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Pitt State president makes personal connections as pledges top $3 million

His ultimate goal is to raise $8 million for student scholarships, but at each stop along his 12-day, 800-mile bike trip across Kansas, PSU President Dan Shipp also is making connections.

He is focused on getting to know alumni, current students, and Pitt State partners along the way.

“With each person I’ve met on this trip, I’m continually reminded how connected we truly are all — from alumni who have shared their memories of being at Pitt State 50 years ago, to community college presidents whose graduates are heading our way for the next part of their education, to a couple of recent grads who wanted to hop on their bikes and get to know the new guy and support this idea of raising money for future students. It’s been very gratifying, very inspiring,” Shipp said.

Among them: Wichita resident Dan Alcala (BST ‘73), who was back at Pitt State last week for a milestone event — his Half Century Reunion — and who showed up to meet him at a gathering along the route in Wichita on Saturday.

“With Dan making this trip, it’s really good he’s able to get out into the community and see alumni that may not have been back to school in awhile to talk about what he’s doing,” Alcala said. “With state cuts, and inflation where it’s going, these funds will really help students coming in. It’s a really great plan and we’re looking forward to helping out.”

Alcala, once a member of the Pitt State Cheer Team, decided to don a Pitt State Gorilla costume and get on a bike for the first time in years to lead the pack out of town.

By contrast, two very recent graduates showed up to meet him and ride, too: Colin Potluri and Clayton Crellin, both members of the Class of 2021.

“I’m an avid cyclist, and I’m a Gorilla — and once a gorilla, always a gorilla,” Potluri said. “But I also wanted to get to know the new president.”

The two biked with him on the stretch from Wichita to Hutchinson on Sunday.

“This is incredible. I’m a teacher, I went to Pitt State to become a teacher, and I just want to pay that forward,” said Potluri, who teaches at Newton High School. “Raising money for this cause is awesome. Educating the future is what I’m all about.”

Riding with Shipp on the stretch from Hutchinson to Pratt on Monday was Jason Wesco, president of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, headquartered in Pittsburg.

“My connection to Pitt State most recently has been working with Dr. Shipp on all kinds of projects around improving the health of the region,” Wesco said. “We’re really glad he thinks Pitt State has a role to play in that.”

A few who turned out to greet and encourage him are still students, like Tarynn Brenner, who just completed her junior year as a Business Management major. She helped organize a community service project for Shipp in her hometown of Wichita after learning of his desire to want to give back. On Saturday afternoon, they spent a few hours cleaning the banks of the Arkansas River.

And, like Kacey White, a student in the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing at Pitt State who is from Park City, Kansas — a suburb of Wichita.

“I think it’s really awesome that Dan cares about the students so much that he’s biking across Kansas for us and trying to raise money for us,” she said.

Next up:

Tuesday, he’ll head from Dodge City to Garden City, where he’ll meet supporters at a gathering at the Flat Mountain Brewhouse, 207 N. Main, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, he’ll head to Oakley and then on to Colby, where he’ll be at a gathering at Twisters, 735 E. College Dr., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday, he’ll head to Goodland, where he’ll be at a gathering at Shiraz, 824 W. U.S. Highway 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

He’ll wrap up the ride at the Colorado line with his wife and sons on Friday.

Learn more and register for a gathering at  

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