WSU announces 10 new Koch Scholar recipients


The Wichita State University Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College has announced the 10 recipients of the Koch Scholars program for the fall 2019 semester. Selected from more than 100 applicants, these 10 recipients will each be awarded between $30,000 and $45,000 during their four-year attendance at WSU.

“The Koch Scholars program provides students the opportunity to pursue an education where they can explore their passions, develop their unique talents and achieve success,” said Meredith Olson, vice president of public affairs at Koch Industries.

This competitive scholarship program targets high school seniors enrolling in the College of Engineering or the W. Frank Barton School of Business. All Koch scholars are members of the Cohen Honors College and participate in community service and professional development activities throughout the year. Scholarship selection is based on high academic achievement including GPA and test scores, work experience, volunteer and leadership experiences, an essay and an interview process.

Koch scholars were honored at a luncheon on Friday, Feb. 8. Congratulatory remarks and words of wisdom were shared by Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation; Chase Koch, president of Koch Disruptive Technologies; and Tommy Schmidt, 2015 Koch scholar. Following the luncheon, the 2019 Koch Scholars and their guests were invited to Koch Industries for a tour.

The Koch Scholars program is made possible by a $1.54 million pledge from Koch Industries in 2014. The fall 2019 semester marks the fifth freshman class to participate in the Koch Scholar program.

Koch Scholar fall 2019 recipients:

  • Kenneth Brown, mechanical engineering Saint Thomas Aquinas High School
  • Cameron Gillespie, mechanical engineering Raymore-Peculiar R-Ii High School
  • Nathan Hassed, accounting Blue Valley North High School
  • Dakota Matthews, mechanical engineering McAlester High School
  • Theresa Maus, computer science Bishop Carroll Catholic High School
  • Jessica Orchard, mechanical engineering Northeast Magnet High School
  • Ryan Walter, electrical engineering Homeschool
  • Jennifer Weddle, mechanical engineering Homeschool
  • Colter Wright, computer engineering Sublette High School
  • Kourtney Zwiener, computer science Andover Central High School

Koch Scholar bios

Kenneth Brown, Mechanical Engineering, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Kansas
Kenneth is the son of David and Julia Brown. He is a member of Teens for Life and has attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. Kenneth is a founding member of SteamWorks Engineering Club at Saint Thomas Aquinas, participates on his high school basketball and baseball teams, a Kansas Honors Scholar, and has been on the Principal’s Honor Roll. He also built a successful landscaping company with his brother over the past three years.

Kenneth looks forward to the smaller class sizes and personal connections he will make with his professors and peers through the Honors College. After graduation, he hopes to pursue post-graduate studies and become part of a great mechanical engineering organization.

Cameron Gillespie, Mechanical Engineering, Raymore-Peculiar R-li High School, Missouri
Cameron is the son of Kyle and Tisha Gillespie. During high school, Cameron has served as the Vice President of the Technology Student Association and participated in National Honor Society and football, where he became a varsity letter man. In his spare time, he enjoys helping his grandpa’s elderly friends with yard work.

He is most looking forward to forming friendships and connections with a variety of new people. After graduation, he hopes to work in the automotive industry as an engineer for a major car company.

Nathan Hassed, Accounting, Blue Valley North High School, Kansas
Nathan is the son of John and Debbie Hassed. He has been a varsity athlete for baseball, soccer and track as well as a member of travel soccer and baseball academy teams. He is also a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Nathan founded and currently runs a baseball equipment and jersey drive for youth teams in the Dominican Republic and volunteers as a coach for a youth baseball team. He was selected to his Church Youth Group Leadership Team and elected county commissioner at Boys State of Kansas.

He is most looking forward to being challenged every day and working with his peers to learn and grow both as students and as future contributors to our society. He plans to pursue a career in the field of accounting or finance.

Dakota Matthews, Mechanical Engineering, McAlester High School, Oklahoma
Dakota is the daughter of Lance and Brienne Matthews. During high school, Dakota has been involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, Band Leadership Team and she served as Drum Major of the McAlester high School Marching Band. She is a volunteer and member of Pride of McAlester and also volunteers with Shared Blessings.

The most meaningful community service activity she participated in was when she prepared and passed out holiday meal boxes to the less fortunate in her community through Shared Blessings.

Dakota is looking forward to new challenges, participating in community outreach, and having a close group of people she can go to for help and guidance through the Honors College. She plans to major in mechanical engineering and hopes to work for a major automotive or aerospace company.

Theresa Maus, Computer Science, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Kansas
Theresa is the daughter of Martin and Monica Maus. She served as the Choir Director of St. John’s Catholic Church Youth Program for three years, before becoming an Assistant Human Relations Officer for a small and growing entertainment business called Klausmeyer Dairy Farm and Pumpkin Patch. She has been involved with Bishop Carroll Theater and After-School Tutoring, as well as March for Justice and Christian Youth Theater.

Visiting the elderly in care facilities has become very essential to who she is as it reinforced the inherent dignity of humanity and her place in the world. She now believes every engineering project should be people-centered every time, all the time.

She looks forward to the continued test of academic and personal iron and discovering both her limits and strengths through the Cohen Honors College. Following graduation, she hopes to work for a Tech Industry company while saving up for Law school.

Jessica Orchard, Mechanical Engineering, Northeast Magnet High School, Kansas
Jessica is the daughter of Lorie and Brock Orchard. She has served as President of the Northeast Magnet Christian Club for 2 years and is a member of Christian Club, National Honors Society, Servants as Leaders Team, and Youth Group Worship Team.

She spends time volunteering at The Lord's Diner and loves working with her family to serve food to the homeless of Wichita. She is encouraged by the guests who come in radiating nothing but joy despite their circumstances

Jessica plans to major in mechanical engineering and is looking forward to the intellectual challenges she will encounter and also being surrounded by likeminded people who are also always pushing themselves to do their absolute best.

Ryan Walter, Electrical Engineering, Homeschool, Kansas
Ryan is the son of Benjamin and Kimberly Walter. He is the co-owner of Gemini Sky drone photography, a local small business that he started with his twin brother in the summer of 2018. He is a First-Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and has participated in martial arts for over 8 years. In addition to this, he competed with the Wichita Warriors Homeschool Robotics Team for two years during high school.

The most meaningful community service activity for Ryan has been volunteering as a church day-camp counselor his sophomore summer. He spent over 40 hours leading and teaching 3rd graders. He has also volunteered at His Helping Hands and the Kansas Food Bank.

Ryan is most looking forward to the smaller class sizes and learning from professors who have had real world experience in their fields. He plans to major in Electrical Engineering and obtain his Masters in Business Administration. His dream job is to start his own technology company, with an emphasis on military technology.

Jennifer Weddle, Mechanical Engineering, Homeschool, Kansas
Jennifer is the daughter of Penny Weddle and the late Paul Weddle. She has served as a head teacher for several 5-day clubs hosted by Christian Youth In Action and Faith Builders Academy. She has also held positions in BEST Robotics, including Robot Leader and Team Leader. Jennifer has participated in a homeless feed hosted by the AllSpark organization as well as several activities with her church.

One of Jennifer’s most meaningful service activities was doing five-day clubs with Christian Youth In Action. She would help teach up to 15 children at a time over the course of 5 days. This helped her connect with young children of many backgrounds. She loved hearing their questions and seeing their interest in the lessons.

Jennifer is most looking forward to being challenged and growing in her education through her Honors classes. She is excited for what they have to offer and how they will be different from the other classes. Upon graduation, she hopes to find a meaningful job where she can make an impact and further develop her skills as an engineer.

Colter Wright, Computer Engineering, Sublette High School, Kansas
Colter is the son of Galen and Louise Wright. He currently serves as Vice President of the Sublette FFA chapter and has been captain for his scholar's bowl team. He is a member of NHS, plays trumpet in the band, and participates in Varsity Cross Country and Baseball.

Colter has worked for his community by adopting a secret Santa family and through Commodity distribution. He also participated in a mission trip and spent a week in Eagle Butte, South Dakota on an Indian reservation working with underprivileged kids and cooking at a homeless shelter.

Colter plans to major in computer engineering and is looking forward to the new and interesting challenge the Honors College will provide. He hopes to obtain a job in computer hardware design or computer architecture.

Kourtney Zwiener, Computer Science, Andover Central High School, Kansas
Kourtney is the daughter of Drs. Kevin and Kassie Zwiener. She has served as the section leader in band for two years and participates in Symphonic Band, Marching Band, Scholar's Bowl, National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Volunteering with Meals on Wheels has given her a greater appreciation for her mobility, access to food and youth.

She is excited to join the Cohen Honors College to learn about topics broader than her major. She is also looking forward to making life-long friends and connections. After graduation, she would like to stay in the Wichita area and be part of the people that build this city up just like it has built her up, but seeing different parts of the world has always been a dream of hers.