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UCM Feature Stories

UCM Students use Fashion Talents to Benefit Breast Cancer Survivors

Jessica Williams (left) and Maggie Hofflelmeyer (right) put the finishing touches on their bras for Art Bra Kansas City.

UCM Fashion and Merchandising students are using their passion for fashion to help raise awareness for breast cancer, one bra at a time. Students in the Fashion Business Association and Delta Zeta are preparing for their second experience at Art Bra Kansas City.

Art Bra KC is a unique fundraising event that showcases work-of-art bras to be auctioned to celebrate breast cancer survivors while raising money for uninsured and underinsured individuals battling cancer.

About 90 UCM students, faculty and alumni volunteered at Art Bra KC last year. Students designed and donated 40 bras, and the same amount is expected for this year's event.

"We are really proud to have the opportunity to work again in donating bras and volunteering," says Billie Perrin, instructor in the Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program.

It is anticipated that 80 to 100 students will volunteer this year. The event takes place May 1, and tickets can be purchased at

Melissa Sperfslage, a senior Fashion and Merchandising student attended Art Bra KC last year. "It was rewarding to be able to use what I am passionate about to give back to other people and to a meaningful cause," she says.

By using their skills in fashion to benefit breast cancer survivors and patients, Fashion and Merchandising students experience learning to a greater degree.

Students Create Organization, Aid Those Affected by Addiction

Recovery Central members Josh Knight (second from left), Sadie Purinton (middle) and Nicholle Scheibe (right) pose with Senator Pearce and President Ambrose at the Recovery Support conference held at UCM in December 2014.

Participating in college life can be difficult for students affected by addiction. After seeing the need for a collegiate recovery support group, senior Child and Family Development majors Nicholle Scheibe and Sadie Purinton took the initiative to form Recovery Central.

Dedicated to supporting those in recovery and those who come from families with addiction, Recovery Central aims to be a resource to students who may not have a place to share their struggles and concerns.

"Although addiction and recovery are not always openly talked about, it is something that college students struggle with, either as family members, friends or personally," says Scheibe. "I hope that Recovery Central will help to break the stigma often associated with addiction and recovery."

Founded with the help of faculty advisor Adriatik Likcani, Recovery Central is joining the growing movement of college recovery programs in the state. Students within the organization actively advocate recovery programs by participating in statewide conferences and meeting with legislators.

Purinton believes this organization offers hope for many students who have nowhere to turn.

"We have a heart for service and have family members who have struggled with addiction," says Purinton. "We aim to promote healing, awareness and hope. We believe recovery is possible."

By demonstrating a culture of service and advocating recovery, Scheibe and Purinton are learning to a greater degree.

Tunnel of Oppression Educates About Privilege, Race, Class and Gender

The harmfulness of judging others based on their race is one of the tough topics addressed in the Tunnel of Oppression.

A long but somber and respectful line stood outside the Elliott Student Union ballroom. Students, faculty and staff were waiting to tour the Tunnel of Oppression to understand social justice issues and modern forms of oppression affecting their community.

As part of Unity Week, tour groups were taken through various rooms built in the ballroom, each room addressed a specific issue. Presentations conducted by on-campus groups such as the Association of Black Collegians and Students Advocating Gender Equality educated participants on ways oppression occurs and how to become more conscious of others' experiences because of their race, class or gender.

"I wanted to get a broader understanding of injustices that still happen," says Bobby Jackson, a senior Social Work major. "Whether it's race or sexuality, these forms of oppression need to be addressed."

The Tunnel of Oppression was just one part of Unity Week, Feb. 23 - 26, which also featured a panel on sexuality entitled "Guess Who’s Straight," "The Pocketbook Monologues" and a performance by poet Carlos Andrés Gómez.

"Unity Week highlights different identities to bring awareness to the UCM community," adds Brianna Nesbitt, graduate assistant for diversity education.

By touring the Tunnel of Oppression, UCM's community members became more mindful of the experiences of others and experienced learning to a greater degree.

Adaptive Physical Education Program Offers Unique Learning Experience

Students Samantha Wheeler (left) and Jacob DeClue (right), instruct THRIVE student Anna McDaniel on a weight machine in UCM's Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

UCM's THRIVE program students are helping to enhance a Physical Education course to create a unique, hands-on learning environment.

The Adaptive Field Education course was designed to instruct Education and Exercise Science majors on how to teach individuals with disabilities. Now, students are assigned a THRIVE student to work with as a personal trainer. The THRIVE program at UCM provides intellectually challenged young adults with a two-year residential college experience, transitioning them from home to independence.

"As they work one-on-one or with a partner and their THRIVE student, they really start to develop a camaraderie and the class becomes even more enjoyable," says Kenneth Bias, associate professor of Physical Education.

Through exercise activities, sports and games, the THRIVE students learn the habits of a healthy lifestyle while developing a positive sense of self worth.

"We get to have our own personal trainers who help teach us the basics of exercising," says Anna McDaniel, a THRIVE student in the class.

DK Barr, a previous student of the class is now a teaching assistant for Bias.

"It's definitely an eye-opener to see their passion," say Barr. "They'll come clear across campus to give you a hug."

By furthering their physical education knowledge and gaining first-hand experience working with individuals with disabilities, Physical Education students are learning to a greater degree.

Course Challenges Student Perspectives, Empowers Those in Need

Assistant Professor Katie Jacobs leads her class through a discussion to help them prepare to make a difference for people living in poverty in the area.

When assistant professor Katie Jacobs began designing courses for the Honors College, she wanted to create a course that gave students the opportunity to make an impact. Students have that opportunity through Understanding Poverty in Modern Society.

The course offers a holistic approach to understanding the issues surrounding poverty. Students research legislation that affects those living in poverty, and evaluate local organizations dedicated to helping those in need. In addition to learning the causes and effects of poverty, students create projects that are relevant to their majors to empower those in need.

"We wanted to create an experience that goes through the university's four pillars - engaged learning, future-focused academics, a worldly perspective and a culture of service," says Jacobs.

Through creating and executing projects focused on sustainable solutions, Jacobs hopes that students will learn how to address and understand social issues. Examples of student projects include a letter-writing campaign to influence legislation and a program providing elementary students supplies and knowledge for proper hygiene.

"My perception of poverty has already changed," says Claire Richards, a junior Biology and Modern Languages major. "Dr. Jacobs has a unique and passionate way of making us aware and provides us new understandings of poverty."

By designing a course that emphasizes a culture of service, Jacobs cultivates learning to a greater degree.

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