May 12, 2017
Story by Micah Oelze
Barton recognizes Student Ambassadors of the Year
Barton Community College has announced its 2016-17 Brant J. Ballhorst Student Ambassador of the Year awards. Named in memory of Brant J. Ballhorst, the award recognizes two outstanding student ambassadors each year. The winners this year were Kendra Jellison of Topeka and Megan Jirak of Marion.
This year marked the 13th anniversary of the award. The admissions office also named Audrey Mercer of St. John and Brett Purnell of Wichita as the recipients of this year’s “The Rock” award. This award is presented to students who go above and beyond the call of duty in assisting the admissions office. The award recipients were chosen by their peers and Barton’s admissions staff.
Ambassador of the Year: Kendra Jellison
Jellison, a freshman who is returning to Barton next year, is involved in Student Ambassadors and Women’s Golf. She is studying Elementary Education. She is the daughter of Ken and Tammy Jellison of Topeka.
Ambassador of the Year: Megan Jirak
Jirak, a sophomore, is involved in Student Ambassadors, Women’s Basketball and Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to attend Kansas State University in the fall of 2017 to pursue her Bachelor Degree in Animal Science. She is the daughter of Jeff and Tammy Jirak of Marion.
The Rock Award: Audrey Mercer
Mercer, a freshman, is involved in Student Ambassadors, Athletic Training and the Community Service Organization. She plans to attend Fort Hays State University in the fall of 2017 to pursue her Bachelor Degree in Accounting. She is the daughter of Robert and Melonda Mercer of St. John.
The Rock Award: Brett Purnell
Purnell, a sophomore, is involved in Student Ambassadors and Athletic Training. In November, Purnell joined the Army Reserves and is currently in basic training as a part of his next career step. He is the son of Robert and Connie Purnell of Wichita.
About Brant J. Ballhorst and the award
From Smith Center, Ballhorst was a 2002 Barton graduate and former student ambassador. Despite health concerns throughout his time at Barton, he was the model ambassador. He balanced a challenging course schedule and golf team commitment while remaining dedicated to his role as a student ambassador. Ballhorst was a respected peer and cherished friend of many on campus, especially the Admissions Office. His determination and dedication touched the lives of everyone he met.
He graduated from Barton with a degree in pre-pharmacy and attended the School of Pharmacy at the University of Kansas. He was a student at KU until his death on Aug. 5, 2004. He always had a good attitude about his illness and joked that it was good education for his major. He was the son of John and Gayle Ballhorst of Smith Center.
Barton will continue to honor Ballhorst’s achievements, character, personality and work ethic by awarding future Ambassadors of the Year in his memory. A permanent plaque dedicated in his honor is displayed in the corridor of the Kirkman Activity Center on Barton’s campus.