Young freshman takes on leadership role at Wichita State
Leadership is something that Reegan Innes is very familiar with. In fact, it’s one of the qualities the Wichita State University freshman is best known for.
Last year, Innes was a Harry Gore Memorial Scholarship winner, an honor that provided her with $52,000 towards her college education. She graduated from Mulvane High School (MHS) in spring 2013, and at the age of 19 Innes is working towards living up to the expectations of that prestigious scholarship.
Although her road to Wichita State started with participation in the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational (DSI), Innes set her sights set on being a Shocker a long time ago.
“My mom pushed me to try for it,” Innes said of the lengthy, challenging DSI. “She was like, ‘What’s the worst that could happen – you could win something?’ And I did.”
For the competition, which included numerous essays and interviews, Innes said she found herself in an unfamiliar situation: she was competing with students just as determined as she was. Winning was an unexpected surprise.
Leslie Bounous, the undergraduate admissions representative who visited MHS, was Innes’ first connection to WSU. One of the selling points Bounous brought to their conversations was WSU’s excellent Cooperative Education and Work-Place Learning program – Innes said that learning about co-op sealed the deal.
“It sounded awesome,” said Innes. “Getting college credit and getting paid for it? To me that’s very appealing. We live in a place where we actually have tons of opportunities and employers who invest in education. Co-op makes the most of that, and it wasn’t something I wanted to pass up.”
Another thing that drew Innes to Wichita State was the Student Ambassador Society’s annual Leadership Conference, which invites high school students to visit WSU for a day.
At the conference, Innes met community leaders and learned the different aspects of leadership. She said that she was so impressed she became a student ambassador herself, and she receives a lot of satisfaction from representing her school.
“As an ambassador, I take prospective students on tours around campus and share with them some of what Wichita State has given me,” she said. “For me, that experience is priceless.”
Innes has also taken on a leadership position in Gamma Phi Beta sorority, where she serves as administrative vice president.
Bounous described Innes as passionate and always prepared.
“From the first time I met her, Reegan stood out as thoughtful,” said Bounous. “She is a passionate Shocker. Having students like Reegan making the most out of their college experience is a great example of the possibilities that abound at WSU.”
Innes credits much of her success to her outstanding high school.
At MHS, Innes was student body president and president of the school’s elite show choir, as well as a member of Student Council, Thespian’s Club, Forensics, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Kansas Association for Youth (KAY) and various site councils. Those leadership positions, she said, gave Innes experience working in large groups and in decision making roles alongside adults.
“Without the experiences I had at Mulvane,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have been eligible for my scholarship, which was based on leadership and academics together. The school gave me opportunities to grow and my teachers gave me a voice to make a difference.”
Outside of school, Innes has worked for the Derby Recreation Commission, both at Rock River Rapids Derby Aquatic Park and at the Derby Recreation Center, for nearly four years as a head lifeguard, water safety instructor and lifeguard instructor. When she came to Wichita State Innes thought she’d become a teacher like her mother, but now she has her sights set on something else.
“Being a teacher would be great,” she said, “but given the leadership responsibilities that I’ve taken over in the past couple months I feel like there is more for me in public relations or communication. I want to be in a career where I can work with people, maybe in a nonprofit.”
Whatever her future holds, Innes’ immediate goals are simple and specific:
“I want to be a good representative of Wichita State,” she said. “As a student, and someday as alumni, I want to support Wichita State. I want to continue to grow and be a leader.”