Entertainment and Advice Featured in Discovery Day Lecture

Kingsley_Leggs_Performing_at_Benedictine_College

Benedictine College’s Annual Day of Academics includes Student Research

Atchison, Kan. – Benedictine College students presented the results of their original research on nearly 80 topics at the school’s 24th annual Discovery Day on Wednesday, April 10. Each year, the college cancels classes to allow for a day of extra-curricular learning as hundreds of students give presentations on subjects including music, engineering, economics, history, theology, biology, chemistry, theater, language, dance, sociology, psychology, computer programming and philosophy.

In addition to student academic presentations, the day included a keynote address from Kingsley Leggs, who graduated from Benedictine in 1983 with a degree in Music. He has gone on to a healthy career on Broadway, in other theater productions, and in movies and television. He has appeared on Broadway in Sister Act, The Color Purple and Miss Saigon and is currently appearing in Pretty Woman. His presentation, “Putting it Together: Benedictine, Broadway and Beyond,” included memories of his time on campus, stories from his career, songs from some of the musicals he has been in, and heartfelt advice. Kathryn Dalzell, a 1980 Music graduate, accompanied him on piano.

“We live life on levels, but we rise in stages,” he told the packed auditorium. “There’s a process, steps to progress and success. Each with its own unique challenges and lessons. Sometimes we have to be completely shaken in order to learn how to get out of our own way so that we can get to the next level. You have to get out of your comfort zone to grow.”

He talked about his rise to fame and his unfortunate and largely self-inflicted fall from grace. He explained how it took years for him to even realize what he was doing, and even longer to free himself from the demons. But, he said, he is a better, kinder version of himself now. Based on his own journey, he offered advice to the gathered students.

“Your journey is specific to you. Your life. Your experiences. And your demons, that you have to face and work through. You’ll have to find the courage to be open and honest so that you can receive the help from others and can help yourself,” said Leggs.

“That is one of the best messages I can leave with you today,” he said. “Whatever your dream is, whatever choice you make, wherever your choices take you, embrace it with courage, honesty, freedom and originality. You don’t have to be like anyone or look like anyone or follow anyone else’s path. We are all different. We all have different gifts and strengths. Be you. Be free. Blaze your own trail. Don’t let setbacks or the word ‘no’ keep you from reaching your goals. For every ‘no’ there is a ‘yes.’ For every failure, there is a victory. Sometimes failure is the pathway to success. We learn much more from our mistakes than we do from our accomplishments.”

“Remember this,” he said. “God created you for greatness, and God wants you to be happy.”

He concluded with some thoughts about the Liberal Arts and the value of the kind of education received at Benedictine College.

“A Liberal Arts education, by design, teaches you about putting it together,” he explained. “It makes you diverse, well-rounded, and grounded in the knowledge that everything you learn here will serve you and increase your ability to succeed in a now very complex world.

The Discovery Committee co-chairs, Dr. Julia Bowen from the English Department and Dr. Terry Malloy from the Biology Department, were excited to have the mixture of entertaining songs and inspirational thoughts brought to the audience in Leggs’ keynote lecture. They expressed appreciation to Dr. Ruth Krusemark, Kremmeter Professor and chair of the Music Department, for bringing Leggs to the college for Discovery Day as part of the Kremmeter Lecture Series.

“It has been an honor to serve on the Discovery Committee with Ruth Krusemark,” said Bowen. “Terry and I are particularly thrilled that Ruth arranged this year’s keynote address and performance by Kinsley Leggs in coordination with the Kremmeter series. His presentation was a highlight of Discovery Day.”

Over 150 students collaborated with 24 academic departments and more than 50 faculty members on research outside of the regular classroom curriculum for this year’s Discovery Day. The 79 projects included studies of plant and animal life in the area, a look at the 19th Amendment, a presentation on religious upheaval in ancient Egypt, construction of a magnetic accelerator, a discussion of the U.S. economy, a demonstration of modern printmaking, and much more.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.