POET Never Satisfied

Class of 2018 Scholars Possess Drive to Excel

When Anna Haydock was growing up in urban California, she noticed that not all of her classmates had the same opportunity to receive a strong education. Barriers both in the educational system and at home meant that many students fell through the cracks.

The lack of funding for math and science books often meant some students didn’t have exposure to curriculum in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She also noticed that many of her classmates were at a disadvantage because of economic disparities at home.

“I have seen many students I went to school with, from first grade to senior year, just disappear. One had to stay home and watch their siblings because their mom/dad/guardian had to work two jobs to provide,” Haydock wrote in her essay application for POET’s 2018 Never Satisfied Scholarship Program.

Today, Haydock, an engineering student at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, plans to start a nonprofit organization to address those barriers and economic disparities.

“It is my goal to address this inequality, and I will never be satisfied until each child/youth has equal exposure to every opportunity,” Haydock writes.

Haydock is one of ten recipients of POET’s second annual Never Satisfied scholarship program. As part of the application process, students addressed why they are “Never Satisfied” with the status quo.

And it’s clear from these students’ goals and aspirations that they meet the mark. They’re bold. They’re driven. They’re passionate. They’re going places, and POET is proud to help them get there and achieve their goals.

Each Never Satisfied scholar received $5,000 toward his or her fall 2018 semester at a college or university. One scholarship was reserved for a student who has a parent, grandparent, sibling or aunt/uncle who works at any POET location.

Scholars visited the POET Sioux Falls campus in May to learn more about POET and to shadow team members in their area of expertise. This year’s scholarship class is full of potential, and we are excited to help these inspiring students on their journeys!

Watch POET’s social media channels for videos about the scholars this fall. For more information about POET’s Never Satisfied campaign, visit


Kofi Kuta Amusah
Hometown: Champlin, Minn.
Major: Finance and Entrepreneurial Management
School: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Kofi was born in Ghana, in west Africa, before moving to Minnesota when he was young. His experience being surrounded by systematic poverty in Ghana hasn’t left him. Kofi is using his passion for economics and statistics, combined with his motivation to help people in Ghana and other third world countries battle poverty, to launch an international non-profit. “Being surrounded by individuals who lived without proper health care, education and the opportunity for development for so long inspires me to start my own international nonprofit organization,” he writes. His multistep plan for the nonprofit involves collaboration with like-minded professionals and listening to communities impacted by these economic hardships.

Sarah Kingsbury
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
Major: Speech Pathology and Audiology/Comparative Religion
School: Miami University (Ohio)

Sarah is passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking. Through her blog, “Unspoken Issue,” she is helping to educate friends, family members and others about the dangers of labor and sex trafficking. “Many people living in the United States do not think that human trafficking issues apply to them, but multiple cities in Ohio with large populations and centers of travel are hubs for victims to be trapped. I believe that raising awareness is the first step.” As part of her work, Sarah also collaborated with the Ohio Attorney General and the Humanities Department at her university to produce a seminar focused on human trafficking.

Regan Ragsdale
Hometown: Holliday, Mo.
Major: Ag Business
School: University of Missouri

Regan’s passion for the agricultural industry comes from growing up on a corn, soybean and cattle farm. Now, she wants to use her speaking skills to educate the public about the importance of agriculture. “Multiple generations of our family have been engaged in farming. The passion that my family has had for this way of life has been a motivator for me to be an ‘ag’vocate,” she writes in her essay. Her purpose for “agvocating” is to talk about how “the advent of biofuels, specifically ethanol, has served to change agriculture forever. … Farmers have always fed the world and today they are fueling it.”

Brett Ries
Hometown: Watertown, S.D.
Major: Criminal Justice and Political Science
School: University of South Dakota

Brett is using his enthusiasm for leadership and public service to change the world around him. And he’s starting today. He is running for the South Dakota State Legislature at the age of 20. If elected, he would be 21 at the time he takes office, making him the second-youngest elected legislator in the state’s history. “This would send empowering messages: Youth deserve a seat at the table, and we can accomplish our goals here in South Dakota.” Brett wants to change the conversation around politics in the state and to advocate for change in the criminal justice arena to tackle issues such as overcrowded facilities and a more rehabilitative approach for non-violent offenders.

Broden Wanner
Hometown: Colman, S.D.
Major: Computer Science
School: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Brody thrives on innovation. In fact, he says that he has “an unmitigated love for problem solving” and finding solutions. He wants to take his computer programming skills to design a personalized learning model for students in the U.S. While growing up in rural South Dakota, he saw firsthand how onesize-fits-all learning models and approaches to education weren’t ideal. There’s often little help for students who fall behind, he says. He wants to design a program that adapts the curriculum for each student. “By having something that dynamically adjusts to every student, we can begin to offer a better environment for students to learn in,” he writes.

Kiara Kay Smith
Hometown: Howe, Ind.
Major: Pre-Medicine
School: Purdue University

When Kiara’s twin sister, Arianna, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11, doctors were initially unsure how to diagnose her condition. Even at that young age, Kiara began researching cancer on her own to try to make sense of it all and to combat her own anxiety. Eventually, Arianna was diagnosed with a genetic disease called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS), a rare disease characterized by low levels of circulating red blood cells. That was the start of Kiara’s interest in medical research. She continued to research medical issues throughout high school, and also organized blood drives and fundraisers to raise awareness for cancer. She now plans to study laboratory science in preparation to attend medical school. “With my work, I plan to identify and address genetic markers for disease. I hope to be able to say that because of me, fewer families feel the helpless fear and desperation that accompanies diseases like AHUS and cancer.”

Anna Haydock
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
Major: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
School: South Dakota School of Mines

Anna saw firsthand while growing up in Fresno, Calif., how some students fell through the cracks because of economic disparities. She saw one student after another fall out of the educational system, whether it was from needing to stay at home and watch their siblings because their parents had to work two jobs to provide for the family, or lacking encouragement at home to stay in school. “My goal to address the issues causing exposure to opportunity disparity is to start a nonprofit that combats these barriers and gives each student the fair chance to pursue STEM careers.” Anna’s nonprofit, STEM for the Children, will focus on making sure all students have equal exposure and opportunity to study STEM. “From traveling demonstrations, to scholarships, to safe spots children go to have their educational dreams fostered, STEM for the Children will not let any student feel unheard, uneducated and like they lack the ability to contribute to their community and society.”

Sarah Allevato
Hometown: Apex, N.C.
Major: Psychology
School: North Carolina State University

Sarah is studying psychology to help people who suffer from depression, and she also has a vision to change the stigma around mental illness. “I believe the difference a psychologist can make is unparalleled. Other interventions just cut the stem but a psychologist pulls out the roots,” she writes. Sarah also aspires to be a mental health advocate. “I will take action to change the large-scale structural and attitudinal barriers that exist in our society that are preventing the mentally ill from having their best chances in life. I want to help eliminate the social stigma that tapes mouths shut and discourages confession,” she writes.

Emily Saeugling
Hometown: Atlantic, Iowa
Major: Animal Science
School: Iowa State University
POET-related winner

For Emily, agriculture is the connection across many of her life experiences, including her future goals. She plans to use that drive to look at what agriculture can do to solve world hunger. Emily credits many of her life experiences so far as leading her to this goal. “As I got older, I had the opportunity to show cattle and pigs even though I lived in town. This fueled my love for agriculture,” she writes. Emily also had the opportunity to write a paper on solving malnutrition in India. Through this experience, she realized she could draw upon her passion for agriculture and use her strengths in communication and leadership to find sustainable solutions for world hunger. After studying Animal Science at Iowa State University, Emily’s goal is to study agricultural law.

Kelsey Koupal
Hometown: Brandon, S.D.
Major: Communication Sciences and Speech Disorders
School: University of South Dakota

Kelsey’s vision to change the world has always been to improve the lives of those with intellectual disabilities. Through her studies at USD, she is preparing to be a speech language pathologist (SLP) and is working toward designing a mobile application that would benefit those individuals and beyond. During her work with this population, she noticed that accessing convenient transportation was often a concern. This barrier could present challenges with accessing therapy. Kelsey’s mobile app addresses that issue by connecting clients virtually to a SLP. “Technology is constantly advancing in our world, so it is paramount that novel programs within the field of speech language pathology are introduced. With my proposed program, I know that I can improve the lives of those with intellectual and speech disabilities, and teach them to help themselves through therapy,” she writes.





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