanga, DR Congo; Aaron Leck, McPherson; Allison Pamela Penalva Vanegas, McPherson
  • First-Year Chemistry Award – Trey Murphy, Sydney, Australia

Taylor Bohannon

  • First-Year Biology Award – Taylor Bohannon, Belle Plaine, KS

2021 science awards

  • Pandemic Perseverance Award: for having persisted with determination to overcome the obstacles of this most unusual year – Maile Deutsch, Kylecia Taylor, Choucranie Kayembe, Shelby Bonn, and Jenna Christensen

Light and Life Awards:

  • Rising Star – Taeylon Garland, Fort Hood, TX
  • Student Leader of the Year – Maile Deutsch, Palmer, TX
  • Unsung Hero – Tevin Oller, Merriam, KS
  • Excellence in Community Service – Gamma Beta Phi
  • Good Neighbor – Kylecia Taylor, Fort Hood, TX
  • Outstanding Advisor – Manjula Koralegedara, associate professor of chemistry
  • Outstanding Student Group – SAB and MC Residents
  • Bridge Builder – Tomi Simmons, Las Vegas, NV
  • Greatest Leap – Rogue Writers
  • Teachers of Promise – Kaitlyn Foster, McPherson; and Reganne Barker Barrett, Tipton, KS
  • Model Educators – Jack Stalcup, Hugoton, KS; and Matthisen Witzel, St. Francis, KS
  • Destiny Bacon – San Diego, CA
  • Cherie Bruce – Minneapolis, KS
  • Taylor Cunningham – Wellsville, KS
  • Navid Istanbullu – Bremen, Germany
  • Sebia Kalambayi Kabedi – Lubumbashi, Congo
  • Aaron Leck – McPherson
  • Nathaniel McLaughlin – Ticonderoga, NY
  • Ilanna Moyer – McPherson
  • Allison Penalva Vanegas – San Miguel, El Salvador
  • Kendryk Rankin – Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tomi Simmons – Las Vegas, NV
  • Meklit Tilahun – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Myriah Webster – Lindsborg, KS
  • Courtney Weesner – Hutchinson, KS

Jamie Pjesky

  • Jamie Pjesky, Assistant Dean of Campus Life & Belonging



Initiative Helps McPherson College Student Socialize Safely

A new initiative at McPherson College is creating normalcy, both academically and socially, for students who may otherwise be feeling isolated this year. The initiative called QuaranTeams encourages students to form small groups and provides funding for their activities.

Gifts from alumni and friends of the college support the program, which is coordinated through the Office of Student Life. Launched at the start of the spring semester, 20 teams of two to five students are participating in the program. Each week the teams can request funds to pay for an activity for their small group.

“It’s a social-safety initiative to decrease the spread of COVID-19 on our campus,” Gabrielle Williams, director of student life, said. “Our expectations were simply to provide students an opportunity to hang out and support their mental wellness. It’s become a very organic way for students to shape their own experiences while still keeping in touch with our office.”

Students agree to a social contract that outlines behavior within their team, such as how they greet each other or if they hang out with other groups. The teams also agree to host at least two study halls, complete 10 hours of community service, and attend at least one Student Life organized campus event.

“I think we are very privileged to have alumni donate funds for a program dedicated to the student experience,” Williams said. “The community service aspect of the program is our way of helping our students give back in appreciation of the investment that was made in them.”

Teams have used funds to order take-out, buy supplies for watch parties and game nights, and a variety of other small group activities.

“Not all of the people on the teams were friends before this,” Williams said. “It’s been a really good way for students to stay connected and make new friendships, which has been hard this year especially for our freshmen.”

McPherson College Announces New V.P. for Student Affairs

Shana L. Warkentine Meyer

Shana L. Warkentine Meyer will join McPherson College as vice president for student affairs.

Shana L. Warkentine Meyer will join McPherson College as vice president for student affairs after the completion of this academic year. She brings more than 23 years of administrative experience in higher education to the position including her current role as interim vice president for student affairs at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“McPherson College is fortunate to have found somebody with the depth of knowledge and experience to fill the leadership role in student affairs,” President Michael Schneider said. “I am grateful for the leadership from Interim Dean of Students Jamie Pjesky the past nine months. Shana is a welcome addition to a team focused on strengthening the McPherson College student experience.”

Throughout her career, Meyer has provided institutional leadership in student development, risk management, diversity training, budgeting, strategic planning, master planning, crisis response, and assessment. Additionally, she has held leadership positions in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators including representing 10 states as a regional director and as vice president for student affairs initiatives on the organization’s conference planning subcommittee.

At McPherson College, Meyer will design and manage all student-driven programs that attract potential students, enhance student development, promote retention, and enrich the academic experience for all students. She will oversee student life initiatives, residential staff and activities, coordinate dining and healthcare, work with academic services, and promote safety throughout all aspects of student affairs.

Prior to her current interim position, Meyer served as vice president for student affairs at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, and as assistant vice president of student affairs at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. She has also worked in student and academic affairs roles at Kansas State University Polytechnic in Salina, and Kansas State University in Manhattan.

“As a Kansas native, I am thrilled to be returning home,” Meyer said. “McPherson College is a special place with welcoming people and engaged students. When I visited campus, I was impressed with the quality education, excellent student experience, and the value McPherson College offers.

“There are many exciting opportunities on the horizon and I’m eager to work alongside President Schneider, faculty, staff, the student affairs team, and our students to continue and build upon the great work begin accomplished. Most importantly, I look forward to finding ways to interact with and support our students.”

She holds an M.S. in Counselor Education, Student Personnel Emphasis, and a B.S. in English/journalism, with a communication minor, from Emporia State University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in student affairs in higher education from Kansas State University.

Meyers will begin work on June 1, 2021.

Adventure Program Adds Initiatives for Students

A unique program that offers McPherson College students opportunities to engage in outdoor adventures continues to add new initiatives that enhance the student experience and build leadership skills while embracing Kansas outdoors.

The Bulldog Adventures program was introduced to McPherson College students last academic year providing opportunities for students to participate in monthly off-campus adventures as well as on-campus outdoor activities. Offering ventures like hiking, float trips, a fishing derby, and lawn games, Bulldog Adventures utilizes outdoor spaces in and around campus. This year the program added several new initiatives including a Build Your Own Adventure option, Shotgun Sports team, and will introduce a leadership academy later this spring.

Through Build Your Own Adventure, students can check out adventure gear like backpacks, trekking poles, fishing gear, tents, and sleeping bags, and consult with Tony Helfrich, director of adventure programming, about where and how to plan their own adventures. Other gear like binoculars, hammocks, and disc golf sets are also available providing a wide variety of options. The gear, which was donated to the college through The Outdoor Fund by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, is offered at no expense to students.

“We have great participation in our monthly outings but also wanted to give our students the ability to explore Kansas on their own,” Helfrich said. “We also collaborate with other campus groups to plan custom adventures that appeal to their members. For many of our students, our adventures are their first exposure to this part of our state.”

The McPherson College Shotgun Sports team, another aspect of the outdoor adventure program, recently completed its inaugural season. The team competes in the USA College Clay Target League, Association of College Unions International Clay Targets, and Scholastic Clay Target Program. Shotgun Sports is a varsity level, co-ed team with scholarships available for student-athletes. Helfrich, a nationally certified shotgun coach and range safety officer, serves as head coach. His assistant coaches are Pete Brubaker and Chris Wallace.

“Shotgun sports is an activity that really evens the playing field for many students. Any person regardless of their athletic ability can participate in it,” Brubaker, who is also a nationally certified shotgun coach, said. “It provides all the beneficial lessons of team participation to a much wider group of McPherson College students. And, it is well documented that it is one of the safest sports for students. A national safety surveillance study a couple of years ago reported that of one million trigger pulls that year there were no injuries. No other sport can make that claim.”

This season, six student-athletes participated on the team, including Lola Hipp of Goodland, Kansas.

“I was so excited when Tony (Helfrich) reached out to me about being able to shoot trap at the collegiate level. It was something I never thought I would be able to do,” Hipp said. “Being able to compete in shotgun sports really brought McPherson College to the top of the list when choosing where to go, and it is one of the best choices I have made during my college career.”

Bulldog Adventures will also introduce a new leadership academy as part of its program later this spring. The adventures program is collaborating with the college’s Career Service Office to create leadership opportunities that combine outdoor adventure experiences with the eight career readiness competencies outlined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The goal of the leadership academy is to prepare students for professional life and provide a completion certificate that students can include in their résumés.

“Taking part in structured outdoor adventures requires a wide array of skills that easily crossover to a professional setting,” Helfrich said. “What sets our leadership program apart from others is that we’re going to be teaching these skills while participating in some really neat hands-on outings. It’s all about using the power of the great outdoors to bring students together and grow as young people while having fun leading experiences and learning skills that will benefit them for life.”

The adventure program was made possible through a generous donation from a supporter of the college who has a passion for the outdoors. Helfrich says he looks forward to continuing to grow the program and increase the number of students engaged in outdoor adventures. The program was recently featured on the podcast Uncovering Kansas. More information can also be found at

McPherson College Takes Advantage of Outdoor Spaces in Kansas to Provide Student Adventures

Bulldog Adventures

Students at McPherson College have the opportunity to set out on their own adventures and explore all Kansas has to offer through a new program on campus called Build Your Own Adventure. Offered through the college’s Bulldog Adventures organization, it provides gear and planning information to assist students in taking advantage of the great outdoor spaces in Kansas on their own time.

Bulldog Adventures, a program introduced by McPherson College last year, provides opportunities for students to participate in monthly adventures and on-campus outdoor activities. Offering ventures like hiking, float trips, a fishing derby, and lawn games, Bulldog Adventures utilizes outdoor spaces in and around campus to engage students and develop leadership skills.

“We have great participation in our monthly outings but also wanted to give our students the ability to explore Kansas on their own,” Tony Helfrich, director of Bulldog Adventures, said. “For many of our students, our adventures are their first exposure to this part of our state.”

Adventure gear for hiking like backpacks and trekking poles along with fishing gear, tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gear, disc golf sets as well as other gear like binoculars and hammocks are available for students to check out and use on their adventures. The gear, which was donated to the college through The Outdoor Fund by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is offered at no expense to the students.

Helfrich, an experienced outdoorsman, is available to help students plan their adventure. A list of hiking trails, fishing sites, camping areas and disc golf courses within half a day’s drive from campus provide plenty of options for students to experience Kansas.

“The adventure programs enhance the collegiate experience in a way that has not been done before,” Helfrich said. “I hope to engage students and spark a passion for adventure by taking advantage of all there is to do in Kansas. It’s an ideal way to socialize in a responsible way while learning skills they can enjoy their entire life.”

Beside the monthly group adventures and the new Build Your Own Adventure program, Bulldog Adventures also coordinates efforts of the student Adventures Club, which is working with the Environmental Stewardship class to develop the McPherson College Outdoor Adventure Education Center at Bulldog Park in McPherson. It also conducts team-building adventures for student athletes and collaborates with other organizations and programs on campus to plan outdoor activities during orientation and throughout the semester. Each week this fall, Bulldog Adventures hosted games on the college lawns where student teams competed for prizes.

Helfrich is looking forward to continuing to grow each of the pillars under the umbrella of Bulldog Adventures and increasing the number of students engaged in outdoor adventures.

“The positive characteristics the great outdoors organically instill in individuals is powerful and having the opportunity to see this take place in students is truly a blessing,” he said.

New Student Health Center Opens on McPherson College Campus

Campus Health Clinic

McPherson College makes it easy for its students to access health care and counseling services on campus at its new Campus Student Health Center. The new building, located on Gordon Street across from Metzler Hall, is a dedicated student and campus health facility. It will be open for the public to tour during McPherson College Homecoming, October 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The college recognized that navigating the complexities of health care is confusing; particularly for college students who may be dealing with a health crisis alone for the first time. Having a dedicated building on campus for health care services was the college’s response to student surveys that consistently rated access to health and counseling services on campus as a top priority. The new facility opened when classes began this fall.

“Often cost, convenience, and office hours prevent students from seeking medical attention off campus,” President Michael Schneider said. “We offer our students the most comprehensive health and counseling services among colleges our size in the state. The new clinic allows for greater access to high quality wellness resources on campus.”

McPherson College will continue to partner with Partners In Family Care and with Client Centered Counseling to provide health and counseling services respectively. Partners In Family Care, based in Moundridge, Kansas, is a practice run in part by Drs. Paul and Marla Ullom-Minnich, both alumni of McPherson College. Linda Helmer, also a McPherson College alumna, operates Client Centered Counseling and provides services in the new clinic and at the downtown location.

Health and counseling services at the college are highly utilized by students and staff members, according to the clinic records. Student fees include unlimited health care office visits for full-time students, as well as 10 visits with the counseling office at no charge. Clinical services, like laboratory work, are also available but are submitted to insurances.