Kansas farmer who gave Cuomo N95 mask conferred a bachelor’s degree by K-State, Kansas governor

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(KSN) — The northeast Kansas farmer who gave one of his only N95 masks for a healthcare worker on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in New York was conferred a bachelor’s degree in agriculture on Tuesday.

It wasn’t a typical graduation ceremony, with most people in attendance wearing masks and keeping their distance — but for Kansas farmer Dennis Kuhnke, it was something he waited to hear for nearly fifty years.

Ruhnke farmed for much of his life. he went to K-State when he was younger, but never graduated. He was two credits away from getting his degree when his father died, so he decided the best decision was to return to his home and take care of the farm.

So K-State president Richard Myers and Governor Laura Kelly came together in Topeka Tuesday to present Ruhnke with his diploma. President Myers told Ruhnke that he is welcome at the next graduation ceremony when the outbreak has gone down.

“Dennis’ kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree,” Gov. Kelly said.

Ruhnke said he didn’t write the letter to be in the spotlight, but he does have advice for people looking to make a difference.

“Many of those who wrote to me to thank me asked me how they could help, just pay it forward as much as you can afford to do so to honor all those who have lost their lives.”

“He epitomizes the kind of character that most of us Kansans would be proud to have and think we do have, but he acts on it,” K-State president Myers said.


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