Gavin Kreidler named recipient of Outstanding Tiger Alumni award
Having forged a successful career as a political consultant while also continuing to give back to Cowley College, Gavin Kreidler was recently named the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Tiger Alumni award.
Kreidler grew up in Colwich, KS and attended Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita. With both his sister, Laura, and brother in law, Jake Hocker, having previously attended Cowley College, Kreidler felt Cowley would be a good place to start his college career in 2007.“I knew I wasn’t ready for a big school yet and it made sense to go to somewhere with a small town environment where I knew I was more than a student ID number to faculty,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler moved into a four-plex apartment near Cowley College’s main campus. It was there that he met Eli Hilderbrand, who lived in the apartment across the hall. Kreidler and Eli forged an instant friendship.
“We were together pretty much every day for the next two months after that,” Kreidler said.
Tragically their friendship would be short lived as a fire at the apartment building on Oct. 2, 2007 would change their lives forever.
Three of the apartments were occupied, and all the tenants escaped unharmed except for Eli. Initially, Eli got out of the building after the fire broke out, however Eli went back in because he thought someone was still in the house, and then he could not get out.
“It was incredibly hard and heartbreaking for all of us who knew him,” Kreidler said. “I considered him a best friend even in the few short months we knew each other.”
Following the tragedy, Kreidler completed two years at Cowley and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Business Administration minor from Pittsburg State University in 2011.
“My experience at Cowley was vastly different than most,” Kreidler said. “It was the hardest two years of my life. With that said, in the years following those experiences at Cowley really helped me learn a lot more about myself and frankly develop some inner strength that I didn’t know was there.”
As a way to honor his friend, Kreidler established the Eli Hilderbrand Memorial Scholarship at Cowley College in 2015. Kreidler plans to host a golf tournament in Lawrence, KS this August to help raise additional funds for the scholarship.
“It is a cause very near and dear to me,” Kreidler said. “I knew there were lot of good kids out there like Eli who just needed a small helping hand. It was critical to me that this be a merit based scholarship. I just hope the recipients understand how much it means to me that Eli’s name continues on helping people.”
Cowley College vice president of institutional advancement, Dr. Kori Gregg, said the Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award was created in part to honor an alum who has brought pride to the college through excellence in career and community service and she cannot think of a more deserving individual than Gavin Kreidler.
“Through his unselfish act of establishing an endowed scholarship to honor and remember his best friend Eli, Gavin has given the gift of a college education to countless students,” Dr. Gregg said. “Without question the lives of many individuals will forever be changed by the generosity and character of this young man. While he asks that the focus remain on Eli, we cannot forget the impact his giving will have on Cowley students. In the face of unthinkable loss, Gavin has found a way to turn it into a remarkable positive.”
Kreidler currently resides in Lawrence, KS and operates Kreidler Consulting Group as well as the Kreidler Real Estate Group. He has invested in a few other businesses as well.
Kreidler is humbled to join the list of former recipients of the Outstanding Tiger Alumni award.
“It is very important to me that I don’t accept this on behalf of myself but on behalf of Eli and the scholarship,” Kreidler said. “I didn’t do this to receive any awards. In fact this scholarship fund has been a very private thing that only a few close friends and family know about. I am honored that Cowley College would bestow this on me.”
Kreidler hopes the scholarship he established has helped a few students and will continue to grow each year. He is looking forward to returning to Cowley College to share in the Commencement exercises on May 13.
“I am truly honored by this award and frankly somewhat speechless I have been asked to receive it,” Kreidler said. “I am humbled and honored beyond belief.”