Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity – Aristotle
This quote is one I can relate to on a deeply intimate level. True power is acquired through knowledge and incorporating the wisdom one has developed into the actions one takes. Missouri Western State University (MWSU) has surely assisted in my prosperity, leading to the fulfilling career I have today, but perhaps more significant and valuable, is how MWSU became my refuge in adversity, providing me a home where I am safe to grow and overcome past struggles. MWSU not only changed my life in the most positive of ways, it also saved my life in the truest sense.
Although I am currently pursuing my MSW (Master of Social Work), I would like to rewind my story back to when I first arrived at Missouri Western State University. At that time, I was working hard to pull my life out of the gutter. Part of my history includes years of suffering from the disease of addiction, which runs in my family. For so long, it was all I knew. My addiction eventually led to a drug-related conviction. Fortunately, I decided to seek treatment and overcome the blight of active addiction. I realized my life was worth more than how I was living, and I made a commitment to strive to live up to my full-potential. It was at this time I applied to MWSU and began reinventing myself.
During my first semester pursuing a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work), I met three extraordinary professors, who are indeed among the most influential people in my life. They have profoundly impacted numerous facets of my being. It was because of the genuine kindness displayed by Professor Grey Endres that I felt truly seen for the first time. My self-worth blossomed because he saw me as more than my past decisions; I was instead a valued person with much to offer the world. Additionally, Professor Pam Clary oriented herself as a role model in the social work field and assisted me in acquiring a position as a Case Manager at the organization where I underwent my practicum. Professor Jana Frye taught me the importance of not taking myself too seriously, and the invaluable skill of connecting with clients and colleagues.
I was encouraged by my professors to join the Organization of Student Social Workers (OSSW), in which we took part in real-world change via Walk for the Homeless and Change for Change, raising $10,000 to help those vulnerable in our community. Additionally, I was accepted into the Social Work Honor Society: Phi Alpha. While at Missouri Western, I attained a 4.0 for every course, making the President’s Honor list each semester. Social work ethics, values, and theories have infiltrated every aspect of my cognition. For this I am most grateful. Moreover, I secured the knowledge and expertise needed to further empower the populations I serve with a strengths-based perspective through guidance and encouraging self-determination. Perhaps the most memorable experience of my life thus far occurred at MoWest. During our commencement ceremony, I had the honor of receiving the Geri Dickey for Social Justice Award, which is in recognition of my ongoing pursuit of social change with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.
Before coming to Missouri Western, past mistakes had made upward mobility an onerous challenge. MWSU provided me with the chance to prove myself and introduced people into my life who believed in me and my capabilities. For a great many people with a criminal history, it is almost impossible to break free from a self-perpetuating cycle, beginning with the inability to secure adequate employment due to a conviction, which leads to not being able to obtain permanent housing due to a lack of money. eventually causing one to return to negative behaviors and drug addiction, finally landing back into jail or prison. Because of Missouri Western, I do not have to endure this destructive cycle. I can instead use my unique life experiences to help others who are still struggling, as I once was. I have broken the chains of addiction and become a first generation college graduate.
An education which provides meaning demands a disciplined and multi-faceted approach. This education should serve to evolve one’s very essence, and to build their character – MWSU has provided exactly that. I am immensely grateful to the altruistic individuals and generous organizations which donate to Missouri Western State University. Philanthropic giving to MoWest and investing in a person’s education is a worthwhile use of resources, with continuing impact. I find it imperative to remind these private donors of the lives they are changing, and in some cases, the lives they are saving. Missouri Western has permanently transformed my life and given me the chance to contribute to the flourishing of individuals and society.