UCM Feature Stories
Trading Moon Pow Wow Offers Exposure to Rich Cultural Traditions
The study of the cultures of the world provides University of Central Missouri students with a worldly perspective that adds value to a UCM degree.
Recently added to this list was the opportunity to study the Native American culture as UCM hosted the Native American Trading Moon Pow Wow for the past two years during fall semester.
"The interest in developing a program in Native American culture began in late 2014 and early 2015," said Catherine Burris, director of the UCM Center for Religious Studies. "We approached the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences with the idea, and he felt the program offered value for our students."
The first pow-wow in UCM's Student Recreation and Wellness Center in November 2015 was well attended. Area Native American tribes performed ritual dances and music for students and the surrounding community. The second pow wow in November 2016 resulted in increased attendance and an expanded program.
As a result, an online course in Native American Religions was added to UCM"s online curriculum for spring 2017. Brian Clearwater, Ph.D., instructor in Native American studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles, teaches the course.
"The response from the Native American community has been very positive," Burris said, "and it opens a window on the Native American culture for our UCM students. They are able to study a part of American culture that they have known about, but that is not often exhibited in this part of the country."
Interactive Robot Technology Benefits UCM Education Students
Providing the engaged learning opportunities that allow students to complete required field observations presented a problem for Renee Coltrin, instructor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
"For our students, it's difficult to find the time and transportation to do off-site observations that allow them to see a variety different curriculum applications," Coltrin said. "We needed to find a way to allow them to interact with a variety of real-time classroom situations."
This semester, Coltrin is testing a solution using a Double interactive robot that allows students to visit and interact with a classroom miles away while sitting in a UCM classroom. Named Sir Winston by the UCM students, the remote controlled robot with an iPad attached has been placed in a preschool classroom in the Higginsville C-1 School District. Controlled by the user from a laptop computer, Sir Winston can roam the classroom, and UCM students can interact with the teacher and students via a two-way communication such as Skype or FaceTime.
"It took some time to complete the necessary interaction with the school district's network, but it's working well," Coltrin said. "The classroom teacher has had instruction on things like 'don't touch,' and we had to deal with background noise, but after a short period of time, the preschool students don't seem to notice Sir Winston's presence."
While the use of Double robotics has been used previously in business and education, the application of this technology at UCM, in the form of Sir Winston, has provided UCM education students with future-focused and engaged learning opportunities, allowing them to learn to a greater degree.
UCM Advantage Offers a Focus on Future Successes
Admission to college is a major life goal for future success. For some, circumstances make that goal difficult, if not impossible, to attain, while for others, staying in college, once admitted, is also a major challenge.
The UCM Advantage Program offers conditional admission to a limited number of students who did not qualify for admission based on academic rank, GPA and ACT scores, providing a focus for their future successes. Each student is admitted on academic probation, but UCM Advantage offers the support needed to see them through completion of a degree.
"Previous programs assisted students in setting goals for completion of their first semester or their first year," said Chris Stockdale, director of UCM Advantage. "We provide assistance from a learning specialist in developing a learning plan and achieving goals through the first year and beyond."
The learning specialist meets individually with each student annually, reviewing academic progress and creating a specialized learning plan that builds upon their successes and suggests solutions for their struggles. Assistance is provided throughout the four years of study through the academic support offered in UCM"s Learning Commons, which is administered through the Department of Academic Enrichment. For each year successfully completed, UCM Advantage students receive a $250 reward. UCM Advantage students also participate in service learning opportunities and receive assistance in career counseling and job placement upon graduation.
Pint Recognized for Excellence in Academic Advising
Providing students in UCM's Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies with the information and encouragement they need to succeed is Jennifer Pint's profession, as well as her passion.
Pint has served as an academic advisor at UCM for 17 years of her 22-year career in the field. She was recognized in April 2016 as the UCM Academic Advisor of the Year and received the Outstanding Academic Advising Award-Primary Role from the Missouri Academic Advising Association in September 2016.
She will be nationally recognized in February as she receives the Region 7 Award for Excellence in Advising-Primary Role at the Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) regional conference in Tulsa.
"I treat each student as an individual, and I let them know I care," Pint said. "I review every student's records thoroughly when they come to me, and I try to anticipate their needs so I can guide them toward a successful completion of their degrees in four years."
Betsy Kreisel, associate dean of the Harmon College, noted that Pint builds rapport with students, understanding their needs on an individual basis. "It's not uncommon for students to send her, or me about her, notes of appreciation," Kreisel said. "They describe the time and commitment she offers and the friendly guidance she provides. It's apparent to students that she is committed to their overall well-being and success."
Senior Emily Northen Recognized with Learning to a Greater Degree Award
Senior finance major Emily Northen was recognized by the UCM Board of Governors in November with the fall Learning to a Greater Degree award for her commitment to engaged learning and the UCM culture of service.
As an office assistant in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Emily served the department's faculty and students while the department's office professional was absent on extended leave, coordinating the department's awards banquet and training the temporary office professional. As a student employee on campus, she has twice been nominated for the Student Employee of the Year Award.
Emily's commitment to service includes her sorority, where she served as treasurer and liaison to the Panhellenic Council and participates in a variety of community service events. She also provides leadership as a career development ambassador in the Office of Career Services, assisting students in developing job applications and answering inquiries about services provided by the office.
Her commitment to engaged learning and future focused academics is exemplified by her participation beyond the classroom while attaining academic excellence. Emily earned first place in Sports and Entertainment Marketing at the Missouri Career Development Conference in 2014 and second place in 2016 while also claiming first place on the marketing exam. She is a member of Rho Lambda honor society and is consistently named to the Dean's List.
Through her dedication and commitment to service and engaged learning, Emily is learning to a greater degree.