Ashleigh Taylor is entering her senior year as a recipient of the Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) 2018 Maud Wyatt Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is meant to recognize students who value their education at a private college. Only one student is selected from each of the 19 independent universities in Kansas to be the recipient of the award.
According to its website, KICA selects students who “demonstrate excellence in academics, character and leadership.” Recipients must also be full-time students, maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA and be actively involved on his or her college campus.
Taylor is a theater major with a minor in communication. In May, she applied for the scholarship completely on a whim, she said.
“I had been told about it the day after it was officially due, so I did my part of the scholarship application and submitted it on the same day,” she said. “My boss in the financial aid office, Myra Pfannenstiel, presented me with the opportunity and I thought I’d try because you never know unless you go for it. Even though I thought I had a decent shot, I still wasn’t 100 percent positive I was going to get it.”
Taylor completed an application and two short essays about herself and her college career. She wrote about the activities and clubs she has been involved in, as well as her plans for the future.
When June rolled around, Taylor assumed she did not receive the scholarship because the deadline to hear back had passed. She said she had almost completely forgotten about it when she received the award letter for the scholarship.
“I can’t thank the Kansas Independent Colleges Foundation enough for selecting me as a recipient,” Taylor said. “I was really excited to get this scholarship because I pay for my college tuition all on my own and I appreciate every dollar that I can get in scholarships. The lighter the loan burden, the better.”
Throughout her time as a student at Newman, Taylor has performed on the dance team, in multiple theater shows and musicals. She spent her junior year as team leader of the dance team, and this year she takes the title of captain.
“I have had a very positive experience at Newman,” she said. “The spirit squad has been one of the best experiences I’ve had through Newman, and I’ve learned a lot and have made so many great memories with my team.”
Taylor’s talents and theatrical interests landed her a starring role in “Footloose,” as well as Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” the world premiere of “The Miracle of Father Kapaun” and some student-directed one-acts. Audience members may also recognize her as a member of the Newman Chorale and now the Troubadours — which she is excited for, she said.
Along with tackling responsibilities that come with being a student worker, she has also written for the Vantage — the Newman University student-run newspaper.
“Through all these programs I have made friendships and connections that will last a lifetime,” Taylor said. “My life for the past few years has felt very Newman-oriented and it has been a good constant for me.”
Pfannenstiel describes Taylor as being a true leader at Newman in many different realms.
“Not only is Taylor a great student academically, but she is also an athlete and (involved in) theater,” she said. “She has been an excellent work-study student in the financial aid department for three years. Taylor demonstrates efficiency, reliability and integrity daily as financial aid processes are very detailed and highly confidential.”
Regarding her Newman experience, Taylor added, “I’ve had a wonderful time, but I am also ready to start a new chapter. I graduate in May 2019, so it will definitely be a bittersweet ending to my collegiate experience.”