A Student’s Perspective on KAMS

Nick at the Kansas Meteorite Museum.

My name is Nicholas Van Swol, member of the pioneer class of the Kansas Academy of Math and Science (KAMS). I’ve been asked to share a little about many activities available to KAMS students due to the college campus setting.

Near the beginning of the year I heard about something called the Astronomy Club, since my dad had been an amateur astronomer, I had become fascinated by the night sky at a young age. So when they had their first meeting, I showed up. Everyone was very friendly and I quickly learned a lot. Several months and an election later, I’m now the vice-president of the club. We are planning to start building an observatory out at the rock quarry this spring in order to have a place with less light interference to set up some of our bigger telescopes.

I also have an interest in martial arts, so when I heard about an Aikido Club (a martial art similar to judo, with more focus on defense than offense) I decided to give it a shot. The club was very friendly towards beginners and full of fun people, and I learned very quickly. Over Christmas I went on a paid trip to Chicago to spend a week living in the first dojo (place where martial arts is practiced) built in America, and the home of the highest ranked sensei in Chicago. There we studied and practiced Aikido with at least a dozen sensei, each with their own style. It was a very rewarding experience for me.

In addition to being a member of several clubs, I am also part of the FHSU Marching Band in the fall and the Symphonic Winds Concert Band in the spring. I have always loved being part of the band in high school, and that love has continued here. Although I will be first to admit that the playing in college has a kind of intensity that didn’t exist in high school, I think that anyone who loves music is more than capable of stepping up to plate and doing well.

The same goes for the KAMS program in general, it’s hard work and the sacrifices are many but when it’s all said and done; the sense of accomplishment and achievements that created that feeling are reward enough. There are many weeks where the workload from 18 credit hours of college, a very demanding selection of music pieces, up-coming events, whether it be a public viewing, a regional science fair, or belt testing in Aikido (or all of them) make me wonder how I ever thought I could do this. But the weeks pass, and then you are looking back, thinking “Yeah, I did all that. That was me,” My name is Nicholas Van Swol and I’m a member of the pioneer class of the Kansas Academy of Math and Science.

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4 Comments on “A Student’s Perspective on KAMS”

  1. Farm Gal Says:

    EXCELLENT article, Nicholas. Thank you for being the first of what I hope are many KAMS student perspectives.

    I received martial arts training in CA 20 years ago which was not solely Akido, but was largely Akido based. It has stood me in good stead through the years, both in mental focus and actual use for self-defense. I sincerely hope that my daughter can join your pioneer class, as along with the awesome college education, I think that the opportunity to expand ones horizons by participation in this type of activity just can’t be beat! We are blessed with a great local High School, but I do so hope she is admitted to this program! She absolutely drooled over the physical facilities… Such opportunities simply cannot be had locally.

    Best wishes to the pioneer class and all those future students in the KAMS program!

    • Farm Gal Says:

      Thanks, I appreciate the link to Katie’s article… I greatly enjoyed reading about her experience to date. I missed that article first time around. KAMS is such a superb opportunity for students to get access to far more in-depth educational opportunities than can typically be presented in their home High School systems. Look forward to hearing more!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    thanks! I missed Katie’s article. Appreciate your calling it to my attention!
    (I can’t access Facebook from work and didn’t see it on the KAMS website … ) This is SUCH a cool program!


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