Changing Lives — Students

Lifting up talented students, inspirational teachers and innovative researchers by supporting their dreams creates ripples of influence. One scholarship may be the support a student needs to attend KU or finish a degree. One professorship could ignite hundreds of minds. One research award could fuel a discovery that helps countless people.

Now imagine the potential with the 735 new scholarships and 53 new professorships established by donors during Far Above. Four students and two faculty who benefited from this support shared their stories. An MBA student hopes to serve nonprofits. A law graduate wants to help people overcome difficulties. A journalism graduate works to elect effective leaders. A medical student helped develop implants for scoliosis patients. A professor strives to understand how ocean currents and weather influence life. An internationally recognized oncologist aims to save lives. Read on to learn about them. 

One act of generosity can make a difference for generations. The possibilities are endless because donors invested in KU people, the heart of our university. So many changes are already happening, and we can’t wait to see what is next. 


Scott Mitchell, M.D.

M.D. 2016

Bachelor’s in chemical engineering 2012

Salina, Kan.


Far Above Scholarships:

  • Berkley Memorial Scholarship in Medicine
  • Glen and Flora Warren Memorial Scholarship
  • Madison A. and Lila Self Engineering Leadership Fellow
  • Dane Hansen Leaders of Tomorrow Scholar


What is your passion?

I want to become a doctor to help people. Seeing patients improve their outcomes and become pain free motivates me. 


How have scholarships helped you? 

My scholarships have meant a great deal; they have supported me for eight years. Instead of taking a job to just pay the bills, I worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital and helped develop implants for scoliosis patients in partnership with KU engineering students. 


What is your goal for the future?

I plan to return to Kansas after my orthopedic surgery training at the Mayo Clinic. While I was working in Quinter, Kan., a 6-year-old patient with a broken leg had to be flown for treatment because the nearest surgeon was hours away. 


What do you love about KU? 

The thing I love most about KU is the people. I come from a long line of Jayhawks. At the School of Medicine, there is a corridor listing every graduate since 1905. I love to see the evolution of graduates. 


What would you say to KU donors?

Thank you for the generous gifts. I would have been in a difficult position without their support. It has been a life-changer.

Grecia Rucoba

Bachelor’s in accounting 2016 

Anthony, Kan.


Far Above Scholarships:

  • Leonel E. and Helen L. Tustison Scholarship in Business
  • Multicultural Business Scholars Scholarship


What is your passion?

My family is really important. My mom especially instilled in me that you can do whatever you want no matter your background. I want to prove that.


How have scholarships helped you?

Neither of my parents went to college. They were both born in Mexico and are hourly employees. I am paying for school myself by working multiple jobs and taking out loans. Without my scholarships, I couldn’t have afforded to come to KU. 


What are your goals for the future? 

Most of the talented business professionals work for big corporations. My goal is to bring essential business skills to nonprofits. I have a summer internship and am coming back to KU for my master’s in accounting. 


What do you love about KU?

I love the sense of community. It feels like everyone wants you to do well. Potter Lake is my favorite spot on campus. It’s so relaxing; I don’t need to put on headphones there. 


What would you say to KU donors?

I couldn’t have done this without them. I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the Hill without these scholarships.


What advice do you have for new students?

Get an on-campus job. My bosses have been some of the most influential people in my life.

Robin Randolph

J.D. 2016

Amelia, Va.


Far Above scholarship:

  • Mark V. and Stacy A. Parkinson Student Support Fund


What is your passion?

I love helping people get through their difficulties and solve their problems. That’s why I went to law school. I love my family, friends and mentors who encourage me to strive for my best. 


How have scholarships helped you? 

The Parkinson Fund made the Sixth Semester in Washinton, D.C. program possible for me. There, I interned with lawyers at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Additional scholarships helped support my education and reduced my student loan debt.


Have you overcome any obstacles in pursuing your education?

Lack of confidence and lack of funds were my biggest hurdles. I gained the confidence working as a paralegal for five years. I helped pay for school by working for myself as a Spanish-English document translator for a year and continued part-time during school. 


What is your goal for the future? 

I have a few practice areas in mind, but I mostly look forward to using my legal education in public service. 


What do you love about KU?

By far the chant — Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU! I came here because I wanted to attend a public law school with national recognition and a good value. 


What would you say to KU donors?

Thank you. For me, this was a dream come true.

Eric Pahls

Bachelor’s in journalism 2016 

Beloit, Kan.


Far Above Scholarships:

  • Joel Zeff Chicken Picata Scholarship
  • Cynthia Bregin Crouch Broadcast Scholarship
  • Dale L. and Esther I. Puckett Family
  • Journalism Scholarship
  • Max C. Page Memorial Scholarship
  • Dane Hansen Leaders of Tomorrow Scholar


What is your passion?

I am inspired by improving systems to help people and by working to put leaders in places to make that happen. That is why I am involved in political campaigns — because I believe good leaders can lift all people.


How have your scholarships helped you? 

My scholarships allowed me to take on internship opportunities, including MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in New York and John McCain’s senate office and Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign, both in Washington, D.C.


What do you love about KU? 

I love so much about KU — the tradition, the journalism school, KU Info. My favorite place is the Dole Institute. I loved working there and at KU Info. Sen. Dole also is a hero and mentor to me. 


What are your hobbies and interests? 

I enjoy cooking just about anything. I also love music. I have a collection of vinyl records, and I play four musical instruments. 


What would you say to KU donors?

I would not be here without their support. They’re a big part of my educational journey and my Jayhawk family.


What advice do you have for new students?

Try everything on campus once, and then go for those things you love.