More than 1,100 Shockers are eligible for graduation in fall 2021. While each of their
journeys are unique, they all share a common connection to Shocker Nation. Here's what some of our graduates have to say about their time at Wichita State University
and the future they see for themselves.
Shocker graduate stories
Christopher Wright not only has a job as a communication and navigation technician
in the Air Force but is now graduating with a physics degree. “It has taken me 15 years to complete this bachelor's. If you were to ask
me if I would change anything, my likely answer would be, no. That ‘no’ comes with
the understanding that everything I have done up to this point hasn’t been wasted.
Whether it was time invested in my family, my work or myself — I value all of it.”
Aunjnae White, a first-generation student, will work at a domestic violence shelter
following graduation with a degree in psychology from WSU. “I really want to give advice to African American first-generation students
and let them know you can do it. You will want to give up because I wanted to so many
times, but just keep faith and remember the light at the end of the tunnel will be
what you always dreamed of.”
Lillian Nieman learned how to find confidence and advocate for herself while earning
a degree in biomedical engineering from Wichita State. “There were people here who wanted to watch me succeed and help
me along the way. They pushed me to reach out to my professors about research, shadow
a professional in my field, apply for internships, and most of all have confidence
Caitlin Nolen, a first-generation student from Edmond, Oklahoma, found that getting
connected on campus makes being a new student a lot less intimidating. She now plans
to get a master's degree in higher education/student affairs at WSU. “The advice I would give another Wichita State student would be to try a
little of everything in college. There is always something you can do, and if not,
it is easy to start it up. College goes by fast if you are having fun and staying
Christopher Schroeder is thankful he learned how to advocate for himself and find
his true passion for the biological sciences during a long road to graduating. “Don’t stop. It doesn’t matter how long it takes
to get what you want. It doesn’t matter who is watching or criticizing you. You are
your greatest advocate. Stand up, have a spine, and fight for what you want and believe
From being a mom of five to becoming a labor and delivery nurse – how does Megan Schmidt do it all? “This has been the most challenging, yet most
rewarding experience of my life. I am excited to step away from the role of student
so that I can finally begin the nursing career that I have worked very hard to achieve.
I am also incredibly emotional at the thought of walking across that stage and celebrating
this achievement with my family and my children.”
Ashley Carpenter, who's graduating with a biological sciences degree, participated in the WSU National Student Exchange Program at the University
of Montana to study forestry. She learned about trees and self-sufficiency there.
“I was drawn to the inclusivity and community values of the campus. The valuable opportunities
and support the biology department offered made me eager to pursue my passion.”
Balancing work, being a mother of five and being an honor roll student is not always
an easy feat, but Brittany Spires learned a good support system can help you along
the way. Spires is graduating with a degree in psychology. “To other students, I say, hang in there. Believe in yourself. Set small goals.
Give yourself grace to be imperfect. Make sure you have a support system. And make
your health and yourself a priority.”
Joyce Chiam, an international student from Malaysia, is earning her degree in industrial engineering with a minor in mathematics from Wichita State. Through the encouragement of her
peers, she has learned how to thrive in an academic environment far away from home.
“As an international student, it was exceptionally difficult to transition to a new
school, let alone a new country. But with enough encouragement from staff members,
faculties and classmates, I was soon involved in several organizations on campus.
That really helped make me feel at home and expand my social circle greatly.”
Valeria Esparza’s dream was to attend college as a first-generation student. She is
now guaranteed a position to teach elementary education as her future job following graduation. “The university was always a dream. I wanted
to be the first in my family to attend a university.”
Merry Kirkpatrick learned how to balance family life and school while earning a degree
in the early childhood unified program. She plans to continue working at WSU’s Childhood Development Center following
Lysel Bender dreams of becoming a writer and a publisher after receiving a double
major in English literature and creative writing. “Pursue a degree that you are passionate about. Life is going
to be hard and wasting time on something that you don’t care about is going to be
difficult to put effort into. It’s OK to switch majors. Don’t give up, don’t give
in – it will be worth it in the end.”
Kennedy Stamm was led to Wichita State because she liked the Wichita School District.
Now, she will start her teaching job in August after receiving a degree in elementary education. “My advice is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things and experience
new things. Always stay open minded.”