December 14, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
Today, K-State Athletics will celebrate the graduation of 30 of its student-athletes.
Eight of K-State's 16 athletics teams have graduating seniors this month with the football team's 13 graduating seniors leading the pack.
From Hotel and Restaurant Management to Electrical Engineering to Animal Sciences, 16 different majors are represented in this fall's graduating class.
While the student-athletes are ready to begin new eras of their lives, there are certain things about K-State, the place they have grown to call "home," that they will always hold dear.
"I just love the atmosphere here at K-State," said volleyball senior Kaitlynn Pelger. "I love the people, the campus, the instructors. The people here always put me in a good mood, can always make me happy. It's going to be hard leaving. Of course it's an exciting thing to go to a new chapter in your life, but it's hard to leave behind what's been your home the past four years."
Pelger is graduating with a degree in Family Studies and Human Services and is planning on competing on the professional volleyball level in Europe upon graduation.
For football senior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson, graduating with a degree in Social Sciences, his favorite memories as a student-athlete came in the milestones he worked to create during his years on the football field.
"My favorite memories would have to be my first receiving touchdown - that was a big one for me," Thompson started. "The first time I took the field for my very first game here, that was big because I'd never seen a crowd that big and winning the Big 12 Championship, that's a big one too."
Men's golf senior David Klaudt finished his degree in accounting in just three and a half years. Klaudt, full of Wildcat pride and passion, decided it wasn't quite time for him to leave Manhattan, so he plans to continue his education at K-State beginning his master's degree in accounting next spring.
"I could graduate and go into the workplace, but I'm not ready to leave this place," Klaudt laughed. "I've just loved the interaction with all the student-athletes. We're a big family, and I think that's what the university and the athletics department really embodies, so it's been a great ride and I'm happy that's its continuing."
Among the best athletes to compete at K-State, Olympic Silver Medalist and back-to-back NCAA Outdoor Champion high jumper Erik Kynard will also graduate in this 2013 class.
During his collegiate campaign, Kynard was a four-time USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor All-American and was named USTFCCCA Midwest Field Athlete of the Year for the 2011-13's indoor seasons and in 2011's outdoor season.
Coming out of Robert S. Rogers High School in Toledo, Ohio, Kynard was two-time state champion and among the best high school high jumpers in the world.
He could have gone to any university nationwide, but he decided to come to K-State because of its talented coaches and rich tradition in track and field.
"What has meant the most to me about being a student at K-State?" Kynard began, "For me, being a track and field athlete, I would say that there's that legacy here in my respective sport. There's a historical tradition of being an elite athlete with K-State Track and Field."
Kynard, who has continued his training at K-State since the outdoor track and field season ended this summer, will graduate with a degree in Entrepreneurship.
"It was a place where I was able to improve in athletics and I felt like I was going to be able to get a degree in my field," Kynard said about his decision to come to K-State five years ago. "I had the opportunity to go to pretty much any university I wanted to when I was coming out of high school, and I chose K-State because of its tradition in the track and field program. I've been very honored to represent this university's athletics program in my sport and in the academic setting."
Each and every student-athlete graduating today has represented K-State both on the playing field and in the classroom. Often, juggling schoolwork, training and competitions is a balancing act, but these student-athlete's, these 27 competitors, got it done.
From K-State Sports Extra, congratulations, seniors.
FALL 2013 K-STATE STUDENT-ATHLETE GRADUATES:
Joseph Flattery - Economics
Jason King - Marketing
Jalana Childs - Hotel & Restaurant Management
Katarina Leick - Journalism & Mass Communications
Marie Klimova - Animal Sciences & Industry
Hannah Ribera - Industrial Engineering
Whitney Unkefer - Family Studies & Human Services
Laton Dowling - Management
Ethan Hammes - Agribusiness
Andre Jackson - Social Sciences
Stephen Johnson - Criminology
Cornelius Lucas - Marketing
Carl Miles, Jr. - Social Sciences
Dorrian Roberts - Social Sciences
Tavon Rooks - Social Sciences
Robert Rose - Social Sciences
Curry Sexton - Marketing
Tramaine Thompson - Social Sciences
Armogen Walker - Agribusiness
Marcus Heit - Social Sciences
TJ Roberts - Social Sciences
Ben Juffer - Finance
David Klaudt - Accounting
Allison Dorau - Elementary Education
Antonio Granillo - Electrical Engineering
Erik Kynard - Entrepreneurship
Samantha McKnight - Social Sciences
Tristan McCarty - Marketing
Kaitlynn Pelger - Family Studies & Human Services
Courtney Traxson - Psychology