Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content


Learning to a Greater Degree Award graphic
Learning to a Greater Degree graphic




UCM Feature Stories

UCM Class Project Brings Food to Children in Need

UCM students and ECHO volunteers have fun while packing backpacks for children in need in the community.

In 2010, 10 UCM students recognized a need to provide young children in Johnson County with food on the weekends. They established the Early Childhood Hunger Operation, which continues to provide backpacks filled with food, family materials and occasionally over-the-counter medicines to more than 100 preschool children in Warrensburg each week.

Developed as part of a social work and entrepreneurship class, ECHO challenged these students to strategically research, plan and implement a sustainable social enterprise in less than six weeks.

"ECHO helped me understand the preparation needed for creating a business venture and what it would take to keep such a worthy cause going," says Sarah Williams, UCM Social Work alumna.

For these students, creating and working for ECHO was a successful, one-of-a-kind achievement, but as it grew into a strong sustainable entity, additional help became necessary. In 2013, Jamie Grohe stepped on board as ECHO's part-time director.

"Accepting a permanent position with ECHO was a wonderful decision," says Grohe. "Each day I go into work knowing that helping provide this small need will make a big difference."

Now an established program, ECHO is housed in the UCM StartUp Center and has delivered weekly backpacks to more than 120 families for four years.

Through ECHO, UCM students leveraged an engaged learning experience to serve the community and continue learning to a greater degree.

Vansell Selected to Lead National Campus Public Safety

Kim Vansell, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for UCM, has been selected as the Director of the National Center for Campus Public Safety in Burlington, Vermont.

After 30 years of service at UCM, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Kim Vansell has been selected from more than 800 applicants as the inaugural Director of the National Center for Campus Public Safety. Based in Burlington, Vermont, the center serves as a key resource for public safety officials on college campuses across the United States.

There are unique challenges in campus policing — Vansell approaches campus safety from an educational perspective, focusing on helping students make good decisions in college.

"Chief Vansell has provided outstanding leadership for UCM," says Shari Bax, vice provost for student experience and engagement. "Her deep expertise and unswerving commitment will serve the center well."

Vansell began her career in public safety at UCM, then CMSU, as a student majoring in Criminal Justice Administration. She was hired by Public Safety as a dispatcher, and soon advanced to police officer. She has also worked with community groups on prevention of substance abuse and sexual assault.

"All the things I've been involved in, including grants, prevention of violence against women, risk management and substance abuse prevention, has developed me and prepared me for this job," says Vansell, "I can't wait to talk to folks on a national level."

As an advocate for national campus safety, Vansell demonstrates learning to a greater degree.

UCM Alumna Contributes to Golden Globe, Oscar Wins for Frozen

UCM alumna Kristin Yadamec (second from left and inset) shows off the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for her work on the film Frozen.

Kristin Yadamec, a 2002 UCM alumna, worked on the animation and production of the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning film Frozen. The film won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film.

"Winning both awards was spectacular," says Yadamec. "Every movie you work on, you pour your blood, sweat and tears into it, and hope the industry recognizes it. Frozen is special, and we felt that while working on it."

Yadamec, who has her Theatre Education degree from UCM, was the production supervisor for technical animation and crowds for the film, and was responsible for the scheduling, morale and working with other supervisors to ensure the creative integrity.

Her degree and a friendship gained during Yadamec's time as an undergraduate, helped her land the job as production assistant at Disney Animation Studios in 2006. Since then she has helped with the production of Disney Animation Films such as Bolt, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and more.

"The UCM Theatre Department supported me and gave me the experiences that helped get me to where I am today," says Yadamec."The professors fostered an amazing environment of opportunities and growth."

By using her education and experiences at UCM to pursue her dreams at Disney Animation Studios, Yadamec continues learning to a greater degree.

Future-Focused Music Professor Gets Googley-Eyed

Professor Scott Lubaroff uses Google Glass to improve the classroom experience during his undergraduate conducting courses.

Scott Lubaroff, professor of music and director of bands, is participating in the Google Glass Explorer Program and is collaborating with others to improve higher education through technology.

"I'm trying to develop applications for Google Glass in music instruction, specifically conducting," says Lubaroff. "I've made contact with a software developer in hopes that we could collaborate to develop an app.

Google Glass is a new technology that appears to be an ordinary pair of glasses, but comes equipped with a built in heads-up display in the right eyepiece. Users of the glasses can give voice commands to take and share photos, get directions and stream live video.

"I've used Google Glass in one of my undergraduate conducting classes," says Lubaroff. "Primarily to take video, which is neat because students get to see what I see from my perspective while conducting."

Currently, Google Glass costs $1,500 and candidates must be selected to participate in the program. The program's purpose is to find more uses and applications for the technology through various research.

"I think it presents some exciting opportunities to deliver instruction in the classroom in more innovative ways," says Lubaroff. "This may open up new possibilities for teaching in all disciplines."

By interacting with cutting-edge technology in their music courses, Lubaroff's students experience learning to a greater degree.

The Talking Mules win 12th Montgomery Cup in the United Kingdom

UCM's Talking Mules (left to right) David Rogers, Sydney Crank, Alyssa Clifton, Samantha Begley, Jeff May and Ethan Putman with coaches Nikki Freeman and Jack Rogers won the Montgomery Cup in the U.K.

The Talking Mules speech and debate team traveled to the United Kingdom for a two-week competition where they won the Montgomery Cup for the 12th time.

Six UCM students were led by coaches, Jack Rogers, director of forensics, and Nikki Freeman, associate director of forensics. They traveled around the U.K., competing against teams from England, Ireland and Scotland.

"What allows us to continue winning is the strong leadership from our coaches," says Samantha Begley, a junior Political Science and French major. "Spending time with five other debaters and our coaches created a close-knit team that was hard to beat."

Begley highlighted the fun the team had sightseeing, visiting Inverness and taking a boat ride across the Loch Ness.

Seventeen years ago, Rogers and Trevor Sather, a former debate's convenor for the English speaking union, created the Montgomery Cup as an international debate competition. Rogers explained the Talking Mules' wins could be accredited to the hard work of the students, his 30 years of experience and the support of the UCM faculty and community.

"Our UCM students are blessed to get to compete at an international level," says Rogers. "These high-impact learning opportunities allow the students to experience new styles of debate and different cultures."

By competing overseas and gaining worldly perspective, the Talking Mules are learning to a greater degree.

Read more feature stories.