Rise Up

A new program at Kansas State University creates opportunities for students and businesses to optimize diversity in the workplace.

A new program at Kansas State University’s College of Business Administration brings together high-potential students with business partners looking to improve diversity and inclusion in the business world. Rise Up is a leadership program for exceptional K-State business students who identify with a systemically marginalized and underrepresented group. This may include students who identify as Black/African American, Indigenous/Native American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, multiracial, LGBTQ+ or as having a disability. The first cohort of Rise Up Scholars will begin the program in fall 2021.

“What makes the program unique is that the training, mentorship and community are designed around celebrating diversity and the value-added perspective it provides, while also acknowledging the unique barriers the scholars may face in college and the workplace,” said Olivia Law-DelRosso, assistant dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) in the College of Business. “Through world-class career preparation and academic success training, Rise Up Scholars will not only thrive in college but become leaders on campus and into their business careers.”

Mike and Angela Leikam have given the lead gift to get the Rise Up program off the ground. The investment will support the program and create at least 10 scholarships for Rise Up Scholars. Mike graduated from K-State in 1987 with a degree in accounting and is the president and CEO of Centralized Supply Chain Services, LLC in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We had been wanting to support K-State’s diversity and inclusion efforts in a meaningful way that would be of direct benefit to students,” Leikam said. “We hope the gift will provide students in the program the opportunity to build meaningful skills for their futures through an excellent education and a great college experience that might not have been available to them otherwise.”

Philanthropic support from individuals and companies is the driving force for the success of the program. These donors are Rise Up Partners, who help break down the financial barriers of college by funding scholarships. “In addition, Rise Up Partners serve as mentors, host scholars at their headquarters, lead workshops, serve on the College of Business DEIB Advisory Board and engage in networking events, among other benefits,” Law-DelRosso said. “These opportunities provide connections to business opportunities and open up valuable networks for the scholars to learn and grow.”

“As a Latino, it can be tough to meet and network with people who are in certain industries,” said Alex De-Paz, incoming freshman Rise Up Scholar. “I’m excited that Rise Up will give us the tools that we need to be successful while recognizing and celebrating our culture.”

As a company leader and community members, the Leikams see the overall benefit to funding Rise Up. “Supporting programs like this are really investments in our collective futures,” Leikam said. “We all benefit when people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences become our leaders of tomorrow. This program encourages that development.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Rise Up or want to support the program visit cba.k-state.edu/success/diversity  or contact Olivia Law-DelRosso at olivia@ksu.edu or 785-313-1714 or Matt LaGree at mattl@ksufoundation.org or 785-775-2083.

Mike and Angela Leikam gave the lead gift to get the Rise Up program started.

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Jared Schiel

Jared Schiel Executive Development Officer- Business Administration


Darin Russell

Darin Russell Executive Development Officer – Business Administration