Alumni Director Receives Athena Award from Carthage Chamber

Lee Elliff Pound, director of the Missouri Southern Alumni Association, was the recipient of the Athena Leadership Award during the recent 2017 Carthage Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

The nationally recognized award is presented in honor of “professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills,” according to the Athena International website. The local award is sponsored by the Ruth I. Kolpin Foundation and SMB Bank.

“It was a very nice surprise,” says Pound. “The award is beautiful.”

In addition to her duties with the Alumni Association, Pound serves as secretary of the Carthage School Board, vice president of the Carthage Community Foundation, a member of the artCentral and Carthage R-9 Foundation boards, and a member of Chapter AP of PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization), the Mimosa Garden Club, the Shakespeare Society and is an alumnae of Delta Gamma. In 2015, she was selected as one of 2015’s Most Influential Women by the Joplin Regional Business Journal.

Alumni Spring 2017

New Alumni Awards to Debut with Homecoming

The Alumni Association is expanding the number of annual awards recognizing exceptional alumni and friends of Missouri Southern.

Beginning with Homecoming 2017 – set for September 25-30 – the following awards will be presented:

The Distinguished Alumnus Award will recognize a graduate who has achieved remarkable success in their profession and/or has made outstanding contributions to their community, state or nation. Nominees must be at least 25 years from their date of graduation.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award will recognize a graduate who has achieved remarkable success in their profession and/or has made outstanding contributions to their community, state or nation. To be eligible, nominees must have graduated between 10 and 24 years ago.

The MSSU Outstanding Family Award will be given to a multi-generational family of Missouri Southern Lions. The family must have made a significant impact on the university. Only current students who are in a second or more generation of Joplin Junior College, MSSC or MSSU are able to nominate their family.

The Lion-Hearted Award will be presented to an individual who embodies the true heart and soul of Lion spirit and has made significant contributions to the institution, either through financial or voluntary assistance. Nominees do not have to be graduates of Missouri Southern.

The Spirit of Service Award will be given to an alumnus who consistently makes significant contributions to the communities in which they live through their time, actions, talents and dedication. This award does not factor in service to Missouri Southern, but rather to the communities in which the nominee lives. Nominations for those outside the Joplin area will be accepted and encouraged.

We need your help in nominating deserving MSSU Alumni for these awards! To nominate someone, please visit the “Alumni and Giving” page at or email

Alumni Spring 2017

Bringing It Home Jimmy Noriega, ’05, stages acclaimed production of ‘Women of Ciudad Juárez’ to MSSU

When Teatro Travieso presented its acclaimed production of “Women of Ciudad Juárez” in January, it marked a homecoming for director Jimmy Noriega.

While he had been involved in theater as far back as an elementary student, it was at Missouri Southern that he realized his potential as a director.

“I started out (at Missouri Southern) as an actor,” he says. “But I took a directing class and realized I had a strength. It gave me the confidence to do it and the awareness of something I was good at.”

“Women of Ciudad Juárez” gives voice to the voiceless – the countless female murder victims from Juárez, Mexico. From mothers and daughters, factory workers and prostitutes, family members and police investigators, the play speaks out against what the production notes call “a gross display of injustice.”

The original production – written by Mexican actress Cristina Michaus – was staged in monologue form as a one-woman show. It ran for more than six months and toured throughout Mexico over the next decade.

“I directed it originally in Spanish in 2011,” says Noriega. “With the theater company I founded, Teatro Travieso (Troublemaker Theatre), I debuted the English version in 2014.”

When adapting it into English, Noriega fleshed the work out to feature four actresses.

“Each actress plays two or three characters,” he says. “I worked to connect the dots between which roles they play. I had the option the first time of using professional actresses, but I wanted to use women young enough for them to relate to the audience.”

Women of Ciudad Juarez

Since the English version’s debut, the play has been performed 28 times in the U.S., Canada and Belgium, including shows at Dartmouth College, Yale University and Cornell University. In 2015, Teatro Travieso received an award for Making Theatre an Important Catalyst for Sociopolitical Change during the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.

“The performance at Southern started our fourth year of the tour,” says Noriega. “I never imagined it would be such a long-term production.”

In addition to serving as director of the theater company, Noriega serves as an associate professor of theater at the College of Wooster in Ohio. He received his Ph.D. in theater arts in 2011 from Cornell University.

The level of success he has found with the production comes as little surprise to his former professors, says Anne Jaros – associate professor of theater at Missouri Southern and current chair of the department.

“Jimmy was an outstanding student, and we knew he was going to do something wonderful,” she says. “He was always driven to success. “He was very good at finding a way to do the things he wanted to get done. We always trusted him to do a good job, and he never disappointed. He was the kind of student every teacher wants to have in class.”

Noriega says he was excited to return to Southern, and for the opportunity to meet with current theater students to talk about his experiences.

“Southern is where I started learning about direction,” he says. “The last production I directed there would have been in 2005. It was kind of exciting to bring my most successful show to the place where I started.”

Alumni School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Why I Give

Tom Ward was always a student at heart.

“He went to law school and, prior to that, he was a dentist,” says Dr. Carolyn Prater of her late husband. “After law school, he decided to go to medical school. Tom was a lifelong student … being a student, being a teacher was his thing.”

Prater – a pediatrician at ACCESS Family Care – and her husband moved to Joplin in 1994. He joined the radiology department at what was then St. John’s Regional Medical Center. While there, he worked closely with the Radiology Department at Missouri Southern to help train students.


At that point in his life, he was in a wheelchair due to a degenerative spinal cord issue. But his condition did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for teaching students about the profession.

“He was a man who could really set his mind to something,” says Prater. “He taught a lot of students and was very well respected in this area.”

When Tom passed away in June 2015, Prater established a patron’s scholarship in his name. The Dr. Thomas L. Ward Memorial Scholarship is awarded to two students each year – one to a firstyear radiology student, and another to a second-year.

Prater said she was excited to be able to meet with two of the most recent recipients during a dinner for university donors.

“They were both really wonderful and I got to tell them about Tom,” she said. “They were exactly the kinds of students he would really like – he loved the kids who were energized and excited about the program.”

Donor-funded scholarships at MSSU come in all shapes and sizes. To discuss scholarship opportunities through the MSSU Foundation, please call 417-625-9615.

Alumni Spring 2017