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Student Stories

UCM Alumnus Provides Opportunity for UCM Students to Promote Nonprofit Cause

UCM students (left to right) Ted Jones, Luke Orf and Nick Brehe apply their skills to promote Unlocked Furniture, a nonprofit founded by a UCM alumnus.

UCM alumnus Ian Kuklenski co-founded the nonprofit Unlocked Furniture to provide desks to children worldwide. After earning degrees in Management and Finance, Kuklenski began working in factories abroad; his experiences overseas changed his perspective.

"My business partner, Doug VanderValk, and I were looking for new ways to stretch ourselves," says Kuklenski. "When Doug saw a picture of kids sitting in the dirt at school, we realized this was a need we could help fill."

Kuklenski reached out to his former marketing professor, Scott Smith, at UCM and his consumer behavior class to help raise funds in 40 days to help buy and ship desks to a school in China. The unique desks pack flat, and for each one purchased, one is donated.

The students were tasked with raising awareness to help meet the organization's goal. Their strategies had to be free with measurable results.

"I've been able to apply knowledge gained in class to develop a marketing plan," says Nick Brehe, senior Management major. "The best part about this project is that I get to help with this great cause."

By working with an alumnus to give other students around the world a better learning environment, Smith's consumer behavior class is learning to a greater degree.

Business Students Gain Significant Advantage with Bloomberg Software

UCM is one of only two public universities in Missouri with 12 Bloomberg terminals, professional software that allows students to research companies' financial information.

The Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies now has 12 computer terminals with the Bloomberg Professional service installed, which allows entire classes to conduct financial and economic research. UCM is one of only two public universities in Missouri that has 12 Bloomberg terminals, and the students here are putting that advantage to good use.

The student-managed investment fund class established in cooperation with the UCM Foundation will be using Bloomberg to research and evaluate companies they wish to include in their stock portfolio.

"The Bloomberg software has extensive information about every security, sector, trade, company and market, as well as the ability to pull financial news from major international news sources," says Mohit Srivastava, a graduate student in the investment fund class. "I feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to gain such real-world experience. I urge every finance or business major to utilize such a phenomenal resource."

According to Economics, Finance and Marketing Chair Jose Mercado, Bloomberg is the top source for financial information and news. "To select the best companies, students need the best information in the business," he adds.

By using Bloomberg software to get up-to-the-minute financial and economic information, UCM business students are learning to a greater degree.

SAFE Team Provides Valuable Experience, Supports Student Safety

UCM student Jacob Prindle, a SAFE Team member, provides an evening escort for a student leaving the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Jacob Prindle is a three-year member of the Student Assistant Foot Patrol and Escort Team for the Department of Public Safety. Combining this job with a Criminal Justice major is valuable experience for his future.

The SAFE Team is a group of 12 student workers who ensure the safety of the campus and its students by patrolling the campus at night. Their main priority is to provide escorts to students in need; they also secure buildings, maintain emergency communication systems and assist UCM police officers.

"The experience I've gained here is a great start to my law enforcement career and will help me after I graduate," says Prindle, whose father served on the SAFE Team's predecessor, the Mule Patrol.

Although Prindle is not technically a law enforcement official, he believes in the impact SAFE Team has on campus and his future career.

"Our presence helps deter criminal activity that might otherwise take place if we were not there," says Prindle. "We make the campus a safer place every year."

SAFE Team escorts are available for students Monday through Friday during the academic year from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and later on weekends. To request a SAFE Team escort, call 660-543-4123.

By gaining law enforcement experience and serving the campus while studying criminal justice, Prindle is learning to a greater degree.

Waste Analysis Project Promotes Sustainability, Students as Agents of Change

Students in Sustainability Operations Management set up Fastenal recycle bins in Ward Edwards and Dockery to promote sustainability on campus.

Professor Matthew VanSchenkhof and the Sustainability Operations Management class are changing ideas about trash. The class worked to discover cost-effective and environmentally friendly waste management strategies. During the fall 2013 semester, the class specifically focused on a waste analysis project.

"The first day, 100 percent of the students stated they didn’t care about solid waste," says VanSchenkhof. "They separated eight bags of trash from Ward Edwards and Dockery that day. Their amazement at how much of the material in the bags is recyclable, I think, really hit home."

The curriculum focuses on issues of sustainability in a wide variety of topics including government and gardening, issues that are outside the norm of "going green."

"The class is unique because it does not provide answers to these problems, it encourages students to develop their own solutions and critique existing ones," says Maria Frank, senior Business Management student.

In partnership with Fastenal, the class has placed 120 recycle bins on campus. Though the trash cans may not seem like much, they have made a tremendous impact.

"One of the missions is to move students from being a critical thinker into a change agent," says VanSchenkhof. "This class is designed to create a change agent, a person of action."

Positively impacting the environment for generations to come, the students in Sustainability Operations Management are learning to a greater degree.

Student-Run Businesses Gain Real-World Experience

Coasters 5000 took the hands-on experience to a new level as the first IBE company to produce its own product.

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.