Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts.
2016 is the first year of the Hawks to Watch spotlight, which recognizes KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences alumni and former students who have attended the university within the past 15 years.
In fall of 2016, the College welcomed back to campus many of the alumni who were named in this year’s inaugural class of Hawks to Watch. Their visits included small group discussions with students, visits with faculty members, and participation in career-focused panels.
Many of this year’s honorees were able to return to campus on Oct. 13 and 14 to participate in events designed to recognize their accomplishments and engage them with the KU community. The Student Alumni Association organized an evening of networking with the Hawks and a panel discussion moderated by Dean Carl Lejuez. All visiting Hawks were also recognized at a luncheon hosted by the KU Alumni Association and attended by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Neeli Bendapudi, Dean Lejuez and Alumni Association President Heath Peterson.
Hawks to Watch was introduced in 2016 as a way to highlight outstanding recent alumni from the College. Check out the photos below for a few scenes from the weekend and find even more images on the CLAS Facebook!
Meet this year’s Hawks to Watch:
Michael tested his limits and accumulated life-changing experiences as a lawyer in the U.S. Army. Now he works for an international law firm, dealing with government contracts. He’s also committed to community service, offering his services pro bono to military veterans.
Michael is one of those humanities graduates who’s put his skills to use in the technological world. He uses his KU English degree every day at Amazon. When he proposes a new product, or updates executives on the status of an initiative, he writes a paper. So to all you English students turning in your theses thinking “wow, this is the last paper I’ll ever have to write…,” think again.
Todd has been recognized as a rising young medical researcher, who has made significant discoveries both at understanding the precise mechanisms of cellular genomic regulation to my current effort to develop an effective HIV-1 vaccine. Now as a faculty member at Duke University, he hopes his efforts to understand how our immune system responds to pathogens translates into novel therapeutics and vaccines that can improve the lives of patients around the world.
Amy has carved her own path as a performer in New York City, acting, singing and writing. She also co-founded Spring Street Social Society, a business enterprise that plans and hosts creative and unexpected dinner parties and/or performances across the country.
Devon is working to “flip the script on education.” She’s focused on rewriting policies and practices of traditional education to improve opportunities and success rates for students of color and low-income students. She traces her passion and spark for doing this work from Bob Antonio’s Honors Sociology class her senior year at KU.
Kirsten is a disrupter, and says she learned how to be one at KU. It all started during her sophomore year when she verged from a commonly chosen pre-medical path in the sciences and opted instead to study Spanish and Portuguese language. She’s an active student leader and President of the Student Governing Council at KU Medical Center, where she’s pursuing a residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology to train as a physician and surgeon. She also intends to use this position to stand up for the voices of the patients and populations who are not being heard in current politics.
Lauren is in her dream career, working with patients to teach them skills to navigate speech and language disorders. She gets her greatest reward in knowing she’s helped empower people to regain their independence and be the best possible version of themselves.
Justin works with student athletes to help them succeed off the court. He worked with KU Athletics for nine years before joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he works directly with the men’s basketball team.
Johanna spent eight years working for President Obama, starting at the beginning of the Iowa caucuses. In all she traveled to more than 40 states and 40 countries, aboard Air Force One and with the press corps. Having studied history, she set the stage for history for 8 years. Now Johanna is again engaged in changing history working in the tech sector in California.
Chris has a passion for giving back to his community in return for the opportunities he’s had. He works with youth, some of them coming from difficult backgrounds. He credits his time at KU as a turning point that propelled him into his career and prepared him to jump into his work.
William is a Marine who served in both the infantry and intelligence. He’s a cofounder and CEO of Team Rubicon Global, an organization that enlists veterans in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. It all began with the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which inspired McNulty and co-founders to assemble a team of military veterans and deploy to Port-au-Prince to support emerging relief efforts.
Rachel used her advanced degree in liberal arts to pull off a successful mid-life career change while remaining engaged in her community. As a grad student, she conducted a state-wide oral history project; led a local elementary school to achieve the Kansas Green School of the Year Award; coordinated a multi-faceted visit from a nationally-recognized scholar; and formed a statewide network for women in Kansas. All of this was done while she worked full-time, ran a farm, and mothered two strong, young women.
Natalie works with students district-wide to evaluate and provide tools for speech-language disorders. Starting a new job in a new state was overwhelming at first, but she’s finding herself at home in a career she loves.
Kenton is charting new academic territory by placing rap music squarely within an academic tradition by displaying the overlaps between famed writers and rappers. One of his courses, “The Life and Times of S. Carter” places songs by the rapper Jay Z in a broad African American literary continuum of autobiographical and semi-autobiographical works.
John is an artist, filmmaker and designer who has exhibited his work across the globe. His art and film challenge the viewer to think beyond the normal experience. John’s art and film investigate individuals from unconventional communities. Some past groups include: cab drivers in Providence, RI, American bikers in Sturgis, SD, residents of Slab City, CA and college Greek life in Lawrence, KS.
A typical day in the office for Sara could involve wandering through marshes, riding an oyster boat, or waiting by the phone. Such is the life of an environmental journalist. She is the environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate of Victoria, Texas. She writes about oil, gas, water and coastal issues in the Crossroads, the name given to Victoria because of its proximity to Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.
If you know of Hawks to Watch we should feature next year, let us know at email@example.com.