Barton at Fort Riley Student Awarded Grant; Intends to Study Law at Fort Hays State University

Story by Joe Vinduska
Photo by Brandon Steinert

Great Bend, KS- Barton Community College at Fort Riley student Avrey Thoman was recently awarded the $500 “Stay the Course” grant from educational resource company John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Thoman has attended Barton since Oct. 2019 and graduated in May. She is transferring to Fort Hays State University this fall to major in law and minor in criminal justice and will receive a certificate in international relations.

“I cannot express my gratitude in words,” she said. “I am also extremely grateful for Janet Balk, Amber Bebout, and Melissa Stevens. All three of them have helped me tremendously during my time at Barton. In their own ways, each of them has devoted some of their time to me and to help me. I would not be where I am academically had it not been for them. I would also like to thank my former English and Creative Writing teacher Kase Johnston. He helped me find my passion for writing again and even though it’s been a while since I’ve been in his classes, I’m still grateful.”

Barton Adjunct Math Instructor Amber Bebout nominated Thoman for the grant.

“When I first heard about the grant, I was interested in nominating a student as I know many students are in some tough spots right now with the pandemic and just day to day life occurrences,” she said. “When I first met Avrey, I immediately saw in her a determined, hardworking student. In the last year, I have seen her persevere through some tough situations and I know how important earning her degree is to her and what this support would mean for her. When I received the email notifying me that Avrey had been selected, I was so excited because Avrey has never lost sight of her desire to continue her studies despite the tough situations that have arisen for her. So, this is a bright spot on the horizon for her and she is so deserving of this grant.”

Wiley Account Manager Debbi Sewade said the program awarded 200 students $500 scholarships to help alleviate stress and clear pathways to their success during an unprecedented school year filled with hardships for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The grants are meant to address whatever challenges were holding students back, whether it be lack of technology, illness, reduction in work hours, etc.,” she said. “I was so delighted that a student from your school was selected. I hope this small gesture by Wiley makes a difference in the students’ lives.”

Thoman said she faced many hardships due to the pandemic.

I lost my job, my boyfriend was furloughed, I couldn’t leave my house for the longest time,” she said. “This grant is going to help me get back on my feet. As I mentioned, I faced many hardships due to the pandemic, but I also faced other challenges during the pandemic. It’s been quite the wild ride, but this grant is going to help push me back in the right direction and find my footing.”

For more information on Barton at Fort Riley visit  For more information on the “Stay the Course” grant program visit

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