Ella Richards, a Jayhawk dedicated to helping people

Majors: Women, gender and sexuality studies major and psychology, business and human sexuality minors.

Hometown: Topeka, Kansas

What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?

I loved my WGSS 101 class. I was expecting a class of 300 people, but found my way to a room of about 20. We were students from different majors, different family backgrounds, and students from all over the world. It enhanced the class 10 fold.

An image of around 30 students inside a women, gender and sexuality studies classroom.
Inside a women, gender and sexuality studies classroom.

I might go to a Big 12 school, but I really get the small university feel with my class sizes. Plus I get the diversity of a big school too!

How do your majors and/or minors complement each other?

Currently I’m working on a women, gender and sexuality major and I have completed my psychology minor. I feel like both of these can be used to help one another enhance the understanding of the other one. For example, in my women, gender and sexuality classes we often try and examine the things we are reading through different lenses. My minor in psychology provides me with a psychoanalytic lens to look through as well as a basic knowledge about that psychoanalytic lens.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

If I am being totally honest, I am not sure. I’ve taken so many wonderful classes that have inspired me to do so many things that I am torn as to what direction to take. Over the next few years I am taking classes from different colleges, especially a few business classes. I am thinking I might want to become an administrator at a women’s shelter. My number one goal is to help people. How I do that? At this point, I’m not sure. But the classes I get to take now are presenting all kinds of options as well as opportunities to expand my resume and help me figure out my strengths and weaknesses.

What’s your favorite part of campus?

I think my favorite part of campus is the energy it has. I feel it walking to class everyday, surrounded by all kinds of students. If it’s 90 degrees or -5, raining, snowing, or when it’s foggy, there is an incredible energy here at KU. I’m surrounded by Jayhawks, and that is a feeling that can’t be matched.

An image of 9 KU students standing in circle, talking, laughing and hugging as the sun sets in the background.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. College is hard, and there is a huge adjustment period. Try new things.

Take classes just because they sound interesting, that's what I did and all of a sudden I have a different major and on that note don't be afraid to change your major!

But I think my most important thing is this, spend time on campus. Sit on the grass and watch people walking to class while you study, have lunch at the union, study at the library. BE on campus- live on campus. You’ve got four years, and there is no place like the home you will make for yourself on campus.

What’s your best KU memory?

I think my favorite KU memory would be going to my first KU basketball game as a student. I had been to many games before then, but sitting in the middle of everything, being part of something I had admired my whole life, was an incredible experience (Plus it was my birthday). I was simply sitting in the middle of the greatest place on Earth. You think Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, you obviously haven’t been to Allenfield House.

Image on the left ins the entrance to the court at Allen Fieldhouse. Ella Richards and a male student pose in KU t-shirts under the words "Pay Heed, All Who Enter. Beware of "The Phog". Image to the write is Ella Richards and a female student wearing KU basketball jerseys.

What is the benefit of studying in the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences?

I love studying with students that have such a variety of backgrounds. We all bring something unique to class.

It's so cool to see people taking so many different paths to get to really amazing careers.

Often times I’ll meet and hear about someone’s plans and we will be going in a similar direction with what we want to do, but taking two  different paths to get there. The chance to meet and know students in such a variety of areas of studies also allows me to investigate things I didn’t know were on option. Maybe they took a really incredible sociology class that I wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for the diversity of passions in my classes.

How do you recharge your batteries?

I really like going and sitting by Potter lake. I take a book and blanket and just go and be. I can hear the activity of campus, but am in a bubble of peace and calm. It’s like nothing else.

Image of Potter Lake in the foreground. The Campanile is in the background in the center, and the sun is rising to the left.
Sunrise over Potter Lake. Saturday, August 27th, 2016.

What motivates you?

My Parents. They have worked so hard to help me to be where I am. They want to see me do my best, and I want to make them proud. Myself and my surroundings. I will sit in the library and see other students studying, working on projects, and being productive. I see them, and it inspires me to focus and do my work. It pushes me to be the best that I can. I also know that I only have four years on this campus, I want to make the most of every single moment that I have here, and, for me, that includes succeeding.