Meet a Shocker: Sierra Marie Bonn

Sierra Marie Bonn struggled to balance her work and education, but with the help of scholarships from the Miss Kansas Organization, she was able to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree from Wichita State University. She graduates with her Master of Innovation Design and following graduation, she will compete in the 2024 Miss Kansas Competition and continue working on the non-profit organization she founded while she was a student, Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead.

Sierra is one of more than 2,400 students eligible for spring 2024 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what's next for the grad.


El Dorado, Kansas


Master of Innovation Design

What made you choose Wichita State University?

It was close to home, and I was excited about the new programs starting up: Applied engineering (which is my undergraduate degree) and innovation design (which is my master’s program).

What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?

I faced homelessness while pursuing my undergraduate degree here at WSU. I was trying to balance attending school full-time while working multiple part-time jobs to pay for rent, food and tuition. I chose to participate in the Miss America Opportunity, which is one of the largest scholarship providers to young women in the nation. I've since earned over $26,000 in scholarships through the Miss Kansas Organization, which has helped me graduate without taking out any student loans to pay for my master’s degree.

What's your favorite off-campus location in Wichita?

Watermark Books on Douglas and Oliver. It's the perfect local bookshop and cafe to sit and study.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

"Just a Slice of My Pi." I have 61 digits of pi memorized.

What are your plans after graduation?

I'll be competing in the Miss Kansas Competition in June 2024. I also will continue serving as the executive director of my non-profit organization, Let's Go Full STEAM Ahead, which I founded while I was a student here at WSU, which works to empower students to develop the critical thinking and collaboration skills needed to advance them in their personal and professional lives. Additionally, we work to resolve equity and underrepresentation and STEAM fields.

What advice would you give other Wichita State students?

  1. You get out what you put into it.
  2. Make sure you're investing in yourself and your community.
  3. Rest is not something that's earned — it's something to be prioritized.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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