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March 22, 2004

March Student of Month follows best friend to Cowley


March Student of Month follows best friend to CowleyWhen Sarah Area was deciding on a college, she knew a couple of things.


One, she didn’t want to go to Kansas State University “because half of my (senior) class went there.” Secondly, she didn’t want to go to nearby Highland Community College “because the other half went there.”


Area landed at Cowley County Community College by way of her best friend, Grace Hallier. Recently, Area was named Cowley’s March Student of the Month.


Hallier and Area are graduates of Onaga High School in northeast Kansas. Hallier, a year older, came to Cowley after seeing the college’s Concert Choir stop in Onaga during its spring tour in 2001. Area said “they were awesome.”


“I didn’t want a big school,” said Area, a sophomore secondary education major from Havensville. “I came down with Grace on one of her visits. I thought Cowley was a nice place. The campus is really beautiful, and there are a lot of nice people. I’m very pleased with my decision.”


Area didn’t let a strange place keep her from getting involved, particularly this year. She is a student trainer for the athletic department (for women’s basketball and softball), holds a work-study job in the Tiger Deli, is a member of Campus Christian Fellowship, is a Student Ambassador, is president of the Math & Science Club, participates in intramurals, and was a finalist for Homecoming queen.


She holds a 3.94 grade-point average, and she’s been nominated for the Outstanding Student of Arkansas City Award. She also works part-time at Country Mart in Arkansas City, and she’s a big sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Cowley County. She was matched in November 2003 with 7-year-old Stormie Ranzau of Ark City.


Area said she was humbled by the Student of the Month award.


“I was pretty surprised,” said Area, the daughter of Debra Mapes and Ernie Bahret. “It’s a really big honor because there aren’t very many people selected.”


Area, who plans to transfer to Emporia State University to complete her bachelor’s degree, fits the Student of the Month mold.


“I think it’s somebody who works really hard and is very dependable,” she said.

Area said she was influenced by several good teachers at Onaga High School to look at education as a career. After Emporia State, Area wants to be a high school teacher and basketball coach.


“I’d always leaned toward education, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” she said. “During high school, I had some really great teachers, and I always knew I wanted to coach.”


Area, who played several sports at Onaga, said student trainer Lucas Smith introduced her to Cowley head trainer Tatum Carroll.


“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Area said of being a student trainer. “I’ve learned a lot of helpful things.”


Area enjoys 35mm black and white photography and is learning to play guitar. She said she’s changed in the two years since high school.


“I’m more aware of other people’s opinions,” she said. “And I’ve been exposed to different types of people. Coming from a small town, it’s kind of hard to see different backgrounds and cultures.”


Havensville is a community of 120 people seven miles from Onaga, a community of less than 1,000 with a Class 2A high school.


Area, who has a younger sister Diana and younger brothers Blair, Josh, and Dylan, also has learned a lot at Cowley.


“I’ve learned that hard work really does pay off,” Area said. “My adviser, JoLynne Oleson, has been amazing. She kind of adopted me right away. She’s really helped me out a lot.”


Area also has been driven by her mother’s example.


“My mom works so hard, and she has for a long time,” Area said. “She just busts her butt to make sure we have everything we need.”


Area’s mother was just 17 when Sarah was born. She’s a nurse at the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka.


For nearly 18 years, Area didn’t know her father. The two have made up for lost time during the last couple of years.


“I met my dad for the first time on Aug. 16, 2002,” Area said. “My mom told me on my 18th birthday (May 1, 2002). I called him on Aug. 13 and we met on the 16th. It was at McDonald’s in Topeka.


“I was really nervous and kind of intimidated. He’s a big guy. But after we cried a bit, we talked. We have so much in common. We’re both sports nuts, and we’ve actually played softball together several times.”


To celebrate three months with her father, Area decided to get a tattoo on the inside of her left ankle. It’s a scorpion, matching the one her father has on his arm. Area has three tattoos, and her father was present when she got all three.

“I have a cross with a fish on the outside of my right ankle, and a dove on my back shoulder,” Area said. “It’s just something else that we have in common.”