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UCM Feature Stories
Student-Run Businesses Gain Real-World Experience
Business students at the University of Central Missouri have a distinct advantage over business students throughout the nation. The Integrative Business Experience brings together finance, accounting, marketing and management majors with one goal: create and run a successful business.
"You have a real product and real expenses. It's as close to real-world business as you can get," says Chris Meyer, junior marketing major and president of the IBE company Melodies for Miracles, which sold UCM earbuds and hosted a Battle of the Bands event this semester.
Junior marketing major Christian Loesing was VP of Operations for the IBE company Coasters 5000, which sold UCM-branded coasters. They pulled an IBE first by producing their product themselves.
"The biggest challenge has been logistics," Loesing says. "Setting up schedules and keeping everyone on the same page has been tough, but the entire process has been a great learning experience."
The companies donated a total of more than $10,000 to Warrensburg Parks and Recreation and the Survival House of Warrensburg.
"IBE throws you into the business world, so once you graduate, you have field knowledge, which is a big help moving forward," Meyer says.
By excelling beyond the classroom and doing work related to their majors, Loesing, Meyer and the rest of the students in IBE are learning to a greater degree.
Gamification Theory Fuels Excitement about Education in the Classroom
Scott Smith's spring Consumer Behavior course is experiencing gamification theory as a tool for enhancing education and participation in the classroom.
"The gamification theory, in essence, is the use of game techniques in non-game situations to heighten engagement," Smith says. "It focuses on the individual's innate need for validation through competition."
The class format is similar to playing a game. The students are split into teams, competing for the winning spot on each level while applying concepts they have learned in class. There are also incentives, such as free lunch and T-shirts, to motivate students toward their end goal.
The incentives for each level are provided by their real-world client, Bluff Dwellers Cavern. Collin Bunch, manager of marketing applications in the business partnerships and outreach department, connected Smith's class with this client, who handed over their company's social media information and trust to the students.
Smith says the students seem to be enjoying the creative liberty of deciding how to enhance the social reach of Bluff Dwellers Cavern from a different perspective.
"I think classes have become too content driven," Smith says. "In this class, the students are leading the charge."
By expanding the classroom experience, Smith is providing an environment for students to experience learning to a greater degree.
Racing Red Tails Ready for Air Race Classic
Aviation student Molly Brand will participate in one of the most prestigious, all-female, cross-country events this summer, The Air Race Classic. Brand and her teammate, Miyukiko "KoKo" Kostelny, will start the race in Pasco, Wash. on June 18 and will finish in Fayetteville, Ark. on June 21.
"It is a cross-country competition to celebrate females in the aviation industry," Brand says. "The accuracy of planning and efficiency of flight, rather than who gets there first, is more important in this competition."
The duo, known as the "Racing Red Tails," will compete against more than 50 pairs of female pilots who have hundreds of hours of flying experience and completed the race multiple times. The race will last four days and span 2,400 nautical miles.
"The aviation program at UCM is of the highest quality," Brand says. "There is an emphasis on holding yourself to a higher degree. The faculty have already expressed their support and are willing to help us prepare in any way they can."
Brand hopes to inspire females at UCM and around the country to pursue a fun and rewarding career. By participating in a once-in-a-lifetime event while gaining real-world experience that is important to her future, Brand is learning to a greater degree.
Nordyke Honored by Learning to a Greater Degree Award
Alan Nordyke, director of residence and Greek life, goes above and beyond the call of duty outlined in his job description.
In addition to his assigned duties at work, Nordyke is the coordinator of the University of Central Missouri's Special Housing Interest Programs, is a member of the Student Success Committee, recruits graduate assistants for several departments and teaches on campus. "Being a part of professional organizations is great, I've enjoyed serving my field in that way," Nordyke says.
He is also established in the Warrensburg community as an active member within the local school district and his church.
Patrick Bradley, director of housing and dining services, nominated Nordyke, saying, "He performs his duties because he truly cares about students succeeding after they leave UCM, not for the personal accolades."
Nordyke has worked at UCM for more than 25 years. He came to UCM as he was looking for his first job and was able to grow within the university throughout the years.
Nordyke says, "I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to help others through my work here. I believe in what we're doing at the university, and that makes it easy to do my job."
By believing in students and providing his time and talent to UCM, Nordyke exemplifies learning to a greater degree.
Student Leader Recognized with Learning to a Greater Degree Award
In his second semester at UCM, senior Daniel Bender learned that some projects stretch beyond the classroom and affect more people than the students in the course.
Last fall, the Management of Organizations class put on a dance and raised more than $1,000 for a local charity, Music in Motion. The event was held for local men and women with Down syndrome and UCM students.
"The dynamic of the event was unexpectedly incredible," Bender says. He served as the project manager for the class.
On Friday, Bender was recognized for his embodiment of UCM's engaged learning and culture of service as the student recipient of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.
"He was a leader and motivator in a class project where he had very little power base," professor Mary McCord wrote in her nomination. "Without formal authority, Daniel moved the class toward their goal and the event was a success."
About 200 people attended the event; half of them were UCM students who paid $5 to attend. Additionally, the class sold bracelets to benefit the local group.
"This project definitely had an impact on me and others because it was such a unique concept of the classroom," Bender says. "We were able to touch and see the impact."
By being a student leader in a class project to benefit a local charity, Bender is learning to a greater degree.
Student Involvement Creates Hands-On Experience
Christina Parle, a junior Criminal Justice and Political Science major, understands the value of getting involved in campus activities.
She is a member in more than five student organizations, including the Criminal Justice Honors College. Parle also teaches supplemental instruction for political science courses and holds the position of vice president in the Student Government Association.
"Christina is one of our most energetic students," says Scott Chenault, interim department chair and assistant professor of criminal justice. "As a professor, getting students engaged is one of the biggest challenges in the classroom. With Christina, that is not a problem."
By participating in multiple student organizations at UCM, Parle says she has been able to develop her skills as a leader and a communicator.
"I know I want to be a leader," Parle says. "That means listening to others, accepting feedback and utilizing what I've learned."
As a supplemental instructor, Parle develops lesson plans and "games," such as Jeopardy, to assist students with their coursework. She says she relishes seeing students gain confidence with the material and enjoys learning how best to communicate with them.
By keeping an open mind, being involved and interacting with other students, Parle is learning to a greater degree.
Oxfam Hunger Banquet Provides Education and Inspiration to Students
Anna Jones, a Mass Communication graduate student, is gaining hands-on experience through a service-learning project in her Social Influence course.
In this course, the primary project is to organize and present the Oxfam Hunger Banquet at UCM. The banquet is a fundraising event intended to bring awareness to the community about the issue of world hunger.
"People don't realize that hunger can be an issue in their local area," Jones says. "It isn't just something that happens in third-world countries."
She says that the students are able to use persuasion techniques learned in class to educate and inspire people to make a difference by participating in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet.
"I believe that through words we have the ability to change perceptions," Jones says. "I want to bring about change."
Jones is a part of the banquet planning and education group. "We are in charge of organizing the poster presentation, creating a timeline for the event and scheduling a keynote speaker," Jones says. "I hope that people will step outside themselves for the night and appreciate what they have."
The banquet will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 11 in the Elliott Union Atrium and Union 238.
By applying coursework to real-world experience and spreading hunger awareness throughout the community, Jones is learning to a greater degree.
Knowledge From the Classroom Paves the Way for Real-World Experience
For two consecutive years Mat Thornton, a senior Music major, will spend his summer as a part of the Grease Monkeys, a three-piece percussion performance group at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.
Thornton and Ian McClaflin, a UCM alumnus, make up two-thirds of this team. The group performs on automotive-themed "rigs" that consist of overturned buckets, rolling toolboxes and an assortment of hubcaps.
"We took everything we've learned about percussion and applied it to the equipment, the music and the performance," Thornton says.
Percussionists from all around Missouri audition each year for the Grease Monkeys. The group performs a 15-20 minute show six times a day, six days a week.
"Worlds of Fun is a great starting point. A lot of professionals got their start there," Thornton says. "My ultimate goal is to play percussion for a living for the rest of my life. This summer, I was able to do that."
Thornton says that having the opportunity to play in every large ensemble on campus has opened him up to being in the limelight and putting on a show. "Each time it gets a little easier," Thornton says.
By gaining real-world experience in his degree field, Thornton is learning to a greater degree.
Student Recognized as Leader in his Field
Max Whitsell, a junior athletic training major, is making strides as a young professional in the athletic training industry.
Whitsell's experience during his clinicals at UCM led to him being chosen to attend the 2013 iLead Conference in Dallas, Texas. iLead is a leadership conference for up-and-coming college students pursuing careers in athletic training. He was one of only 150 students in the country selected to attend.
"I had a great time at the conference and learned a lot," Whitsell says. "The conference was during the same time as the Athletic Training Educators' Conference, so I was lucky to be able to network with a lot of professionals in the industry."
Whitsell also gained accolades as the Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 2012 Outstanding Athletic Training Student of the Year.
He may not have received such honors if he hadn't decided to "choose red." Whitsell says he decided on UCM because of the athletic training program's reputation, top-notch facilities and faculty leadership, and he hasn't looked back since.
Whitsell provides advice for someone thinking about coming to UCM for athletic training, "Get involved, be active and make connections. Those things will help you a lot."
The opportunities UCM has provided coupled with Whitsell's passion for helping others is why he is learning to a greater degree.
Hands-on Experience, Networking Adds Value for Education Majors
As a sophomore Family and Consumer Science Education major, April Gramenz is gaining experience beyond the classroom to support her abilities to lead one of her own.
When about 200 students from 15 high schools visited UCM for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America STAR competition, Gramenz and four of her peers served as judges for the competition and presented to the high school students about the FCSE major at UCM.
"No doubt their coursework is invaluable, but gaining an opportunity to work with high school students and networking with other teachers far exceeded what I could have taught them in class," assistant professor Billie Perrin says.
The projects Gramenz and her peers judged centered on issues such as recycling, and texting and driving.
"It was very interesting and impressive to see the projects students put together," Gramenz says.
This is not the only way that Gramenz has been involved. She has also presented about the FCSE major to a class of UCM's open options students.
"I love the program and all the opportunities," Gramenz says. "Family and Consumer Science is about real-world skills. It's useful no matter what you decide to do."
Gramenz and her fellow students are learning to a greater degree by taking advantage of hands-on learning opportunities, causing Perrin to be "busting with pride."
For Yearous, Volunteering is Second Nature
The University of Central Missouri provides numerous opportunities to give back. Senior Nicholas Yearous, an economics major, does his best to participate in all of them.
Yearous is a member of Mo Volunteers and UCM Breakers. He estimates he has been involved in more than 30 Mo Volunteer events. Additionally, he has participated in Breakers every year since his admittance to UCM in 2010.
"I wanted to find a way to learn what Warrensburg was all about when I moved here, so I volunteered," Yearous says.
Yearous' favorite experience was the Breakers trip to Fort Smith, Ark., his freshman year, where he learned how to build a home from his Habitat for Humanity leader.
Breakers is a group of student volunteers who participate in an alternate spring break program each year where they help rehabilitate homes with Habitat for Humanity International.
"I always look forward to these trips," Yearous says. "You have the chance to learn about the new homeowners and hear their stories. It makes the experience very fulfilling."
Mo Volunteers works with organizations such as Early Childhood Hunger Operation, Survival House and the Missouri Veterans home. "I help whenever I can," Yearous says.
By utilizing UCM’s opportunities to give back to the community, Yearous is learning to a greater degree.
Graduate Applies Skills, Knowledge at Black & Veatch
Ezekiel Vann graduated from UCM Dec. 2010 with a major in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, and an emphasis in Architecture. Immediately after completing his undergraduate degree, he started his master's degree in Technology Management and graduated summer 2012. Today, Vann works as an engineer technician in the federal division at Black & Veatch.
When asked how UCM influenced him, Vann referred to his instructors' worldly perspectives. They gave him well-rounded knowledge he could apply to his career.
"UCM prepared me for my career field by having such a great staff of dedicated instructors with real-world experience," he says. "I work hard and show an initiative to learn and progress in my career, which in turn shows Black & Veatch that UCM has great potential employees."
Vann consistently communicated with Black & Veatch throughout the last few years of his education. He received his first job offer from the company after completing his undergraduate degree, but he had already accepted a graduate assistant position at UCM.
"I received the second job offer at Black & Veatch by attending the UCM fall 2011 career fair and speaking to the representatives of the company," Vann says.
In his first full-time job directly after graduate school, Vann is prepared to excel because he experienced learning to a greater degree.