The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 17, 1998 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 17, 1998
Page 7
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THE SALINA JOURNAL GRADUATION SUNDAY, MAY 17. 1998'. A7 T KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY JTeen is ahead of her time ^18-year-old will don cap and i^gown today for graduation, Ibut hers will be for college >By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. T KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY-SALINA '' The Salina Journal f, Sarah Anne Knopf likely will make history v^today when she crosses the stage at Kansas VWesleyan University's graduation cere- "* The 18-year-old psychology major is be•J lieved to be the youngest ever Wesleyan stu- <dent to complete a four-year degree, accord- ~"ing to the school. "We could not find any other student who graduated in the time frame she did," college ^spokeswoman RaShelle Hindman said. Technically, according to the school, she'll be a course short, which she'll make up this summer after she turns 19. Still, her pace has been remarkable. The daughter of Dale and Cherie Knopf of rural Saline County, Sarah Knopf finished her four-year program in two years. The home-schooled fireball started at Wesleyan as a sophomore after "quizzing-out" of almost all of her freshman classes. Eligible students can bypass certain courses by passing the College Level Examination Program. She followed this up with killer class loads the past two years. "This semester I'm taking 23 % hours. I usually take that many every semester," she said. As mind-numbing as that sounds, there's more: Knopf also found time to perform in the college choir and chorus, play soccer and hold down a part-time job as a waitress in a local restaurant. "She was born that way," explained her mother, Cherie. Off to a fast start During her early years at Southeast of Saline School, Sarah Knopf often would get impatient at the lesson speed. "She would get in trouble reading ahead in the textbooks," her mother said. Cherie Knopf started home-schooling Sarah and her siblings with Sarah's fifth- grade year, but not because her daughter was frustrated with the pace of the Southeast's curriculum. Professor challenges grads to better society DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Sarah Anne Knopf, 18, took only two years to complete her studies at Kansas Wesleyan University. She will take one class this summer to get her bachelor's degree. Cherie's husband, a driver with UPS, was working nights, sleeping days and never seeing the children. Schooled at home, they got to see more of each other, said Cherie, a former elementary education teacher. For Sarah, it was a perfect fit. "It was fun. It was something new. I always liked challenging myself. I got to do as much homework as I wanted without getting in trouble," she said. "I hated not having anything to do." If that's the case, she had plenty to love about her daily schedule at college. A typical day started with a solid block of classes from 8 a.m. to noon. "At noon I'd have choir and miss lunch, but I picked that up later in the afternoon," she said. Soccer practice went from 3 to 5 p.m. From there she waited tables three to four evenings a week at Applebee's Neighbor- hood Grill & Bar until about 11 p.m. She'd do homework after that, usually studying all night if a test loomed. She chose Wesleyan as much for its quality of education, she said, as for its proximity to home. "I was too young, and my parents didn't want me leaving," she said. In fact, for a few months, she didn't even have a driver's license. "My mom drove me to class," she said. Although she'll graduate in psychology, Knopf initially wanted to study biology, but a single psychology class changed her mind. "I took an introductory course, and I really liked it," she said. "I'm trying to apply for a job at St. Francis (Academy's) new juvenile center." Wherever she ends up, her employer should be warned: Make sure she has plenty to do. Continuing education professor points out problems grads face By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal James Boyer welcomed the graduating class of Kansas State University-Salina into what the called "the world of adult citizenship" Saturday. But it's a violent, uncertain and trying world, Boyer said, and he challenged the students to make society better instead of patting them on the head for completing their degrees in technology and aviation. Boyer, a former gospel singer and a professor of continuing education at KSU-Salina, spoke in machine-gun bursts of alarming statistics, encouraging statements and passionate sentences. "Can you handle the freedom?" he asked the students. "Can you help us transform Salina, transform Kansas, transform the world?" Boyer, who is researching African-Americans in the classroom among other projects, said he planned to come to Kansas for two years. He stayed for< 28. He told the students that they would value their degree years later in their life. "I don't need to remind you how much it cost you to go to college," Boyer said. "But you will never re- gret your investment. Your degree is an official union card. It entitles you to some things that I'm here to remind you of." Those things included paying the rent, paying for insurance and, of course, paying back student loans. Boyer then rattled off some disturbing stats: A rape occurs every 30 minutes and 60 percent of the victims are 18 and younger. HIV and AIDS still continues to infect too many 18- to 25-year-olds. Violence still pervades our families, and suicide is highest among males aged 16-24. "The reason I tell you this is I'm concerned about what you are when you are in the dark," he said. To show that he was concerned, he asked the men in the graduating class to stand and pledge not to abuse their families and be nonviolent throughout their lives. Student challenge Matthew Wagner, president of the student body at KSU-Salina, drove out to the country Friday night to think about his speech. He also challenged the students. "I challenge each one of you to put your trust and faith in something," Wagner said. "Whether that means reflecting over the stars at night or day dreaming in the cubicle in your new office." Going Out Of Business Everything Must Go! Clothing • Fixtures • Building Leta's Casual Shoppe 785-263-1548 or 785-263-3451 Evenings 203 N. Cedar Abilene CARROL HAMILTON I Roofing Company Since 1962 Free Estimates. All Work Guaranteed f.800-864-4637 • 785-452-9224 Mom / She tries to inspire others '.FROM PAGE A1 'i'J -"I didn't fit in," she said. "It was grange. But I had a lot of support from the advisers in the school. They told me I could do it." She never went to the football games, the pep rallies, the school plays. She simply didn't have time. ». "You've got these younger kids Ithat are worried about their ;;sports and their sororities, and I '•was there to get my education," "she said. "The only thing I would "attend were things I could bring :my kids to." ;: After that first semester, Wheel- ;*er began to notice other students ;'who were her age, and she began »t'o make friends, even with the '.'students worried about their Isororities, and she began to feel rlike she was a part of the school. i-t. Wheeler had to squeeze in study- Jlng between taking care of her 'kids and working. Sometimes hav- 'jjig kids was nice: She had a pair of "subjects to study for her early edu- ication classes. But many times it ;was tough. Late at night seemed to ;;be the best time to study. She ''laughs when she was asked about "I just didn't want to work and survive. I wanted to do something that I really enjoyed." Karen Wheeler single mom who will graduate today whether she ever slept. "Not really," she said. Wheeler said she owed it all to her family. "The kids struggled with me," she said. "Everyone had to be patient, and Rachelle had to be mommy's little helper." Rachelle, a freshman at Central High School, just laughed when she was asked what it was like to take care of her siblings. "Um, well, it wasn't what I expected," Rachelle said. "I was like a little housewife. It was a lot harder than I thought." Things are going well for Wheeler. She lives in a home that was extensively rehabilitated by Salina Habitat for Humanity in 1994. Nothing comes easy though. She put in 500 hours of hard labor working on her house. She has spent the past few months since she got her degree substituting'for the Heartland Early Education Program. She will work for the Salina School District next year, and she would like to be a substitute for a while until the twins get older. Then she will begin to think about a permanent teaching job. "I kind of miss it now," Wheeler said of college. "I still go back and holler at some of them over at the school every once in a while. I just didn't want to work, and survive. I wanted to do something that I really enjoyed. I loved working with kids. I wanted to do that." And she wanted to be an example. Not just for her kids, but for anyone who was in the same position she was in a few years ago. "I want all those single mothers to know that if I can do it with three, they can certainly do it with one," Wheeler said. "There's one thing I'll think about tomorrow. That it's finally over. That I finally did it." Artfid Parties & Events V> ' ^^M^ • Arches • Balloon Bouquets • Columns 827-8448 921 Shalimar Dr. behind Southgate Dairy Queen If you pay more than this for YOUR CONPUf ER're paying too much Check out our prices af THE COMPUTER SHOP 1 Pentium Computers starting at $999 1 Complete Pentium II Computers starting at $1,394 785-452-9263 655 E. 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