Center offers credit for service
One of Missouri Western’s values is service, and Dr. Melody Smith said the University is now “putting action” behind that value. After pilot programs in the spring and summer, this fall marked the full launch of the Center for Service, where students can earn credit hours for community service, at no cost.
“Critical skills development is central to our core mission and applied learning is our focus,” said Dr. Smith, who developed the Center. “So the Center seeks to provide opportunities to learn and serve by connecting students to volunteer opportunities.”
Students can earn one free elective credit hour for every 40 hours of service, up to 120 hours and three credit hours.
The Center created three categories of service. The first, community engagement, is a general category that offers a variety of service opportunities. Dr. Smith noted that students who are not from the immediate St. Joseph area can commit to service in their hometowns.
In fact, this past summer, as part of the pilot program, a student volunteered in Brookfield, Missouri.
The second category of service is career readiness, where students may select an activity that is related to their major. And the third, civic outreach, allows students to select a service that suits their passion or helps with a cause they support. Dr. Smith said she has had many inquiries from students that fit this category because they want to work in an animal shelter.
Dr. Smith said partnering with organizations and businesses has been an important part of creating the Center, as those entities can reach out to the Center with service opportunities. She is happy that the Center’s work will benefit communities. In fact, the City of St. Joseph has contributed funding for the Center.
This past summer, six students, all members of Missouri Western’s women’s soccer team, volunteered at the American Red Cross of Northwest Missouri as part of the Center’s pilot program. They were able to complete service hours remotely, doing casework for disaster relief.
Dr. Smith noted that many student organizations have a community service component, but the Center now gives access to service opportunities to all students.
“Missouri Western has a long history of connecting with our community,” she said. “Athletes, Greek organizations, Griffon Edge first-year students, academic departments, student organizations and others have generously served our local community for decades, logging thousands of hours of service each year. Now we will complement this established tradition by offering service opportunities to all degree-seeking students.”
Dr. Gary Clapp will serve as the director of the Center following Dr. Smith’s retirement this past summer. The Center is located on the second floor of Eder Hall.
Center for military on campus
When Joe Midgley got out of the Army and went to college, he didn’t know where to turn to get help with his military education benefits and his other concerns. Additionally, the veteran quickly realized that he had had quite a different life experience than most of his classmates, so he didn’t quite fit in.
That was why, this past spring, he jumped at the opportunity to set up Missouri Western’s new Center for Military and Veterans Services on the second floor of Eder Hall.
“I’m very excited about building something I know will help people,” he said when he was hired last March. “I want the center to be a home away from home.”
Midgley, who served in the U.S. Army and most recently served as the Assistant Director – Military and Veterans Recruitment/Coordination at California University of Pennsylvania, said he wants to make sure the center includes opportunities for socializing and relaxing, along with study spaces and a kitchen area. He offers those who come in, help with not just military-related things, but school schedules, financial aid and more.
“I mainly want to create a warm, welcoming environment.”
A few years ago, Missouri Western consolidated its services for military students and began offering degrees that fit their schedules and circumstances (see “Missouri Western offers military-friendly options”). But the Center for Military and Veterans Services creates the missing physical space, and Midgley was hired to develop that and manage all military and veterans services. Before, military students were always welcome in the Nontraditional and Commuter Student gathering space, but now there will be the space just for veterans, current military members and their spouses and dependents.
Midgley said he also wants to increase membership in the current Student Veterans of America organization on campus, and he plans to hold lunch-and-learns for faculty and staff throughout the academic year to educate them on military matters.
“My goal is when someone says ‘military,’ everyone will say, ‘Go see Joe.’”
Midgley said the closing of campus one week after he started his new job at Missouri Western because of COVID-19 changed his plans of meeting employees and military students face-to-face, but he held a lot of virtual meetings and made a lot of phone calls until classes resumed in the fall.
“This will be a comfortable place where they feel accepted,” Midgley said. “We need a shared space for those going through things that nonmilitary people may not understand. I want them to be able to say what they want to say and it will stay here.
Missouri Western offers military-friendly options
Missouri Western offers many opportunities for military members and veterans to obtain their degrees.
One benefit for active-duty and military veterans and their spouses and dependents is that they can receive in-state tuition for courses they take from the University.
Military members and veterans can also apply credits from their Joint Services Transcript or Community College of the Air Force Transcript as the foundation of the University’s Bachelor of Science in Technology degree.
When Joe Armato ’20, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, was looking for a university to continue his studies and earn a bachelor’s degree, he said Missouri Western offered him the best path through the Bachelor of Science in Technology, and Armato earned that degree this past May.
“I reached out and found out about the BST,” he said. “It was great because it was designed specifically for me.”
The best part, he said, was because of his associate degree from Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods and having his military experience count as credit hours through the Joint Services Transcript, he found out he could finish and graduate from Missouri Western in just one year. Since he lived in Kansas City, he was able to complete the degree with a concentration in criminal justice all online.
Another degree, the Bachelor of General Studies, is an undergraduate degree specifically for learners who have delayed or interrupted their studies, or for whom their original major is no longer appropriate. A student is required to have at least 75 earned credit hours with an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher and completed general studies, math and English composition.
The degree allows the student to build a custom concentration out of two minors, rather than a single content focus, while meeting all bachelor’s degree requirements. It is open to all students who fit the criteria, but it especially appeals to many military members or veterans.
“These men and women have done a lot for our country,” said Joe Midgley, director of the Military and Veterans Center on campus. “Now we can help them expand their knowledge, earn a degree and join the workforce.”
New Center Addresses Regional Workforce Need
Missouri Western’s new Center for Workforce Development will offer a variety of workforce development and continuing education opportunities. The Center was established based on the increased need, magnified by COVID-19, in our region for basic skills training and continuing education courses. A variety of workforce development and continuing education opportunities will be offered, including GED prep, career development, Microsoft Office Suite, various certifications and certification prep.
The Center has partnered with an external provider to offer the self-paced, non-credit courses completely online. The Center’s ultimate goal is to help people get back to work and continue to support our region’s workforce.
For more information, you can contact Annette Weeks by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling (816) 271-4283, or visiting Popplewell 203. If you’re ready to expand your skill set, earn professional credits, or learn something new, visit the Center’s website at missouriwestern.edu/workforce.