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Learning to a Greater Degree Award graphic
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UCM Feature Stories

UCM Students Create Web Show, Highlight Students' Perspective

UCM freshman Austan Jones (left) and junior Andrea Lopez (right) teamed up to create the web show iCentral.

Digital Media Production majors Austan Jones and Andrea Lopez both wanted to shed light on the UCM student experience in a unique way. Because of this, the web show iCentral was born.

iCentral is designed to showcase life from UCM students' points of view. As hosts of the show, Jones and Lopez ask students on campus a range of questions. Questions include: "What's the weirdest thing you've seen in Warrensburg?" and "How are you spending winter break?" The show will also cover campus events and organizations.

"We want to be relatable to our viewers, because after all, we're students too," says Lopez. "We want to be the first ones to ask the goofy questions, in addition to throwing sensitive topics into the mix."

iCentral has given Jones and Lopez an experience that they hope to give to other students. "I really hope that iCentral is something that can go on after Andrea and I graduate," says Jones.

iCentral is produced through the Muleskinner, which puts the videos into its online publication and posts them to YouTube. Jones and Lopez say they are always looking for new topics to discuss, and ask for questions and suggestions to be sent to

By exercising creativity to gain hands-on experience, Jones and Lopez are learning to a greater degree.

UCM Student Gains Experience at the Most Magical Place on Earth

Savannah Chambers enhanced her experience as a Hospitality Management major by interning at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

When Savannah Chambers found out about Disney's College Program, she knew the internship was the right fit for her. She wanted to acquire skills in event planning other students only read about.

"I wanted to participate in the Disney College Program because I'm a Disney fanatic," says Chambers, a sophomore Hospitality Management major. "I also wanted to network within the Disney company, because I hope to return to Disney and help plan weddings and events."

During her internship, Chambers worked in outdoor foods at Disney's Hollywood Studio. She helped create Magical Moments for visitors celebrating occasions. The moments allow a cast member to engage with guests to help create special memories.

Chambers also completed nine UCM academic hours online and a course within the Disney College Program.

"Although it was difficult staying a full-time student, managing a full-time job and being surrounded by Disney all the time, it was the most rewarding experience I have had so far," says Chambers. "I met so many great people from around the world."

Annually, Chambers combines her volunteering and event planning passions by planning Hats 'N Tea, a fundraiser featuring an auction, bra-decorating contest and more. The event supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Chambers brought her dream education to life at Disney World; she experienced learning to a greater degree.

Smith-Cotton Senior Gains Hands-On Experience, College Credit

As a dual-credit student, Alex Sanchez gained hands-on experience helping produce a high school sports show.

Alex Sanchez, a senior from Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia loves filming and sports, so when he learned about the inaugural Intro to Sports Broadcasting dual-credit course at UCM, he signed up. The course, taught by Associate Professor of Communication Joe Moore, had 20 high school students enrolled and was made possible through a 2013 UCM Foundation Opportunity Grant.

The course started with a workshop that instructed Sanchez and other students on producing news packages for sports. The rest of the course included shooting, editing and voicing highlights of high school football games for a highlight show on Charter 989 or digital 12-6.

"This course has helped me a lot," says Sanchez. "Getting a hands-on feel for filming and editing has helped me find new ways to focus on the action."

On Friday nights, Sanchez filmed games and interviewed the coaches, if available. Saturdays were spent editing and recording voice-over. He learned to condense game film to three-minute packages.

"Alex is really good," says Moore. "I've shared his work with UCM students as an example of what we're looking for in the future."

This spring, students will produce a high school basketball show. Students are also invited to help the crew webcasting Mules and Jennies games.

By gaining hands-on experience and college credit, Sanchez is learning to a greater degree.

April Roller Earns Learning to a Greater Degree Award for Dedication to Suicide Prevention

April Roller (center) was presented the Learning to a Greater Degree Award for her dedication to suicide prevention and outstanding volunteer work.

Following the loss of her husband, April Roller had a choice to make - become consumed by grief, or rise above and make a difference. This fall, Roller was awarded the Learning to a Greater Degree Award for choosing to make a difference.

In Roller's nomination, she was described as the epitome of living a culture of service. She holds numerous leadership positions and memberships in organizations. Roller believes in volunteering and helping others understand that seeking treatment for depression or anxiety saves lives.

Roller is actively involved with the Warrensburg Out of Darkness Community Walk, is certified through the Ask. Listen. Refer. Suicide Intervention Program, and she started the UCM student chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"I want to help others, like me, who have lost a loved one to suicide," says Roller. "Raising awareness and helping people learn the warning signs is one step closer to saving a life."

In addition to her volunteerism, Roller is passionate about learning. A Criminal Justice and Psychology major, she is actively involved in the classroom and recently became a McNair Scholar.

"I'm excited to work with the amazing McNair faculty to prepare for my doctoral studies," says Roller.

Through her leadership positions, hands-on learning and dedication to helping others, Roller embodies learning to a greater degree.

Jennifer Carson Receives Learning to a Greater Degree Award for Commitment to Criminal Justice, The Honors College

Jennifer Carson (left), assistant professor of Criminal Justice helps a student with a hands-on learning assignment.

Jennifer Carson, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and coordinator of undergraduate research and external scholarships, says the best part of her job is mentoring students on their research and creative projects. This fall, she was recognized for her passion and dedication with the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

In Carson's nomination, her student, Brooke Cooley, highlighted Carson's engagement in leading international experiences for UCM students, her dedication to students, and her interest in researching terrorism, policy evaluation and comparative criminology.

"This is an incredible honor," says Carson. "I am deeply humbled by receiving the award given all of the amazing talent and commitment to education I see on campus."

Carson is affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Her work has been published in numerous journals, and Carson has presented her research at international conferences.

Carson's passion for international travel has led her to visit more than 20 countries. She's led two study abroad opportunities in London and Paris, and Turkey through the Department of Criminal Justice. Carson also participated in the Consortium for Transatlantic Studies and Scholarship program, where she taught a course that included visits to Spanish police, courts and corrections.

By giving her students a worldly perspective, Carson demonstrates learning to a greater degree.

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