Kolleen Gladden: Outstanding Senior Woman

  Monday, May 7, 2018 1:00 PM

Pittsburg, KS

Kolleen Gladden

Unsure in high school what she wanted to do in life, Kolleen Gladden doesn't consider herself a natural success story. 

But this weekend, Gladden will graduate with two degrees, 232 hours of course credit, a 3.92 GPA, and so many accomplishments and accolades that it's difficult to list them all.  

The most recent: Outstanding Senior Woman. 

Gladden, a double major in English and Graphics Communications, is a 2014 graduate of College Heights Christian School in Joplin, Missouri.  

"I applied to just one university: Pittsburg State," she said. "The flat rate tuition was a huge draw and was how I was able to earn two degrees in four years." 

During those four years, she founded the campus chapter of the Christian sorority Gamma Alpha Lambda Sorority Delta, was a member of Honors College, was a student athlete and a member of the University Choir, and was chosen as one of 11 keynote speakers at Pittsburg State's first TEDx event this spring. 

She was elected Vice President of Student Government Association and organized monthly meetings with the university president and fellow SGA officers, collaborated with faculty to allocate funds to campus organizations, and hosted initiatives focused on issues faced by international students.   

"I had so many opportunities to make a large impact," Gladden said. "I like having the ability to make positive change, and I definitely found that here." 

She also has been active in helping to organize volunteers for mission trips in the U.S. and the Middle East and is founder of the Student-City Advisory Council, a group that facilitates weekly meetings with members of the Pittsburg City Commission to discuss pertinent issues and possible solutions. 

"When my high school friends gather around to catch up, they often marvel at the opportunities that Pittsburg State provides that their larger schools simply do not," said Gladden, who has applied to several law schools. 

She has been accepted into 19 and has been offered a combined total of more than $1.2 million in scholarships. 

"When I began the interview process with law schools, they often made note of the many experiences that were only possible through Pittsburg. How many students at a large state school have even met their university president, let alone received a heartfelt letter of recommendation?" she said. 

"Someone like me should not be graduating with a solid resumé, GPA, and a spot held in a top 10 law school," she said. "These things were only possible because of stubborn faculty and staff who believed I was capable of far more than I realized and pushed me to reach my potential." 

"There are faculty members here who introduced me to a world of scholarship I didn't know existed, but that also bonded with me as a friend. I just fell in love with learning here, and with the sense of community." 


As per tradition, Gladden, along with Outstanding Senior Man Nick Bartelli, will deliver remarks to fellow graduates at four separate commencement ceremonies to be held on Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12.  

The selection of an outstanding senior woman and man is a campus tradition that goes back more than 60 years. The selection process begins with nominations by faculty, staff or student organization presidents.  

A committee evaluates the nominees with a review of their academic records, campus involvement, leadership in organizations, their awards and honors, community service, and volunteer work and contributions to the university and the community. 

A brass plaque inscribed with their names will be installed in the Senior Walk in front of Russ Hall in their honor.