An honor with opportunity

Emily JuhnkeBeing one of the highest academic achievers in a college class is not an easy task, especially if a student is involved in many extracurricular activities.

The Sibberson Award, established by two generous sisters, T. Erna & Gretchen Sibberson, shows students hard work throughout your college career is worth it.

First given in 2002, the award was established to provide a stipend to the top Washburn student at graduation each year, with the intent of allowing that student to pursue future plans such as tuition for graduate studies, travel expenses or start-up capital for a business.

“I know the decision on who receives the award is not made lightly, so it was a huge honor,” said Emily Juhnke, the fall 2014 award recipient. “The award shows hard work is valued, and it also comes with great opportunity and responsibility to continue representing Washburn.”

She is doing just that, but on an international level.

After graduation in December, Juhnke left for Cape Town, South Africa where she serves as a public relations and communications intern for the Hillsong Africa Foundation, which works to serve and restore vulnerable people and situations in their communities through projects in areas such as family strengthening, childhood development, skills development and relief and response. She became familiar with the organization during a study abroad experience called Semester at Sea where she visited 16 cities in 12 countries while living and taking courses on a ship.

“I am grateful for the Sibberson Award, because I will be able to use it to pay back student loans and use some of it to help me with expenses while interning in Africa,” she said.

In addition to making exceptionally high grades at Washburn, Juhnke was involved in Student Media, Nonoso and the Washburn University choir. As a freshman in 2012, she was one of two students asked to be part of the Washburn University High-Impact Team which created the Washburn Engage Initiative giving the campus opportunities for service and engagement with community partners. She has also volunteered her services through her church and as a volunteer for vacation Bible school.

“I always try to put my best effort into whatever I do,” she said. “I think having a fulfilling and successful experience in college requires both being committed to your academics and being active in other activities and experiences as well. It’s important to be involved inside and outside of the classroom.”

Juhnke also took on jobs as a student caller at the Washburn University Foundation and as a social media intern in the University Relations office at Washburn.

Awards like the Sibberson are important for universities to reward student achievement.

“Washburn focuses every day on student success,” said Randy Pembrook, vice president for academic affairs at Washburn. “It is important and gratifying to recognize students when they work hard to reach the highest levels of academic achievement and service to the institution. The Sibberson Award is an opportunity for us to honor these exceptional students who stood out in their college career and support them in their future endeavors.”

She said she is appreciative of the scholarships and assistance she received while in school and is thankful Washburn is committed to helping their students succeed during their experience in college and beyond.

“My education and experiences at Washburn have given me the desire not only to pursue a career in the mass media field, but also to intentionally search for a job that will allow me to make a positive and lasting impact on others,” Juhnke said in her essay application.