Sager named a “Woman of Distinction” for her work in Campus Activities 

As a student, Eva Sager recalls the moment that transformed her experience here at Pittsburg State: it was an accidental phone call, made to her number instead of the number for which it was intended. 

“I was very much a residence hall mouse. I went to class, went back to my hall. At that time, we had land lines. No texting or any kind of digital way to connect,” she said. 

“That call was a misdial to invite someone to a meeting for a committee that was part of the Student Activities Board. I decided to go to the meeting,” she said. “Had I not, my journey here would have been vastly different.” 

Sager fell in love with the group of people that were there, the activities they were planning, the fun they were having — but also the goals they were trying to achieve: to get students involved on campus. 

“When the head of that group left, I started running the committee, then eventually became president of the Student Activities Board,” she said. 

Sager earned her degree in 2004 and soon returned to campus to earn her master’s and serve as a program coordinator and an assistant director. Today, she is the associate director for Campus Activities and is making a difference for hundreds of students impacted by the office each year. 

For that impact, she was chosen by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce as one of 12 Women of Distinction for 2023. 

Among the 12 were also six other PSU alumni.

Eva with gorilla

Relationship building 

Sager and her small but mighty team are responsible for many well-known campus events, including Homecoming (which includes Pittsburg’s largest annual parade), Apple Day, Family Day, Community Fair, and the Student Organization Fair.  

The Office of Campus Activities also coordinates the PSU Leadership Awards Ceremony and the Golden Gorilla Award and works closely with the Student Government Association, Gorilla Activities Board, and the Fraternity and Sorority Life community. 

In 2017, she started Gorilla Engage: an online warehouse of hundreds of opportunities offered by clubs and organizations. 

She is driven by her passion for helping them develop skills and experiences beyond the classroom, she said. 

“I get up every day and am excited to be here because of the interactions I get to have with students. A lot of that has to do with relationship building with them one on one,” she said. “It’s always great to see events go well, but what’s really magical to watch is to see a student who didn’t have very much confidence walk out and give a speech to their peers, or a student who struggled with time management develop into someone who is organized.” 

And perhaps, she said, help a student who is a “residence hall mouse” take that step to get involved. 

"When I had my campus visit, I could not have predicted I was going to stay, that this was going to be where home would be," she said. “But I did know when I got here that Pitt State was going to change my life. And it did.” 

Other 2023 Women of Distinction who are alumni include: 

Deborah Beachner, RFB Construction Company, Inc. (BS ‘91) 

Beachner has excelled as a business owner in a male-dominated field. As president of RFB Construction Company, she was named “Rookie of the Year” by the National Association of Women in Construction in 2015 and one of Ingram’s “50 Kansans You Should Know” in 2017. RFB Construction was also named the “Kansas Woman-Owned Business of the Year” in 2014. Beachner serves on the board of directors for both Habitat for Humanity and Hearts & Hammers, and as a mentor to future generations of young women interested in entering the construction field.  

Dr. Katie Falk, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (BS ‘10) 

Falk earned her medical degree from the University of Kansas and completed her residency in Kansas City. She returned home to join Ascension Via Christi Hospital, where she helped launch the hospitalist program, chaired the hospital’s risk management committee, and served as hospice medical director. She served as president of the hospital’s medical staff in 2021 and played an integral role in the hospital’s COVID recovery strategy. Falk teaches medical students for the University of Kansas, Kansas City University, and A.T. Still University, and gives back to the community through her service with the St. Mary’s Religious Gift Shop. 

Kelynn Heardt, Pittsburg High School (BSEd ‘00, MS ‘14) 

Heardt and her team are responsible for the education, safety, and well-being of over 1,000 students. She taught English and coached volleyball in the area districts before being named assistant principal in 2016 and principal in 2019. She has built a culture of unity and consistency throughout the school’s student, teacher, and administrative communities, and has served on the boards of the USD 250 Foundation and the Business Education Alliance. 

Monica LaForte, Pittsburg Community Schools (BSEd ‘07, MS ‘12) 

A native of Peru, LaForte has served as the primary liaison for Spanish speaking students and families in the Pittsburg Community Schools for more than 20 years. She coordinates grant funding for the Migrant Education Program and the English for Speakers of Other Languages program. She has served on the Pittsburg Public Library Board of Directors since 2022, and regularly translates library materials into Spanish. She serves on the Parish Council at Our Lady of Lourdes and was a founding member of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Board of Directors until 2020. 

Lindsay Smith, Midwest Minerals (BBA ‘08, MBA ‘09) 

In addition to her work as a finance and administration manager, Smith has had numerous leadership roles on several area boards of directors including the Mt. Carmel Foundation, where she served as board chairwoman, and the Pittsburg Area Young Professionals, Family Resource Center, Little Balkans Days and Stilwell Hotel Foundation. She serves on the board of directors for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and in July 2023 will become one of the youngest board chairs in the organization’s 126-year history.  

Katie Swezey, Ryan Insurance (BSEd ‘06, MS ‘09) 

Now entering her 10th year as a professional in the insurance industry, Swezey contributes an incredible amount of volunteer service to our community, including for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, where she serves as an Ambassador,, Crestwood Country Club, Vie Medical clinic, & Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and School. Swezey serves as an adjunct professor in PSU’s Kelce College of Business and helps prepare students in the area of business professionalism and risk management.