A fateful detour

A K-State scholarship brings generations of Wildcats together

In 2007, Samuel Hegarty and his father, Michael, visited a small university in Iowa where Samuel planned to attend college in the fall. During his campus tour, Samuel started second guessing if he had found the right school.

While driving back to their home in Colorado, they began talking about Kansas State University, where Michael graduated in 1982. So they decided to take a detour through Manhattan, home of K-State.

Samuel arrived at K-State on what happened to be engineering open house day. He met a variety of student leaders and learned about all the possibilities at K-State. During his visit, Samuel met Patty Berens, an administrative assistant who talked with him about his academic and career goals. Because of his conversation with Patty, who worked closely with the KSU Foundation, Samuel was offered the last of 10 spots in the inaugural cohort of the Edwin F. and Eunice F. Wambsganss Scholars. Samuel perfectly aligned with scholarship criteria, and the financial support it offered made Samuel’s decision to attend K-State final.

Supporting students through scholarship

For Ed and Eunice Wambsganss, their choice to launch a scholarship program stemmed from a conversation they had while walking their dog. Although they knew they wanted to give to K-State upon their death, they thought, “Why do we want to wait until we are gone to see how our money can help others?”

So Edwin and Eunice set up their scholarships.

Ed graduated from K-State in 1962, beginning his civil engineering career with Martin K. Eby in Wichita. Ed started his own company in 1973, which later became Western Summit Constructors. He feels strongly that his education is one of the driving forces of his business success and wants to offer K-State students the same opportunity he had.

Coming together

Ed and Eunice said that one of their most rewarding feelings is meeting their scholarship recipients. The couple met Samuel for the first time during his freshman year at the Seaton Society Award Celebration. Samuel attended the celebration with his now wife, Jill, a fourth-generation Wildcat.

“The Wambsgansses were so intentional about meeting each of their scholarship recipients and wanted to know us on a personal level,” said Samuel. “I so very much appreciated their gift and their sincerity — and especially their love for K-State.”

The two families have stayed in touched long after Samuel and Jill’s graduation. They often catch up through email, Christmas cards, phone calls and in-person visits. Ed and Eunice even attended the Hegartys’ wedding.

Ed and Eunice hope that by giving back to K-State, their scholarship recipients are encouraged to eventually do the same.
“This experience with our scholars is one that we are so glad that we didn’t miss out on!” the couple said.

For Samuel, receiving the scholarship and attending K-State led to many opportunities. He has now worked as a civil engineer and construction manager for 10 years, utilizing the foundation and connections he established during his time at K-State.

“Ed and Eunice Wambsganss are incredible people, and anyone who has the means to give to K-State should follow their example,” Samuel said. “Put simply, without their donation, I would likely not have attended K-State.”

Written by Ariana Brancato

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