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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 28, 2014) – Crossing the stage and receiving a diploma is an important milestone for a high-school senior. For nine area students involved in an innovative program with benefits that include accelerating the time it takes to earn a college degree, leaving high-school this spring also nearly coincided with their graduation from Metropolitan Community College (MCC) with an associate degree.
As a result of attending the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), these students not only receive their associate degree soon after earning their high-school diploma, they will begin classes at the University of Central Missouri next fall on track to earn a bachelor's degree just two years after graduating from high school. Perhaps even more remarkable is that MIC students will complete the entire program – associate and bachelor's degrees – at almost no cost to the students or their families.
MCC-Longview President Kirk Nooks congratulates Missouri Innovation Campus students receiving their associate degree at the Metropolitan Community College spring graduation ceremony, including (from left) Nate Orson, Brian Green, Glenn Banhart and Joey Nooner. Other students also receiving their associate degrees this summer are Max Ostrander, Michael Robertson, Keaton Thomson, Trevor Brixey and Quinn Cosgrove.
"We are certainly proud of all the students who received associate degrees at this spring's MCC commencement ceremony, and we are especially proud of the MIC students, as they are blazing a trail for other high-school juniors and seniors to take control of their college pursuits early," said Mark James, MCC chancellor.
The Missouri Innovation Campus is a one-of-a-kind program offered thanks to a collaboration involving the Lee's Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College, UCM and a number of industry-leading business partners.
"The young men and women completing their first two years of study through the MIC are essentially pioneers in an initiative that changes the way higher education is being delivered," said Charles Ambrose, UCM president. "As these students continue through the program, they will reap benefits that include developing job-ready skills through internships with high-tech companies and a future without high college debt because of opportunities provided at the MIC."
"The MIC has exposed me to many brilliant people," said Quinn Aylward, MIC student. "It has been a fun learning experience that has taught me a lot."
Just last summer, The MIC captured national attention when President Barack Obama highlighted the program and its benefits for students and families during a visit to UCM. President Obama called MIC "a recipe for success over the long term."
"This visionary program allows us to prepare our students for a bright future while also serving as a model of how public school districts, higher education and businesses can work together in a whole new way," said David McGehee, Lee's Summit R-7 superintendent.
Student Trey Hecker said he is grateful to be a part of MIC. "It is a lot of work, but I just look at what the end result is and that keeps me working hard," he said.
Elaine Metcalf, director of Summit Technology Academy, said the students have skills that are in demand such as AutoCAD, Inventor and Rivet. "These technical skills combined with the college coursework make these students very competitive with any other college intern vying for jobs," she added. "The difference is that MIC students get to intern for three consecutive years with local companies, as opposed to just a one-time summer experience."
"The hands-on experience is great," added Zack Decker, MIC student.
Students enter the MIC as juniors, taking classes at Summit Technology Academy for two years while they earn their high-school diploma and associate degree. Throughout the students' involvement in the four-year program, they participate in high-impact internships and on-the-job training thanks to the commitment from partnering businesses. These companies, which help underwrite the cost of the training provided through the program, are a vital component of MIC's success. Additional funding for program costs associated with the Missouri Innovation Campus comes from state grants totaling $1.5 million.
Representatives from the businesses supporting the MIC assert that the program is not only beneficial for the students but also for the industries where they will end up working.
"As a practicing engineer, I definitely see the value in this type of program as it provides a realistic job experience that can help students identify areas of interest," said Michael E. Mallett of Saint Luke's Health System.
"Based on the success of the first round of students, three of which are interning with us, we hope to grow our partnership with The MIC, especially as it expands and adds new fields of study," said Beth Sweetman of DST.
Renee Gartelos of Burns and McDonnell added, "We believe it is vital that we do our part to build the pipeline for engineering and technical professionals in our city and in our country."
The Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy are open to qualifying students from Lee's Summit R-7 as well as the 19 area high schools. The sending high schools pay tuition to the R-7 School District for the courses. For more information about the MIC, visit ucmo.edu/about/mic/.