Young couple, recently married, create fund to help FHSU students pay for internships

Although they have just embarked on their careers, a young couple who were leaders at Fort Hays State University have created a fund to give students at their alma mater access to real world experiences while they are in college.

The Tyler Thompson and Jessica Tormey World Ready Fund will assist business education and informatics majors who have expenses related to leaving campus and leaving employment in order to do student teaching and internships. The minimum amount to establish an annual scholarship at FHSU is $1,000 per year. The Thompsons have started with a commitment of $1,000 per year with hopes to add to it in the future.

Tyler Thompson and Jessica Tormey met at Derby Middle School, and although they found each other quite annoying at first, it was a true match made in heaven. They were married this month after eight and a half years of dating.

"Tyler and I have talked a lot about giving back to FHSU," Jessica said recently. "In the fall of 2012, we were both doing internships. Tyler was in Washington, D.C., and I was in Hays doing my student teaching. The financial struggle of having to pay tuition and bills, and finding a way to feed ourselves, was tough."

Less than a year out of college, Tyler and Jessica have set up the fund to provide assistance to FHSU students who may face the choice of putting food on the table or taking an internship that gives them a shot at their dream job. It's an investment that they are thrilled to make because they've been there and know how important it is to other students.

"With the World Ready Fund we want to promote the direct relationship between internships, student teaching and a great job offer," said Tyler. "For us, internships provided the experience of a lifetime!"

If it weren't for Jessica, Tyler would have never become an FHSU Tiger. She planned to attend FHSU and was the one who told Tyler about the university. As it turned out, FHSU's Informatics program was exactly what Tyler was looking for and he, too, made the decision to move to Hays.

FHSU became an integral part of their relationship. Not only did they do a lot together while attending the school, but they also pushed one another to do things on campus that they would never have done individually. Tyler and Jessica say FHSU was critical in getting them where they are today, both in their relationship and in their careers.

"I owe so much to the faculty and staff at FHSU," said Jessica. "They helped shape me into the young woman that I am today. It's the dedication and commitment of the faculty and staff that make the difference for FHSU students."

While attending FHSU, Tyler served two terms as student body president. He also served as chair of the Student Advisory Committee for the Kansas Board of Regents and the Executive Committee of the National Campus Leadership Council. He was selected as a Newman Civic Fellow, which identifies inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.

Jessica was also very involved. She was a Dean's Honor Roll student who was engaged in a wide variety of campus, community and national leadership roles. She served as a student senator, was chair of the Student Government Allocations Committee and was national vice president of DECA, the international association of marketing students. During her college years, she placed as a finalist in multiple national DECA competitions and was recognized as FHSU's Torch Award winner for 2013 as the university's outstanding senior.

The couple made an outstanding impact at FHSU throughout their years in Hays, and in January 2013, before they even graduated, they started talking about giving back.

"I had just completed an internship in Senator Moran's office in Washington, D.C.," said Tyler. "Before that, I had an internship at Intouch Solutions in Overland Park, and Jessica had just finished student teaching. It had been an incredibly challenging six months for both of us. The experience showed us that there was an urgent need for students to have a more responsive funding model than the normal scholarship process. Internships and student teaching both come with extremely high expenses and very little, if any, income. We talked about ways to help out others who would be in our situation in the future and decided to approach the FHSU Foundation about ways to make it happen."

Tyler adds: "Internships are the key to getting your foot in the door for the best entry-level jobs. Once employers see the work of an FHSU student against that of some of the bigger, less personal universities, they are sold."

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