KSU’s Best in Show


Honors student to compete at Westminster Dog Show

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 6, 2019) — Claire Ctibor’s lifelong love of dogs has led her to a national stage, as she will head to New York on Friday and compete next week in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Ctibor, an Honors College student majoring in criminal justice, will be accompanied by her beloved sidekick Captain, a 12-year-old Brittany she has been showing since 2013. Ctibor will compete Tuesday in the junior showmanship preliminary and, if she is chosen as one of the eight finalists from 100 participants, she will advance to the finals at Madison Square Garden that night.

Junior showmanship is a sport for ages 9-18 in which the judging is based on a competitor’s dog handling skills and presentation rather than on the dog itself. As one of the top-ranked junior dog handlers in the country, Ctibor, 18, earned an invitation to Westminster for the third year in a row and will compete for the second time.

Claire Ctibor

“This sport has changed my life, and I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to compete,” said Ctibor, who hails from the small town of Milner, Ga. “It was nerve-racking last year because I never had competed at such a prestigious event as Westminster. Because I’ve been there before, hopefully I’ll be able to calm my nerves a little bit this year.”

Though only 18 years old, Ctibor already is classified as a junior academically at Kennesaw State after dual-enrolling in college courses during high school. She chose KSU in part for its criminal justice program because she aspired to be – no surprise – a canine officer, a goal she since has changed to becoming an FBI agent.

Another factor was being accepted into the Honors College and the President’s Emerging Global Scholars (PEGS) program, which challenges its students to grow as scholars, leaders and innovators. In fact, she pointed out that her involvement in PEGS and her experience in showing dogs for the past 10 years have been mutually beneficial.

“I’ve been conducting myself in a professional manner since I started showing dogs as an 8-year-old, and that experience helped me during the application process to the Honors College and the PEGS cohort,” Ctibor said. “Meanwhile, the leadership skills I have learned through PEGS has allowed me to mentor some of the younger junior handlers.”

Dog shows are a way of life for Ctibor, who said she competes in about 30 per year. Along with showing dogs and staying on top of her rigorous Honors coursework, Ctibor works several hours a week at a local restaurant and runs her own dog grooming business.

“It’s not easy balancing everything,” Ctibor said. “It means a lot of tired days and weekends, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Her schedule only will get more demanding. Next month, she will represent the United States at an international dog show in England. Ctibor earned that by winning the American Kennel Club’s junior showmanship national championship, out of 160 competitors, in December.

Also, Ctibor will spend spring break in Costa Rica on a service trip with PEGS. Studying and serving abroad is part of the PEGS experience, which next year will include Ctibor traveling to Italy with her fellow students.

“The people in my PEGS cohort are really amazing,” Ctibor said. “I’m really excited to make memories in Costa Rica and in Italy next year.”

– Paul Floeckher

Photos by David Caselli; Video by Rob Witzel


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu