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October 10, 2013

Talented artist selected as October Student of the Month


Awarded several scholarships to attend Cowley College, sophomore Kara Thomas has lived up to her end of the bargain by posting a grade point average of 4.0. The art major from El Dorado, KS was recently recognized for her stellar work in the classroom and around campus by being named Cowley College’s October Student of the Month.

Kara ThomasThomas is the daughter of Rodney and Ronda Thomas. Grandparents are, Pat and Roy Thomas of El Dorado, and Larry and Marie Shelinbarger of Bel Aire, KS. She has one sister, Jessica 23, and a brother, Rodney 17.

She is engaged to her fiancé Christopher Gauntt, who is currently at a Marine boot camp in San Diego, CA until Nov. 27.

Prior to attending Cowley, she went to school at El Dorado High School. While in high school, Thomas was involved in Student Council, Kansas Association of Youth, World Culture’s Club, and dance committees. She was also involved in art.

Her first time showing her art work came in the first grade when she had a color pencil drawing of a giraffe on display at the Coutts Art Museum in El Dorado.

Her artwork has developed over the years and she was awarded the National Gold Medal at the Scholastics Art and Writing competition for a charcoal drawing she did prior to her senior year of high school. The piece ended up on display at the World Financial Center in New York.

Along with receiving a tuition scholarship for her work shown at the Scholastic Art Show in Wichita, Thomas also received a books scholarship from Cowley College for a portfolio she had on display at the school’s Fine Arts Day.

Instead of attending the community college in El Dorado, Thomas decided Cowley was the right choice for her.

“I toured Butler and just didn’t enjoy it as much as Cowley,” Thomas said. “The people at Cowley seemed a lot more personable and have a motivation to want kids to come here.”

At Cowley, Thomas has immersed herself in many activities and clubs. She is in Phi Theta Kappa, Vice President of Art and Design Club, and a Cowley Student Ambassador. She is also a member of the Cowley Movie Club, in IMPACT, and is a work study at the Tiger Deli.  

All the while, Thomas maintains a 4.0 GPA and was on the President’s Honor Roll for the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters.

With a fiancé at boot camp, Thomas is glad to have people to lean on at Cowley.

“I love it here because I have a lot of support,” Thomas said. “If I can’t make it home my boss (Kathy McDonald) and the professors in the Art Department are really supportive.”

Kathy McDonald, manager of the Tiger Deli, is proud of Thomas’s accomplishments.

“I knew when Kara first walked into the deli last year that she would be everything I hoped for in a work study student,” McDonald said. “She is a Great worker, keeps good grades, smart, concise, and has an awesome attitude. She is always polite, and I have found out she is also an amazing artist.” 

She has three art pieces on display in the large gallery at Baden Square in Winfield until October 24. Along with drawing, Thomas also enjoys oil painting.

She originally thought of pursuing art education, but is thinking of changing her degree to nursing to make it easier to find work with a future husband in the military.

“Christopher is the most influential person in my life. He is the strongest willed person I have ever met,” Thomas said. “I am in awe of his commitment and dedication to serve our country in the armed forces. Besides his influential actions, he has always supported me in my decisions and pushed me to my full potential. I don't believe I would be where I am now if it wasn’t for his motivation.”

Through her hard work and dedication, Thomas is thrilled to be named Cowley College’s October Student of the Month.

“I have tried to show what I am capable of and take advantage of what Cowley has to offer,” Thomas said. “I am proud to earn this honor with so much going on in my life.”