Kansas officials welcomed Wichita teenager Kiana Knolland, the Boys and Girls Club National Youth of the Year, to the Statehouse on Monday.
Knolland, who was honored at the White House in September, visited the House and Senate and met with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.
As National Youth of the Year, she received a $60,000 scholarship. The 19-year-old attends Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she is a freshman studying public relations, she said.
“I love D.C., because I’m into politics,” Knolland said. “So it’s the perfect environment.” But she also said she enjoyed returning home to Kansas.
In the Senate, Knolland was greeted by three Wichita senators: Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat who represents Knolland’s home district; Senate President Susan Wagle; and Michael O’Donnell, both Republicans.
The senators seemed starstruck by Knolland rather than the other way around. She showed Wagle and Faust-Goudeau the photo she took with President Obama.
“I think it shows that a small-town girl can dream big and achieve greatness,” Faust-Goudeau said about Knolland, whom she has known for five years. As National Youth of the Year, Knolland represents 4 million youths across the nation.
O’Donnell was excited to hear Knolland tell about meeting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“You’re singing my tune. I love Condoleezza Rice,” he told her. He compared the success Rice has had to the run by the Wichita State Shockers this season.
“She’s like the mascot of Wichita. She’s WuShock,” he said.