Green & Gold Scholarships $19,000 in Scholarships Awarded to Kansas Students


The Kansas Independent College Foundation received 55 nominations for its collection of merit-based scholarships. A volunteer panel of nine judges helped select the 22 winners. Together these students represent 9 of KICF’s member schools with an exceptional average GPA of 3.7.

Each nominated student had to submit detailed essays about their leadership training, their future career goals, and why they chose an independent option for their higher education. A selection of quotes from the winning essays are included in this release.

In celebrating our 2021 Green and Gold Scholarships winners, KICF President Matt Lindsey says, "The colleges in KICF 'punch above our weight' in a number of areas. We're consistently at the top of the state in producing graduates in several fields - business, health care, teaching, fine and performing arts, and of course, ministry and faith. First generation students and students of color are more likely to graduate - and graduate on-time - from non-profit colleges like ours than other types of institutions. And we have robust programs designed to serve students who come back to school to complete their degree and who serve in our nation's armed services. These scholarships showcase those strengths. I'm excited that, for the second year in a row, these students showcase the best and brightest, not just in Kansas, but in the whole United States.”

KICF awards these scholarships to celebrate our diverse and talented student community who demonstrate a commitment to excellence, virtue, and integrity. Please join us in congratulating our 2021-2022 cohort of winners, (noted below with hometown, major(s) and institutions).

Minority Student Scholarship (5 @ $1,000 each):

Selia Avila (Wichita) – Nursing, Newman University

Nhanh Dao (Wichita) – International Studies, Newman University

Jenny Duong (Wichita) – Biology, Newman University

Makena Pang (Pukalani, HI) – Elementary Education, MidAmerica Nazarene University

Shayla To (Wichita) – Biology & Pre-Med, Newman University; When asked what made her independent experience special, she said, “Newman provided the resources for my success, allowing me to achieve and dream throughout my undergraduate experience while meeting passionate educators, advisors, and fellow students. I am one of the lucky ones, able to pursue further education and achieve the dream of serving others…” 

First Generation Scholarship (5 @ $1,000 each):

Madeline Alvarez (Viola) – English, Newman University

Haleigh Marcon (Newalla, OK) – Applied Psychology & Art, Ottawa University

Stephen Nguyen (Wichita) – Secondary Education, English, Newman University

Daegiona Wilson (Wichita) – Communications, Journalism, and New Media, Southwestern College

Daniel Zavala (Olathe) – Liberal Arts & Sciences, Donnelly College.  

American Service Member Scholarship (1 @ $1,000):

RobertMueller (Milford) – Management & Ethics, Manhattan Christian College

Better Life Degree Completion Award (1 @ $1,000):

Jonathan Hibbard (Manhattan) – Biblical Leadership, Manhattan Christian College 

Future Leaders in the Arts (2 @ $750 each):

Johanna Beck (McPherson) – Writing, Editing, and Theatre Arts, Sterling College

Caleb Kliewer (Hillsboro) – Graphic Design & Youth Ministry, Tabor College

Future Leaders in Business (2 @ $750 each):

Maea Ploetz (Gardner) – Accounting, University of Saint Mary

Austin Matsoff (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Business Administration, MidAmerican Nazarene University. Austin was inspired by an English professor and, in his words, “I applied and accepted a job as a writing tutor at the Academic Success Center at MNU…I have made multiple connections through that job, and I have been able to feel more at home at MNU every day because of it.”

Future Leaders in Education (2 @ $750 each):

Sydney Bangert (Kingman) – Elementary Education, Sterling College

Audrey Denges (Corona, CA) – Education & Biology, MidAmerica Nazarene University

Future Leaders in Faith (2 @ $750 each):

Carolanne Blecha (Mulvane) – Biblical Leadership & Family Counseling, Manhattan Christian College

Carson Graham (Overland Park) – Counseling, Manhattan Christian College. In explaining why he chose an independent higher education, he shared, “Though MCC is a very small school, I decided this was the best place to come to get educated on counseling as the professor, Dr. Delort, is one of the best in the country. I wanted to be the smartest and most effective counselor I can be, I want to student under the smartest and best counselors I can find. Those counselors call MCC home.”

Future Leaders in Health Professions (2 @ $750 each):

Tara Sheets (Azle, TX) – Biomedicine & Psychology, Tabor College

Elizabeth Vaughn (Kansas City) – Applied Psychology, Ottawa University

The scholarship reviewers who volunteered to help KICF name these winners have a diverse collection of business, government, and education expertise. They are: Ryan Archer, Account Executive, IMA, Inc., Pam Clinton, Director of Operations, Shelden Architecture, Chuck Duske, Regional Vice President of Academic Partnerships, Acadeum, Carrie Emberson, Marketing & Business Development Manager, BKD CPAs & Advisors, Heather Morgan, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, Mischel Miller, Director of Teacher Licensure & Accreditation, Kansas Department of Education, Lauri Panu, Director of Business Development-Midwest, Apogee, Doug Penner, Former President, Kansas Independent College Association & Foundation,and Katie Sawyer, State Director, Office of U.S. Senator Roger Marshall.

Details, including the winners’ GPAs and scholarship eligibility rules, can be found at:


Located in Topeka, the Kansas Independent College Foundation is a 501(c)3 that develops and enhances the competitive standing of its 20-member independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities and strives to assure opportunity and choice in higher education for all students. For more information on the Foundation, please contact Jesyca Hope at 785-235-9877 or