By Kayla Overbey
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012
As fall approaches, Fort Hays State University welcomes back both new and current students. Alyssa Conyac, Stockton, will be a freshman following in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who each graduated from FHSU. She will be the fourth generation in her immediate family to become an FHSU Tiger.
Linda S. (Barnett) Conyac, Alyssa’s mother, provides the third generational step to the Conyac family. She graduated from FHSU in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in communication and a minor in political science. She also obtained a master’s degree in communications from FHSU in 1996.
Linda chose FHSU after hearing a recommendation from an instructor during a career shadowing class and receiving scholarships. During her time at FHSU, Linda recalls, she participated in the FHSU Leaderand a public relations internship at The Mall. She fondly remembers the faculty and staff.
Linda is now the senior branch manager of Heartland Lions Eye Bank in Hays. Her interest stemmed from an interest in organ donation and experience she gathered after working many medical jobs through college. She found that the position combines her degrees and experience well. She is also involved in her community through the school board, her children’s activities and her church.
Linda encourages students to maintain their drive for excellence and continuously be willing to learn.
“Never [lose] your sense of curiosity. Now with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to look things up,” she said.
The second generation Tiger in the Conyac family is Alyssa’s grandmother, Constance “Connie” M. (Pyle) Conyac. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business in 1965, and an M.B.A. in accounting in 1985. Connie admires FHSU’s location and position as a leader in western Kansas.
During her years at FHSU, Connie was involved in a number of activities, including Women’s Leadership Organization, Mortar Board and Lambda Iota Tau literary society. She was also a graduate assistant for the English Department and a graduate assistant in the accounting department.
Connie is newly retired from a career in accounting. She is also a retired public school teacher, in addition to having taught at FHSU from 1985 to 1988. She dedicates a large portion of her time to her community through schools, her church, a home association, the Kansas City chapter of Women in the Arts, as well as enjoying her grandchildren. She is very active and considers her retirement a new chapter for potential in her life.
“I currently live where I fully take advantage of the many opportunities offered by a local community college for classes, lectures and performances,” said Connie. “I am considering what my next career will be.”
Alyssa’s great-grandmother, and the first member of the family to become a Tiger, the late Doris Bessie (Jones) Conyac enrolled at Kansas State Teachers College at Hays on Sep. 8, 1931, for $26.50. She graduated from high school in June of 1923 and taught school in Rooks County for three years before pursuing a teaching certificate.
Doris’ diaries describe college life similarly to what many would say college is like today. On June 1, 1932, she wrote, “Classes began. My subjects are swimming, tennis, clothing, Hygiene 33, and playground and community recreation.” She also wrote about pep rallies, bonfires and football games, as well as her recreational activities, like tennis, and her study habits. She wrote that wheat grew not far from the classroom windows.
As the Depression set in, Doris ended her schooling and gave her financial savings to a sibling before returning to teach at small schools. Eventually, she decided to pursue a career in cosmetology and ran a business in Stockton for 33 years. Family records show that she earned more than $3,000 per year in the early 1940s post-Depression era. Doris married Lawrence Conyac in 1940.
Doris motivated and instilled determination in both Linda and Connie during their academic years. Connie said of her mother-in-law, “Doris Conyac was an inspiration to me, encouraging me to complete my college education after I was married.”
Besides the direct line of Conyac women dating back to the 1930s who attended FHSU, Alyssa has many other family ties to the university. Alyssa’s father, Phillip, took classes for a year before graduating from Kansas State University. Cousin Austin M. Pyle graduated in 2005 and was preceded by a number of great aunts and uncles: Nancy (David) ’98 and A. Lawrence “Larry” Conyac ’83, Stockon; Rebecca (Arpin) ’71 and John W. Pyle ’71, Hays. Additionally, Alyssa’s grandfather, Carrol J. Conyac, attended FHSU in 1960.
Alyssa was awarded many scholarships for her academic and community achievements and will take advantage of the opportunities FHSU provides. She received a scholarship based on her ACT score, as well as two from the FHSU Department of Business, which will assist in her resident hall and tuition costs. Alyssa also received a Vietnam Veteran’s Association Scholarship and a St. Thomas Church Scholarship.
Alyssa will live on campus and is most excited to experience dorm life and gain lifelong friends. She will major in marketing and minor in Spanish. She was drawn to FHSU by both her scholarships and the comfortable size of the university. FHSU wishes Alyssa, as well as all incoming students, the best as they officially join the Tiger family this fall. FHSU is also excited to welcome back all faculty, staff and returning students for another productive school year.
As a member of a Tiger generational family, Alyssa, like many other Tiger descendants, is eligible to apply for the Tiger Generational Scholarship. This award was recently established by the FHSU Alumni Association. Funds are generated through a number of venues, including the Tiger T-Shirt Project. To be eligible, a student must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student with a 3.0 grade point average minimum, with preference given to children or grandchildren of FHSU graduates, including stepchildren and adopted children. For more information regarding the scholarship, please visit https://secure.fhsu.edu/scholarship/default.asp.
(This article was posted on the Fort Hays State University website in September of 2012. I was contacted by the FHSU Alumni Association for this project and am listed as a guest writer in the original publication. I’m posting it here to archive my work. Read the original here.)