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Barton recognizes 2011-12 Student Ambassadors of the Year
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Ambassador of the Year Award winners (from left) Karisa Kaiser and Reba Hickel and The Rock Award winner Kaitlin Ptacek show off their awards following the annual ambassadors banquet Thursday afternoon.

Barton Community College has announced its 2011-12 Brant J. Ballhorst Student Ambassadors of the Year. Named in memory of Brant J. Ballhorst, the award recognizes two outstanding student ambassadors, Karisa Kaiser and Reba Hickel, both of Hoisington.
A ceremony honoring the recipients was held at noon on Thursday, Barton’s commencement day, in the Plaza de Cavanaugh Room in the Learning Resource Center. The Student Ambassador of the Year award recipients were chosen by their peers and Barton’s admissions staff.  
Director of Admissions Tana Cooper, fighting tears, said choosing the recipients was a difficult task.
“It was the hardest year yet to pick winners,” she said. “You guys have really been awesome.”
Kaiser, a sophomore at Barton, was heavily involved throughout the school year. She participated in Campus Christian Fellowship, Community Student Organization, served as Phi Theta Kappa president and is a member of the women’s tennis team. She plans to continue her education at Fort Hays State University where she will be majoring in elementary education. She is the daughter of Mike and Danah Kaiser of Hoisington.  
Hickel, a sophomore at Barton, is involved in Campus Christian Fellowship, Community Student Organization, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and serves as Student Government treasurer and women’s golf manager. She has accepted a position at Barton Community College as the Barton County Upward Bound secretary and data specialist. She is the daughter of Tom and Rita Hickel of Hoisington.

The Rock Award: Kaitlin Ptacek
The Admissions Office will also honor Kaitlin Ptacek as the recipient of this year’s The Rock Award. The Rock Award is presented to a student who goes above and beyond the call of duty in assisting the Admissions Office. A native of Dorrance, Ptacek is involved in Phi Theta Kappa, Campus Christian Fellowship, Student Leadership and has served as the volleyball manager. She plans to continue her education at Kansas State University, majoring in fine arts with a minor in business.  She is the daughter of Stan and Rene Ptacek of Dorrance. Ptacek was a recipient of the 2010-11 Student Ambassador of the Year Award.

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.
Graduating from Barton with a degree in pre-pharmacy, he was accepted into 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, 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.