Columns, Opinion

Having the right tools to be successful

By Rick Smetana/For the Muleskinner

I am a pretty competitive person. I want to succeed at everything I do whether it be professionally, educationally (I just started my MBA) or in my hobbies. In my mind, success can be achieved by identifying goals, dedication, hard work and having access to the right tools to obtain those goals. My friend and I have a competition BBQ team, and we have invested heavily in the latest gadgets to have technology help us create winning food. Another passion is golf, and I am always on the hunt for the best new club that will unlock my game. I am very lucky that UCM has the Missouri Innovation Campus building. The MIC building and the programs hosted here are the innovative and technologically advanced — and also very cool — tools that allow me to be successful.

This building, which opened in 2017, provides a home for UCM programs that change the lives of students at various stages within their lives. The innovative aspects and the technology incorporated into the MIC create an incredible environment, making it easy for all of us to do our jobs. Whether it is my job of supporting the university’s mission or the university’s role in educating students and preparing them for future success — the building is a key component.

The MIC program itself — a partnership with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and Metropolitan Community College — has been recognized nationally for reshaping education. This program, like others operating out of this building, is designed to reduce costs for students, accelerate the time it takes to earn a college degree and connect businesses to a trained workforce. I tell people all the time that I wish I had the opportunity to have been in the MIC program when I was in high school.

The unique aspects of the MIC building help us serve both traditional and non-traditional students. They come to our remarkable building to change their lives for the better, and our staff and facility, as well as our metro-area location, helps us do just that.  Within the metro area, there are many people who have some college but no degree, and we are proud to provide many of these adults with an affordable and attainable way to advance.

We partner with a number of local organizations and employers to provide additional pathways for adult learners. These partnerships include KC Rising, a metro-area coalition focusing on job growth and economic development; MoExcels, a statewide initiative designed to target workforce needs; and KC Degrees/KC Scholars, a regional scholarship program targeting low- and modest-income students. We work with these and other organizations to provide adults with a chance at a better life. Through these programs, our students learn specific skills that make them attractive to local employers.

Coming to work each day at our Lee’s Summit campus is an awesome experience and something I don’t take for granted. While the building itself is remarkable, our leadership and the people who work at the MIC building truly care about our students and make coming to work each day special. Andrea, Laura, Nathan, and the rest of the UCM Lee’s Summit team make sure our students have the right tools to succeed.

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