Scholarship empowers student to give community a fresh look.
A three-phase beautification project could be on the horizon for Riley Avenue. The main thoroughfare for Ogden, Kansas, which serves as an access point for Fort Riley military base, is a focus of K-State student Alicia Hunter’s studies and professional internship.
As an intern with the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hunter has played a key role in redevelopment of the avenue. She enlisted fellow K-State regional and community planning students as collaborators on initial designs and will pursue construction of the designs through her internship.
“There’s something about actually knowing what it’s like on day-to-day tasks,” Hunter said. “The community gets to work with passionate, skilled volunteers, and I appreciate an opportunity to help others get experience on a project they might not get elsewhere.” Opportunity is a theme throughout Hunter’s academic career. She recently added a second internship with the Flint Hills Regional Council and plans to pick up a third this fall with the City of Manhattan, Kansas. When she decided to study community planning, her journey to Kansas State University was aided by opportunities like the Ray Willis Regional and Community Planning Scholarship.
“I do depend on scholarships to be able to afford school,” Hunter said, adding that she is grateful for the investment in her future career. Ray Willis, a 1971 graduate of K-State’s regional and community planning program, created the scholarship to help diversify the program’s student body by encouraging underrepresented populations. Now working in Chicago as director of community planning and development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Willis wanted to give back to his alma mater and make a difference for others.
“Mr. Willis’ endowed scholarship fund is a catalyst for the college to reach minority graduate students,” said Stephanie Rolley, department head and professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning. “Issues facing our communities must be addressed with inclusiveness and that begins with a more diverse student population.”
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