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UCM Feature Stories

UCM Students Write for Social Justice, Sweep Competition

UCM students Kendra Collins (left) and Jonathan Thomas (right) earned the Missouri Sociology Association Paper Competition Awards for writing about social justice.

Jonathan Thomas and Kendra Collins are passionate about the injustices in American society, and writing about these injustices earned them the 2014 Missouri Sociological Association Paper Competition Awards.

Thomas and Collins learned about the competition from their professors. Students were able to apply past assignments from UCM classes and compete against other students across from the state. This year's theme for paper submissions was social justice, and students were encouraged to use the opportunity to make a difference in society.

"I wanted to write about an issue that showed people how things really worked," says Thomas, a Communication Studies student.

Thomas explained the injustices for aspiring high school athletes living in the inner city, based off of Steve James' award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams. Thomas explored the film's controversial issues concerning race, economic division and education through his paper.

Collins, UCM Social Gerontology graduate student, felt the desire to compare the federal and Missouri laws surrounding domestic violence.

"Domestic violence is such a big issue today in our society," says Collins. "I wanted to bring awareness to the issue and what improvements need to be made."

By sharing their passions and speaking out against injustices, Collins and Thomas are learning to a greater degree.

ConocoPhillips Turns to UCM for Top Interns, Employees

ConocoPhillips turns to UCM for top interns, employees.

Jamie Randall, an Occupational Safety and Health major, and Cullen Rosine, an Industrial Hygiene graduate student, were two of four UCM students selected by ConocoPhillips for summer internships that provided more than they ever imagined.

"University recruiting is all about establishing the future for companies like ConocoPhillips,” says Stephen de Albuquerque, Global Manager of Health and Safety Assurance for ConocoPhillips. “With this in mind, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with UCM. The UCM Safety Science programs ranks right up there with schools like Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Montana Tech."

Rosine spent his internship with ConocoPhillips in Texas, and was recently offered a full-time position as a safety health environment and regulatory specialist to work with ConocoPhillips' growing Eagle Ford Shale business in South Texas.

"At ConocoPhillips you’re treated as a full-time employee," Rosine says. "You get hands-on experience in a variety of topics helping you gain knowledge on key health, safety and environmental issues."

During Randall's internship, she traveled to Canada to visit one of the company's biggest projects in the Canadian oil sands. "I loved it; it gave me a real sense of what I want to do in the future," says Randall.

By engaging in hands-on experiences through their internships with ConocoPhillips, UCM students are learning to a greater degree.

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.

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