Student Life

Student of the Month

 

Technical, academic programs lured January Student of the Month

 

January 2002

 

Blake StitesBlake Stites has had a busy three semesters at Cowley County Community College.

The sophomore machine and tool technology major from Prescott has played major roles in Cowley’s fall musicals and spring plays. He’s a member of Act One drama club, serves as reporter for Industrial Technology’s Vocational Industrial Clubs of America chapter, competes in forensics, was inducted this fall into Mu Alpha Theta, is on the National Dean’s List, has been nominated for Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges, and is president of Phi Theta Kappa. He also has participated in the college’s annual lip-sync contest Puttin’ on the Hits, and is the reigning Mr. Cinderfella. Recently, Stites was named January 2002 Student of the Month.

"I was really surprised," said Stites, the son of Sue and Owen Stites. "I wasn’t really aware I was up for it. I was nominated in October, so I did the resume and interview process then. When I didn’t get it in
October, I didn’t know I’d be eligible later on."

Stites grew up just 20 miles north of Fort Scott, whose community college Stites has 15 credit hours. He stumbled onto Cowley during a college fair in Ottawa during his senior year.

"My interest was in machine tool, but I knew most of the schools in Kansas that offered it were trade schools, and that didn’t interest me," Stites said. "One school had this chart listing all of the schools in
the state that offered machine tool. I noticed Cowley offered it, so I went to the booth."

Stites did some investigating on his own and discovered Cowley had exactly what he was looking for: a technical program that interested him, and the chance to continue working in theatre. Stites, who holds a 3.95 grade-point average through three semesters, made his first visit to Cowley in spring 2000.
"I met with (former theatre director) Dejon (Ewing) and (machine and tool instructor) Dan (Squires), since those were my two major areas of interest," Stites said. "I took a tour of the campus, and then I was
taken through the back of the Brown Center stage. When I walked out onto that stage and looked out at the seats in the auditorium, I knew this was where I wanted to go."

Stites has been on the Robert Brown Theatre stage a lot since he arrived. He played the role of Frank Butler in the fall 2000 musical "Annie Get Your Gun." He was Ernie Cusack in the spring 2001 play
"Rumors." And he played four characters in this fall’s musical "Big River." And he plans to audition for the spring play.

Stites also is a work-study student for Scott MacLaughlin, Cowley’s director of technical theatre. The rare combination of a technical student and an activity such as drama keeps Stites busy. He’s also hoping it gives him options after completing his bachelor’s degree.

"I love theatre, and I always want to be involved in that," he said. "Once I have my degree (in manufacturing engineering from Pittsburg State), it should be a lucrative career. I’d have no problem settling
into a job and enjoy that the rest of my life. But I’d also like to pursue a career in theatre."

Stites, who has an older brother Nathan and a younger sister Elisa, graduated with a class of 36 from Prescott. He was in the eighth grade when he had his first theatre experience. Ironically, it was his theatre
teacher’s husband who got him interested in machine and tool technology.

"He was a machinist, and we had a technology lab at my school that had a miniature CNC lathe," Stites recalled. "I got my first exposure to running a mill through that. He took me to his place of work near Kansas City. I found it to be very interesting."

Stites is honored to be named January Student of the Month. He said a student of the month was someone who possessed a "positive attitude, is involved, has academic desire, and has the willingness to put in the
hours it takes to get good grades."

He enjoys reading and building and repairing things with his hands. He also likes to listen to music. He’s afforded that chance each week at KSOK 95.9 FM, where he has a board shift and serves as a disc jockey.

For a student who discovered Cowley by accident, Stites said he’s enjoyed every minute of it.

"I love Cowley," he said. "Cowley has been one of the best experiences ever. I really enjoy the atmosphere here. There’s hardly any instructor who won’t go above and beyond the call to make sure you’re doing all
right. They really understand what they’re teaching you. They’re friends, too. And they care about you. That’s one of the big things that is major as far as the way I feel about school. You can always trust and
turn to the faculty and know that they care."