BEST competition brings the best to WSU

9:14:17 AM CDT - Thursday, November 03, 2005

By Chase Willhite

Three years ago when a faculty member at Ambassadors for Christ Academy in Bentonville, Ark., told Megan Gallagher, Dan Schossow and the rest of the school's BEST robotics team they would be competing that year in the Kansas BEST competition at Wichita State University, there was a common reaction.


BEST from Arkansas
Photo by David Dinell
Because of their experience at WSU competing on an Arkansas team at the Kansas BEST robotics, Megan Gallagher, left, and Dan Schossow, made their decision to pursue their academic career at WSU.
"None of us really knew anything about Wichita or Wichita State," Schossow said. "I'd been through Kansas City before, but that was the closest I'd come."

Now, Schossow and Gallagher are much more familiar with WSU, as both are in their first semesters as Shocker freshmen.

"When I first heard where we'd be competing, it never really entered my mind that this is where I'd come to college someday," said Schossow, who is majoring in electrical engineering. "But after competing here in the BEST competition for two years, I loved the university and I knew this was where I wanted to come."

Both were impressed by WSU's campus, its academics and its cooperative education program.

The main reason they came, though, was the people they met while visiting campus.

"When we were here for the BEST competition, we got to meet people from the faculty and the administration," Gallagher, who plans to major in biology, said. "They were outgoing, they answered our questions and really made us feel very comfortable at WSU."

Schossow agreed, saying that his visit to WSU was the first time anyone from a university had taken a personal interest in him and his future plans.

As seniors at Ambassadors for Christ, a private, college-preparatory academy, both students made the five-hour trip to the Wichita State campus to compete in the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational.

It wasn't long before both made their decisions to attend WSU. The next step was telling their parents.

"I was the first one of my siblings to really branch out and leave the area," Schossow said. "But my parents understood that WSU was the best place for me and were glad I wanted to challenge myself."

Gallagher's parents took a little more convincing.

"I think they were hesitant at first, and asked me several times if I was sure I wanted to go out of state," Gallagher said. "But when we compared all the advantages, WSU was clearly on top."

Gallagher also had another worry. In high school, she and Schossow were part of a graduating class of eight. Coming to WSU would mean being at a university with more than 14,000 students.

"I was terrified," she said. "In my mind this university was so huge. But it didn't take long to get used to it and I'm very comfortable now."

Looking to immerse themselves in campus life, neither student has wasted any time getting involved.

Schossow is a member of Engineering Council, and both students are members of the Student Ambassador Society.

"Coming to Wichita State has been everything I expected and more," Schossow said. "I probably never would have found out how great WSU is if not for coming to compete in the BEST program."

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