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Learning to a Greater Degree Award Winners

Congratulations to Colin Comer and Emily Northen, the fall 2016 recipients of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.


UCM Feature Stories

UCM Theatre Student Gains Experience as Mainstage Director

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UCM senior Dalton Pittenger will direct a UCM mainstage play, providing him with valuable experience as he enters the world of theatre education.


UCM senior Dalton Pittenger, a speech and theatre education major, will have a unique opportunity to experience engaged learning as he directs the premiere production of "Not Waving" by Richard Manley, a UCM mainstage theatre production.

"Not Waving," a play about a young girl coping with loss and finding her independence, is the winner of the National Playwriting Competition for Theatre for Young Audiences at UCM. The winning play is produced each year by the Department of Theatre and Dance, and this is the first year it is to be directed by a student.

"This is totally an engaged learning experience for me," Pittenger said. "What I've learned in the classroom, I'm actually doing--coaching actors to bring Richard Manley's characters to life on the stage."

In addition to directing the play, Pittenger also met Manley during his recent visit to campus. Manley conducted a workshop for theatre students, and Pittenger was able to discuss the play with him.

"It was great to talk to him about how he developed his characters and his motivations," Pittenger said. "In the real world of theatre, directors work with the playwrights on the interpretation of their work, so this is a valuable experience."

The before it opens on campus in November, the play will "go on the road" to area high schools in October, which offers Pittenger the opportunity to observe the response of a high school audience.

Dalton Pittenger is learning to a greater degree with his experiences as a director.

Scholarship Assists Aviation Major in Securing his Future

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Junior Zach Menz's future as a commercial pilot has received a boost with a scholarship that will assist with expenses.


For University of Central Missouri junior Zachary Menz, a career as a commercial airline pilot is his educational goal. To reach that goal, he has enrolled at UCM to major in aviation.

His first flight at the controls was daunting, but he's firmly on the track to completing his degree and attaining his dream. However, a degree in aviation a requires a specific number of hours of flight time, which can be expensive. With the required 40 hours of flight time for his private pilot license under his belt, he still has a journey ahead of him.

For Menz, the notification this summer that he had been chosen to receive a scholarship worth up to $10,000 from the steel manufacturer Gerdau North America provided the assistance he needed to realize his dream. The scholarship is available to the children of Gerdau employees, and Zach's father is employed by the company.

"It's a huge financial benefit for me," Zach said. "I'm thankful to Dad's company for choosing me out of all of the potential applicants."

Zach is part of the UCM Flight Team and a member of Alpha Eta Rho, an aviation fraternity. By next spring, he hopes to have enough hours to fly in bad weather. Then he will work toward his commercial rating.

"Aviation is an expensive major, but this scholarship will help me obtain the hours I need to reach my goal and secure my future in aviation," Menz said.

UCM Advantage Scholarships Validate Students' Hard Work and Determination

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Carmen Binder, learning specialist for the UCM Advantage program, works individually students to prepare them for success in college and in the future.


In the working world, the paycheck can be a motivation to do a good job. However, for 88 students in the UCM Advantage program, which helps students achieve success in college as they focus on their futures, the $250 scholarships they received this summer for successfully completing the academic year were much more than a cash reward.

"The scholarship was designed to reward to the students for their hard work and determination," said Carmen Binder, learning specialist for the program. "There are many factors that motivate them to stay the course, and the scholarship is one that provides an important validation for them."

However, for UCM advantage student Leigha Zank, a sophomore from Independence, the check she received this summer provided that validation of her hard work and determination.

"I didn't even realize I would receive the scholarship," she said. "I had terrible grades in high school, so I just figured that was all I was capable of. I ended my first year at UCM with As and Bs, and receiving the scholarship made me want to work even harder."

The money will help with her college expenses, but the check, for her, symbolized the recognition that she could exceed even her own expectations and make it in college.

The UCM Advantage scholarships are a key factor in helping students realize their dreams as they focus on a bright future.

Hughes Encourages Students in Seek Opportunities for Service

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Brian Hughes encourages his students to go beyond their job descriptions to seek opportunities for service to their chosen profession.


UCM's Brian Hughes, professor of athletic training and director of the Athletic Training program, was named the Outstanding Athletic Trainer of the Year from the Missouri Athletic Trainers Association this summer.

Hughes received the award not only for his expertise, but also for his service to professional organizations at the state and national levels--something he encourages this students to do as they enter the profession.

"I got into athletic training because I was interested in helping athletes recover from injury," Hughes said. "When I realized how much teaching I was doing when I was working with my athletic training student and student-athletes, it just made sense to pursue the degrees I needed to become a mentor to those entering the profession."

Hughes values the opportunity to make a contribution to his profession by participating in activities that go beyond his job description.

"I hope I lead by example," he said. "I tell my students it's OK to take on a leadership role professionally. Do something more--step up to the plate for the benefit of others."

While he appreciates the recognition by his peers, he believes he has gained even more from the knowledge that his involvement has made a difference.

"I tell my students that professional recognition is nice, but it's not all about you," he said. "I hope that one day they can look back on their careers and say, 'Yes, I did make difference.'"

By encouraging his students to take the extra step in service to their profession, Hughes provides them with the opportunity for learning to a greater degree.

UCM Anthropology Student Assists in Preserving a Family's History

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UCM anthropology major Hannah Pilgrim worked with funeral home personnel in removing remains of the Miller family to a new resting place in the Holden Cemetery.


UCM junior Hannah Pilgrim made the decision to study forensic anthropology because of her fascination with bones. A chance encounter this summer provided her with unique opportunity for engaged learning.

During a field trip this summer with her archaeology class, Pilgrim met Carl Cranfill, the great-grandson of the Joseph Miller, who built the Miller Mausoleum in Holden as a final resting place for members of his family. As the years passed, the two-story mausoleum had fallen into disrepair. Cranfill has undertaken the talk of restoring the landmark.

After meeting Pilgrim, Cranfill offered her the opportunity to work with personnel from a local funeral home in removing the remains of several generations of Millers for transfer to the local cemetery.

"The funeral home staff showed me what they were doing in opening the crypts and removing the bones into boxes," Pilgrim said. She wore gloves while removing remains, sifting to make sure smaller and bones were located. At Cranfill's request, she provided several bones to Cranfill to allow to him to submit them for future DNA testing.

After graduation, Pilgrim hopes to work a forensic anthropology laboratory assisting with the identification of remains.

"The funeral home team made sure I knew what I was doing and answered all my questions," Pilgrim said. "It was a wonderful experience that I didn't think I would have until graduate school."

By playing a part in the preservation of the history of the Miller family, Hannah Pilgrim experienced learning to a greater degree.

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