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UCM Feature Stories

UCM Students and Faculty Gain Experience, Give Back with Project Community Connect

UCM Nursing majors administer flu shots to guests at the annual Project Community Connect, which helps prevent illness and gives students hands-on experience.

University of Central Missouri students from several majors gained hands-on experience while giving back at Project Community Connect. Social Work majors served as guides to customers, graduate students in the Speech-Language Pathology program provided speech and hearing screenings, and nursing students facilitated the health care aspects of the event.

Project Community Connect served as a "one-stop shop" for individuals and families who are homeless or in need, and featured medical and dental exams, hair cuts, birth certificates and a variety of free wellness screenings.

"As a student greeter, Project Community Connect was a humbling experience," says Shantelle Rockman, a senior Social Work major. "You get the opportunity to give your undivided attention to the guests. Those few minutes may be a life-changing experience for everyone involved."

A significant number of people in Johnson County were impacted by Project Community Connect. There were approximately 530 volunteers and 490 individuals receiving services, including vitamins to last 3,898 months and nearly $10,000 worth of food and household products.

"Many students are not aware of the day-to-day life experiences for individuals living in poverty in Johnson County," says Jean Nuernberger, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders and Social Work.

UCM students and faculty volunteers are learning to a greater degree by serving those in need in Johnson County.

UCM Student Creates Sustainability Program, Improves Lives of Incarcerated Populations

UCM Environmental Studies graduate student Hannah Rogers demonstrates the workings of a composting system to inmates.

As an Environmental Studies graduate student at the University of Central Missouri, Hannah Rogers is no stranger to research. When tasked with creating a research project for her master's degree, she proposed a unique project to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

After meetings with the directors, Rogers was granted the ability to administer two 12-week environmental education programs to two groups of 25 incarcerated individuals at a medium-security state correctional center.

"My passion is the care and concern for the natural environment, but my interests lie in the U.S. correctional system, so this was perfect for me," says Rogers.

Rogers provides each inmate who completes her course with a composting certificate from UCM and a letter of support from the Department of Natural Resources. She also helps them construct their résumés and writes each a personal recommendation letter.

"This program is a great outlet for them," says Rogers. "It allows them to take responsibility and care for another living organism."

Rogers' program focuses on planning, constructing and managing composting systems, as well as analyzing the systems' data.

"I absolutely love being there," says Rogers. "Seeing them actively participate in and care about this program is amazing. I am thankful to help make a difference in their lives."

By sharing her interests and making a difference, Rogers is learning to a greater degree.

Wheelchair Race Changes the Viewpoint for Students, Faculty

UCM students and professors learned how challenging maneuvering their way around in a wheelchair can be at the Wheelchair Challenge.

We've all seen the "elevator out of service" emails. What most of us don't realize when we read those emails is that someone unwillingly doesn’t get the opportunity to attend class that day.

The Association of Social Work Students organized the Wheelchair Challenge to raise awareness and funds; $1,610 was raised to support accessibility improvements on campus.

Eighteen able-bodied students and professors learned first-hand how difficult maneuvering in a wheelchair is. They gained this outlook by participating in a series of campus challenges, while remaining in a wheelchair.

"Our ultimate goal was for others to gain perspective of being in a wheelchair and what difficulties students encounter," says Shantelle Rockman, a UCM student and member of ASWS who helped coordinate the challenge.

The University of Central Missouri meets all of the American Disability Act’s Standards for Accessible Design. These standards ensure individuals are able to access public facilities. Still, students learned what a big challenge minor bumps and detours can be.

"My biggest challenge was getting in and out of all of the doors because not all of the doors had the handicap buttons and some of them didn't work well," says Kelly Jameson, a freshman Actuarial Science major.

Students and professors gained a new perspective and experienced learning to a greater degree by putting themselves in someone else's shoes.

Future English as a Second Language Teacher Gains Worldly Perspective

Lucas Woodling was one of 40 Americans chosen to receive a full scholarship and study Chinese language in Taiwan this summer.

Junior Political Science major Lucas Woodling traveled to Taiwan to take part in an eight-week Chinese language study program known as TUSA, the Taiwan-United States Sister Alliance.

Woodling was one of only 40 American students selected for TUSA and received a full scholarship to cover his expenses. Throughout the program, he took Chinese language and culture classes and student taught at an English immersion school.

"I've always wanted to teach English to students in Asia, so this was the perfect opportunity for me," says Woodling.

Informed about the program by Associate Professor of Political Science Darlene Budd, Woodling jumped at the opportunity to immerse himself in the Asian culture and language.

"During my trip, I wanted to expand my knowledge of the Chinese language and experience a culture different than ours," says Woodling.

When not in class or teaching, Woodling participated in weekend tours around the island and experienced historically and culturally important monuments, such as the Fo Guang Shan temple in Kaohsiung.

"Learning a language in class is one thing, but being completely immersed in it is another," Woodling remarks. "I had to learn on the go and adapt my language skills quickly while speaking to others in the community."

By immersing himself in a foreign culture and gaining a worldly perspective, Woodling experienced learning to a greater degree.

Chasing a Dream Results in a Racing Championship

Students with the Automotive Technology Management program gained valuable experience by building a B-modified race car that won in professional competition.

UCM Automotive Technology Management students recently watched a dream come true at a dirt race car track north of Warrensburg.

The students, all members of the student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers, built a B-modified stock race car from scratch.

Local stock car driver Dean Wille, a program alumnus, assisted with finding the frame and parts for the car. He also shared his expertise and taught them the value of developing relationships with sponsors. However, his greatest contribution was the one thing needed most - a driver.

Wille drove the car during the 2013 season with a respectable showing. Mechanical failures provided the student pit crew with opportunities to apply their skills.

With the reopening of the Central Missouri Speedway in May 2014, Wille was able to bring the car home. The culmination of two years of hard work, lessons learned and partnerships resulted in Wille and the SAE race car receiving the 2014 track season championship for the B-modified class.

"This has been the greatest challenge we've faced in our college careers," says Ryan Craig, president of the SAE chapter. "We've kept the team together, and we've realized our dream. We've learned to keep going and don't look back."

Students in the Automotive Technology Management program are learning to a greater degree through the SAE Racing Team.

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