(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – The Chamber recently partnered with the office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support to create the program that pairs UCM students with mentors from the Warrensburg Young Professionals group. MAPS Coordinator Suzy Latare said students in the program will work with their mentor, network with members of the community and volunteer at at least one chamber event per semester.
Latare said the program was designed with several purposes.
“One (purpose is) to help students with professional development skills like networking and interacting at professional events, that kind of thing, getting to know professionals in the area,” Latare said. “(It was) also designed to help the university as part of its goal to continue building the relationships between the university and the community that we are in.”
She said the program welcomes applicants of any major or class standing.
“We really have it open to any major because no matter what you end up doing in life, you’re going to live in a community,” Latare said. “So it’s an opportunity to help students from any major to understand a little more about the community now and how they can make a difference in their community wherever they end up living. It’s actually just a way to help them with the networking and do it in a pretty supportive and welcoming way.”
Latare said she would like to have 10 students involved in the program by March so they would have enough time to volunteer at an event in the spring.
“Even if students don’t plan to live here in Warrensburg or Johnson County, you never know what those connections can bring you, and if students only stay on campus or only stay in their student organizations and don’t start building their professional network, it’s going to be harder,” Latare said. “Some students may already have great connections and they know where they’re going and that’s great, but this is an opportunity for folks who maybe don’t have those opportunities, who maybe don’t have a background in lots of involvement and so this is a great way for those students to be able to do that in a really welcoming environment.”
Latare, who used to work at the Chamber as the visitor center coordinator and later the membership and communication coordinator, said the idea for the program has existed at the Chamber for a long time but remained dormant.
“Since I worked there before and now I’m working here (at UCM) it just made it a lot easier to get it going because there was a person on campus that was a good contact,” Latare said.
Amanda Mankin, member relations coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, worked with Latare to help create the program. They started six months ago.
“Obviously, we’re in the business of promoting our community and building our community, and we know that a lot of the business owners are now much younger, they’re learning their things in college and they’re becoming business owners a lot earlier in life than they used to,” Makin said. “So we’re really excited about building the relationships with the students of UCM and getting them connected with resources in Warrensburg and the surrounding area.”
Students who are interested in the program can apply online at ucmo.edu/MAPS. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in community involvement, have a recommendation from a UCM faculty or staff member or a local business person, attend a student membership orientation and volunteer for at least one Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce event per semester. For more information, contact Suzy Latare at firstname.lastname@example.org.