By Brandon Steinert
Father and daughter celebrate associate degree completion at Barton Community College at Fort Riley; daughter participates in college commencement before high school graduation
Dawayne Krepel, 42, and his daughter Kathryn, 18, both accepted their associate degrees from Barton Community College at the Fort Riley Education Services commencement ceremony Thursday afternoon in Manhattan.
The duo represents the broad spectrum of modern community college students, as Dawayne, a military veteran, returned to college after his second retirement, and Kathryn received her first college degree two days before her high school graduation.
The idea to begin a college journey together was Dawayne’s brainchild as a way to encourage his daughter to start her college education early, finishing two years of college before most even get started.
“I told her, ‘hey, if you go to college, I'll go back to college,” Dawayne said. “So we made a pact about three years ago that we would do our college together then graduate at the same time. And so that's what led us to Barton.”
Kathryn was able to take the classes as dual credit, which means the curriculum counts toward her high school graduation requirements in addition to college credit. She was able to cover a lot of ground quickly because the courses only last about seven weeks. Further, the classes were covered by a scholarship offered to military service members and their families and dependents.
She said her next step is to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in business.
Dawayne also intends to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and open a virtual reality golf business where golfers can continue to practice through the winter months.
Kathryn said she appreciates her dad’s nudge to get her started, and enjoyed helping him out with math.
“He’s pretty cool,” she said. “I know not many people have the will to go back to college.”
They said the best thing about Barton was the people. During their college pursuits, the youngest Krepel was diagnosed with stage four cancer. The patience, flexibility and understanding of the Barton faculty and staff, they said, made all the difference.
“They worked with us,” Dawayne said. “Barton is a great place to excel either as a soldier or for your kids. I’m definitely pushing Barton because of the respect and concern they showed.”
The Krepels were two of more than 50 students who chose to walk as part of the larger celebration Thursday afternoon. More than 70 students completed associate in arts, associate in science, associate in general studies and associate in applied science degrees at the Fort Riley campus in 2021-22.