Carter Award Recipient Epitomizes
by Jeff Murphy
When he began taking courses at the University of Central Missouri two years ago, Mauricio "Alejandro" Arias had no idea that long before he finished his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, he would receive a standing ovation from thousands of people who heard him speak in the Multipurpose Building. It was something he actually experienced twice in one day as the recipient of a new award that was presented Dec. 15 at both morning and afternoon Fall 2012 Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies.
"Remember, you're not alone," he concluded, bringing the crowd to its feet. In his speech, the first-ever recipient of the Mike Carter Award for Exceptional Service to the University, Community, and Military thanked many people who have touched his life --- from UCM staff members in the Office of Military and Veteran Services who are helping him transition from soldier to student to one veteran in the audience who had saved his life during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Arias, a member of the 1-135th Aviation Army National Guard at Whiteman Air Force Base, was honored publicly by UCM President Charles Ambrose. Ambrose said the award was established in 2012 "with great respect for the United States military and for those who serve in uniform, both past and present. The award is named for professor emeritus Mike Carter, who has dedicated more than 50 years serving the university as a teacher, mentor and role model, while also playing an important role in the Warrensburg and university communities' efforts to support and assist Whiteman and its personnel."
Carter and his wife, Sueann, made a generous gift to the UCM Foundation to endow the award and provide an honorarium to Aris and future students.
The purpose of the award, Ambrose said, is to support those initiatives which enhance the relationship between the university, the community and the
In addition to Arias' military service, he is a recent graduate of UCM's Police Academy and serves as a police officer in LaMonte, Mo. A tremendous source of support for UCM students who have served in the military, he has voluntarily assisted with activities hosted by the Office of Military and Veteran Services since its inception in January 2011. On Veterans Day 2011, he assisted with the opening of the new Military and Veterans Success Center, located on the first level of the Elliott Union, and was part of the community-wide Veterans Day Celebration in the Multipurpose Building.
Arias has also been involved in campus-wide events that include "Get the Red Out," an annual street fair which takes place in conjunction with the first home football game each fall, and has been a participant in Homecoming activities as a member of the Student Veterans Organization. As a part of the organization, he was most recently involved in the Military Appreciation Blood Drive during Veterans Day 2012.
The Mike Carter Award recipient also was featured in a previous issue of "Today" magazine, in which he discussed the importance of UCM's efforts to help soldiers adjust to life outside of military service. This not only means helping them with everything they need to know about getting a higher education and succeeding in college, but as he puts it to "recover from war scars."
According to the nominating committee, Arias epitomizes today's student veteran and is a "true face of SVO's motto: Yesterday's Warrior, Today's Scholar, Tomorrow's Leader."