Growing up in Kansas City, Courtland Triplett always knew he wanted to bring positive change to the world but struggled to find the right path to achieve that goal. After carefully considering his options, he found that path in government, and at KU, he discovered a program and people dedicated to equipping him with the tools necessary to tackle real-world problems faced by communities at home and across the globe. “If you want to make a difference,” Courtland said, “it starts now, and it starts with you.”
Meet Courtland, a Political Science major with minors in Journalism and Public Administration, and learn about his decision to become a Jayhawk, collaborating and growing alongside peers in the College, and his mission to do good through work in the government.
Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?
I am originally from Kansas City, Kansas. I spent the majority of my life growing up in the city before my family decided to move to Olathe. I made the decision to come to KU after hearing about the amazing Political Science program offered at KU. KU is also close to home which had a major influence on my final decision.
Why did you choose your major and minors? And how do they complement each other? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?
Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to make a positive change in the world. There are many ways that people go about making a difference in the communities around them and I really struggled to figure out what exactly I could do to add to these changes. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that government was the best medium for me to both direct and support the positive changes in communities all over the world.
My minors add to my knowledge of governance by teaching me about the various aspects of democracy that have an impact on policy. I believe this combination will help me to best serve people in the future.
What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?
Introduction to Public Administration is significant to me because it introduced me to planning for urban communities. I got a sense of what the unique challenges of governing a city would be. I also started to develop a Strategic Action Plan for Kansas City with the skills I received in this course. I discovered ways to highlight structural problems in the city and come up with inventive ways to tackle them.
What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?
The most important benefit of studying in the College for me is having the opportunity to learn from my peers. Each of them has their own unique perspective and the College acts as a forum for us to exchange our ideas and discover more about the world we live in.
Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?
It is difficult to name just one. There are many people who have supported me here at KU and each of them have inspired me both personally and professionally. Anne Wallen, Mary Klayder, Kirsten Andrews, Genelle Belmas, and Lindsey Deaver are among those who have made a significant impact on me.
What would you tell your freshman self?
If you want to make a difference, it starts now, and it starts with you.
Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or have you been involved in any KU organizations? If so, which ones, and what was that experience like?
Yes! I have served on several different boards and committees through Student Housing, Student Senate, RiseKU and Multicultural Student Government. Outside of campus, I have been fortunate enough to serve on the board of directors of the United Way of Douglas County and intern in the district office of Congressman Kevin Yoder. In addition to these honors, last summer I was selected for the Hoover Institute’s Summer Policy Boot Camp at Stanford University. Each of these experiences have contributed to my success thus far. Some were more difficult than others, but each of them has given me the tools to make positive changes on this campus and in the communities I care deeply about.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
Absolutely nothing (for a year)! But I will most likely focus my energy on community building in Kansas City before attending graduate school to get an MPA.
What motivates you?
Simply put, I want to see a more equitable world. I hope that I can serve to mitigate the struggles people face with the work I will do in my life.
Be like Courtland. Look for ways to make a positive change, and find majors and minors that fit your personal and professional goals. For more information, visit Political Science, the School of Public Affairs & Administration, and the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. Also, check out Student Housing, Student Senate, RiseKU, Multicultural Student Government, the Hoover Institute’s Summer Policy Boot Camp, and the United Way of Douglas County.