A home for everyone

AbdulRasak and Alicia Yahaya support the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center.

Commitment, inclusion, opportunity and open-mindedness. These four words embody the values of AbdulRasak ’08 in civil engineering and Alicia Yahaya, and serve as guidelines for their professional and personal lives.

During their college careers, Abdul and Alicia were committed to improving their universities and the overall mission of the Black Student Government.

The couple initially crossed paths in 2005 through their involvement in Black Student Government. Abdul was the chair of the Big 12 Council on Black Student Government, and Alicia was the Program Coordinator for the University of Kansas’ Black Student Union.

“Abdul worked so hard on the K-State campus, and I got to be there alongside him, though I attended KU,” said Alicia. “I began to grow a passion for the work he was doing, and now K-State really feels like home.”

Today, Abdul and Alicia own and operate Open Minds Child Development Center, an early childhood education center with three locations in Kansas, and are the parents of three young girls and are expecting a boy in October 2020.

In addition to being a business owner, husband and father, Abdul serves on the K-State Multicultural Alumni Council, which is how he first heard about the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center project.

Abdul advocated for a multicultural student center during his time at K-State, so seeing his dream come true inspired him and Alicia to participate in the process.

“With K-State being one of the last Big 12 institutions to have a multicultural center, this was something that was long overdue,” Abdul said. “To initially be on the student side of actually fighting for it and encouraging the development, and now being on the other side and giving resources and encouraging others to give so students are able to flourish is just full circle.” 

During his time on campus, Abdul was involved in a variety of organizations, and met people of many different backgrounds. While Abdul said the friendships and bonds he formed with people across campus were inspiring, there was never a place where Abdul said people could see the “whole Abdul” and for Abdul to educate people about Nigeria, where he was born.

“The Morris Family Multicultural Student Center allows all of these cultures and abilities and talents to be fostered in one place, so that the whole campus can benefit from everyone. Inclusion and family; that’s what inspiration truly is,” Abdul said.

Together, Abdul and Alicia used the lessons they learned in college to pursue their dreams and provide others the foundations of lifetime success through their business.

With K-State holding a special place in both their hearts, they saw a new opportunity to leave a legacy and commit their hearts to a better future for minority students at K-State and the Manhattan, Kansas, community as a whole by investing in the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center.

“We are working class, but because it meant so much to him I said let’s go into a meeting and be open-minded and see what the options are,” Alicia said. “We were thinking there would only be a two- or three-month option, but we learned there are five-year options, and that made a huge difference. We can be a huge part of this project because there are so many options.”

For the Yahayas, investing in this project was not only a way to give back to K-State, it was an opportunity to bring their values to life and for their shared dreams from their college careers to come true.

“If you look at your dreams and goals as a fire, the fire needs to breathe. It also needs a structure, or firewood. We’ve always had the air to breathe on the K-State campus, but we’ve never had the structure. The Morris Family Multicultural Student Center is the structure that is needed to bring intangible talents into a tangible space. We are finally able to add the fuel to the fire of all the dreams and aspirations of the talented individuals of all backgrounds who come to K-State,” said Abdul.

To learn more about how you can support the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center, click here.

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Mallory Billings

Mallory Billings Senior Development Officer - Engineering


Jenna Brown

Jenna Brown Senior Director of Development - Engineering