More athletes are competing on Missouri Southern teams this fall thanks to a new recruitment effort by the Athletics Department and the Office of Admissions. This year’s total number of Missouri Southern football players is 141, compared to 101 last year.
“Having more guys out there helps with many things,” said MSSU Head Football Coach Denver Johnson. “Most of these players will redshirt this fall. Some will play, but just having the numbers speeds up practice and provides depth not only for the varsity squad but also for the scout team.”
A total of 37 total soccer players were on the roster this season, compared to just 18 the year before. “My reasoning for having a larger roster is two-fold,” said MSSU Head Soccer Coach Chris McNaughton. “Injuries occur in college athletics and having a larger roster will allow us to absorb any injuries we incur and continue training and competing.”
Athletics is routinely the “front porch” for many colleges, said Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman. “It’s no different here and one of our obligations to the university is to drive and grow enrollment,” he said.
“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a “heart full of grace” as the only requirement to serve others. Volunteer service is truly a calling. Over the next few pages, you’ll meet three Missouri Southern students who have answered that call. Beyond the expectations of the classroom, they’ve found ways to give their time in service to others. From working with children to delivering meals or sharing our region’s history … through smiles, hugs and tears … they know firsthand the difference a volunteer can make in someone’s life.
Jenson Maydew: ‘Fight Like Andrew’
“Letting kids with cancer be kids again.”
That’s the motto for Camp Quality – a program serving hundreds of children with cancer in 11 different states. And it’s a motto that Jenson Maydew had taken to heart before she even began volunteering there.
“During my senior year of high school, my best friend’s little brother passed away from cancer at age nine,” she says. “His name was Andrew, and he was in and out of hospitals. I spent a lot of time talking to him.”
It was during this time that she turned to Google to see how her lifelong love of art could be used to help children in Andrew’s situation. Through art therapy, Maydew says she hopes to work with children to help them express their emotions through words and pictures, and also help them through their hospital stay.
Today, Maydew – who plays basketball and throws shot put on the track and field team – sports a tattoo of the letters FLA on her bicep, for “Fight Like Andrew.” The junior art therapy major is a volunteer for Camp Quality locations in Kansas City and Neosho.
“I had just graduated from high school and I was here to help with basketball camp for kids before the start of my freshman year,” she said. “A little girl at the camp became super attached to me and asked me questions about what I wanted to do.
“I told her I wanted to work with kids with cancer, and she told me her mom works at Camp Quality.”
At Camp Quality, volunteer companions are paired up with campers to spend one-on-one time with them throughout the program. Activities include swimming, hiking, fishing and taking a ride on a zip line. While the camps are held in the summer, there are also reunions and family events that take place year round.
“At the camp in Kansas City, siblings can come too,” says Maydew. “Talking to them about it, it helped me understand where kids come from in these situations. She told me she sometimes didn’t know where she was going to sleep at night … at her grandparents’ house or with her neighbors … because her parents were always at the hospital. Cancer affects people in different ways.”
During her first year with Camp Quality, Maydew made the Top 5 list for “Best Companion,” selected from among hundreds of other volunteers in the U.S. Volunteering has also kept her close to her best friend, Dani – Andrew’s older sister. “She volunteers at the camp with me every year … we go through the hard emotions together.”
Josh Hadley: ‘It’s what I’m supposed to do’
Josh Hadley remembers how it felt as a youth playing football, when older athletes would come to work with him and other young teammates.
“It had a big impact on me,” he says. “It always inspired me to keep playing. Having those guys who were where I wanted to be come and show love, it made me want to keep playing and do better.”
Hadley, a senior public relations manager originally from Northern California, plays running back for the Lions. He hasn’t forgotten the positive impact those volunteers made on him and is paying it forward. He volunteers his time with the Joplin Junior Eagles, helping the fifth-grade boys learn the basics of game.
“I come in and show the kids drills to help them develop their skills, and the right way to do the fundamentals,” says Hadley. “It’s everything from the basics of football to ball security, how to redirect and how to catch a ball.”
Hadley has developed good relationships with the kids he has worked with.
“I see them around town or at church and they’ll run up to me,” he says. “It’s really cool.”
But service doesn’t stop once he’s off the field. Hadley has worked with the United Way for the Play 60 program – encouraging kids to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. He’s volunteered at food banks, delivering meals to those in need. And last spring, he traveled to Denver, Colo., with a group from College Heights Christian Church to work on a variety of community service projects, from picking up trash to building shelters.
His view of the importance of volunteer service is a simple one: It’s a calling. “I’m not doing anyone a favor (by volunteering),” says Hadley. “It’s what I’m called to do … leaders serve. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Ashley Burns: ‘Volunteering is a way of life’
Ashley Burns, a junior biology major from Granby, “knows” volunteering.
Some of her earliest efforts took place after her family moved to the Granby area from California when she was 9 years old.
“We visited the George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond and thought it was beautiful,” she remembers. “My dad and I went there every Sunday, primarily doing trail and stream maintenance and composting with watercress.”
She says her father and mother, Jerry Burns and Jennifer Ames, have been her greatest inspirations.
“They’ve made it not something I have to do but something I want to do,” she says.
She spoke to groups that came to the monument about Dr. Carver’s development of milk and other products out of peanuts.
“That gave me experience speaking to groups and helped get me out of my shell,” she says.
In 2014, Burns competed with volunteers from over 400 national parks to win the national George B. Hartzog Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award. It was the first time anyone from the park had received that recognition. The prize included a trip to Washington, D.C.
As a senior at East Newton High School, she was the winner of a $5,000 Golden Lion Award scholarship at Missouri Southern for her work there.
She volunteered at the Carver National Monument until the age of 18.
“Then I got an opportunity to be hired as a paid employee for National Park Service and I took it,” the effervescent 20-year-old says with a smile.
Burns, an Honors Program and Project Stay student at Missouri Southern, is a member of the Campus Activities Board, the Lion Ambassadors and Southern Ambassadors. As a Southern Ambassador, she conducts tours of the Missouri Southern campus for potential students and parents.
“Volunteering is a way of life and important to me,” she says. “I love it. Just about wherever I go I find a way to volunteer. Because of the impact it has had on me, I want to pass it on.”
Burns says she would like to pursue a career in the National Park Service, ultimately becoming a park superintendent or holding an even higher position in the Interior Department.
“I encourage people to volunteer, no matter what,” she says. “If you love animals, volunteer at an animal shelter. If you want to help people, work in a soup kitchen. If you love the outdoors, help clean up a park. It could really change the course of your life, like it did mine.”
The bouncing melody of Me Like Bees’ “Tundraland” emanates from the speakers in the KXMS studio, the song portion of an hour-long block devoted to local talent.
For those accustomed to hearing only classical music played during the daytime, the upbeat number from the Joplin based indie rock band might come as a surprise when tuning in. But it’s the result of an effort to have students be more involved in the day-to-day operation of the station, and to expand the “fine arts” referred to in 88.7 FM’s longstanding tagline – “Fine Arts Radio International.”
“KXMS has been well known as a classical station,” says junior communications major Justin Eves. “Classical music is definitely ‘fine arts,’ but ‘fine arts’ doesn’t mean just classical. It’s any kind of genre.”
Between 3 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, student produced programming offers a broad range of music, including modern rock, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic and tracks from the local music scene. Eves, who hosts Monday evening’s “Hour in the ‘80s” show as East Bay J, likes to offer a mix of favorites and “outlandish” international tracks audiences may not be familiar with.
Kirsten Blaser, senior mass communications major and the station’s student coordinator, says she enjoyed getting hands-on experience, but was a proponent of making the station a student-run affair.
“We wanted students to be heard on weekdays,” she says. “It draws more students to the practicum and the Communication Department in general. They get to pick what genre they want to feature on their show and what the format will be.”
Students learn how to use the digital audio delivery system, how to record a program and format a playlist.
“Our department strives to give students a real-world, on-the-job experience,” says Kisa Clark, coordinator of the student practicum. “Now they’re really getting it.”
“In the daytime, we still offer classical music for our pretty big base of listeners. But we also want to attract new listeners who might be interested in new programming.”
Daytime classical music programming comes courtesy of WCPE, a 24-hour classical station based in North Carolina. Weekends offer a mix of Missouri Southern sports coverage, opera and blues. It’s a mix of old and new that is building on the station’s already loyal audience.
“We seem to be getting a lot of positive feedback,” says Eves. “It’s really exciting.”
That sound you’re hearing? That’s the roar of more than 6,200 Lions.
Efforts to grow the number of students at Missouri Southern resulted in an unprecedented 7.7-percent increase in students for the Fall 2016 semester – and a historic high enrollment for the university.
Total university enrollment for the semester reached 6,229. The previous high, set in 1990, was 6,012. The record enrollment follows the growth seen in the Fall 2015 semester.
Missouri Southern students are enrolled in 72,809 credit hours, up 6.9 percent from last year’s 68,101. The number of new freshmen choosing to come to MSSU grew from 925 in 2015 to 1,063 this year – an increase of 14.9 percent.
“It’s all part of a plan put into place a few years ago that is now coming to fruition,” said Derek Skaggs, dean of admissions. “We’ve stepped up our admission recruitment and marketing efforts, as well as our international and athletics recruiting.”
Significant factors cited in the university’s enrollment growth include the expansion of the Lion Pride Tuition area; the development of new graduate programs; an increase in the number of dual-credit students from area high schools; changes to the university’s scholarship programs; new international recruitment efforts; and the development of the Yours to Lose Advanced Medical School Acceptance Program.
“Having the deans and department heads add and expand sections to meet course demand was also huge,” said Skaggs. “This was intentional – everyone has been working together to grow enrollment and serve our students.”
Dr. Alan Marble, president of Missouri Southern, said the numbers are reflective of the university’s work to broaden its reach and provide more opportunities for students.
“Enrollment growth like this comes from the collective efforts of our faculty and staff,” he said. “It shows what we’ve known for a long time – that Missouri Southern is a destination of choice for students taking the next big step in their academic and professional development.”