Honors College Recognizes Class of 2016

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Honors College recognized the graduating class of 2016 at the annual Honors College Banquet on April 13.

The Honors College acknowledged twenty-two seniors graduating with University Honors, seven of which were awarded the highest distinction UMKC offers as Honors Scholars. Each graduating senior received a Recognition of Achievement and an Honors College medallion. Those graduating as Honors Scholars also received a blue cord to be worn at commencement.


Graduates at a Glance

Ida Ayalew
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Amanda Cook
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Chloe David
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Terrance Hughes
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Derick Letman
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Jordan Miles
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Sarah Park
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Molly Penrod
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Stevi Short
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Stephen Tran
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Joseph Young
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Kelly Bisges
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Haley Crane
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Hannah Goebel
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Sydney Harvey
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Hannah Huhman
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Abigail Menke
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Safa Nawazish
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Cole Payne
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Ashlynd Ritzinger
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Clara Stahl
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Layney Viets
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Honors College Student Assistant Position: Now open to all students who have a work-study award for fall semester 2016

The UMKC Honors College is accepting applications for the Honors College Student Assistant position. The Student Assistant will be expected to work 15-28 hours a week in the office. The Student Assistant will report to the Executive Assistant of the Honors College.

Duties will be assigned by the supervisor. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintain student records for the Honors College
  • Assist with maintaining databases for the Honors College
  • Assist with processing online applications
  • Assist with preparing materials for recruiting events and admissions
  • Staff an Honors College informational table at recruiting events
  • Manage the Honors College Email account
  • Maintain the Honors College Website
  • Maintain the Honors College Facebook account and assist with other social media
  • Send announcements via the Honors College List serve
  • Assist with maintaining the Honors College Bulletin Board in Haag Hall
  • Serve as editor of the Honors College Weekly e-Newsletter
  • Build surveys using Qualtrics for the Honors College
  • Assist with special projects, including the Honors College Induction Ceremony, Cherry Hall Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Lucerna Symposium, and the Honors College Banquet
  • Provide general administrative support – answer phones, greet customers, filing, photocopying, shipping, etc.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • The Student Assistant must be an undergraduate student at UMKC with effective listening, writing, editing, proofreading, and oral communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Active member in good standing of the UMKC Honors College
  • Professional attitude
  • Flexibility and adaptability to new assignments and situations
  • Ability to multi-task and be highly productive in a fast-paced work environment
  • Punctuality and reliability
  • Attention to detail
  • Superior writing, editing, and proofreading ability
  • Excellent interpersonal and verbal skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Ability to meet critical deadlines
  • Ability to effectively handle constructive criticism
  • Ability to work well in a team and independently with minimal supervision
  • Ability to communicate clearly and courteously with UMKC faculty, staff, students, parents, vendors, and community partners
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and apply sensitivity and sound judgement to all situations
  • Intermediate or advanced proficiency with all Microsoft Office Programs, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher
  • Intermediate or advanced proficiency with Outlook, Word Press, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

This is a part-time student assistant position, which requires 15-28 hours a week in the Honors College Office, Monday through Friday.

Hourly pay rate: $10.50/hour

Apply online at https://umkc.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_29LM7G4nzSyfsIB, and send a resume (in PDF or Microsoft Word format) to honors@umkc.edu.

Equal Employment Opportunity:

UMKC is an equal access, equal opportunity, affirmative action employer that is fully committed to achieving a diverse faculty and staff. The university will recruit and employ qualified personnel and will provide equal opportunities during employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. For more information on Equal Employment Opportunity, call the Vice Chancellor – Human Resources at 816-235-1621.

To request ADA accommodations, please call the Director of Affirmative Action at 816-235-1323.


To read more about Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) please use the following links:

EEO is the Law English Version
EEO is the Law Spanish Version
EEO is the Law Chinese Version

Honors College Students Receive Research Awards

Three Honors College students were presented with awards at the 16th Annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research & Creative Scholarship on Thursday, April 21.

Abigail Brown was awarded first place in the Social Justice Scholars category for her presentation, “Childhood Obesity: An Environmental Divide”.

Madeline Lewis was awarded fourth place in the same category for her presentation, “Racial Diversity in Honors Colleges”.

Abigail Menke received the Biological and Health Sciences distinction for her presentation, “Loss of Heterozygosity in Aging Yeast Colonies”, which she completed with peer Justin Minor.

Click here to view all awards and distinctions and to learn more about the Symposium of Undergraduate Research & Creative Scholarship.

Kansas City High School Girls Advocated Civil Rights 100 Years Ago

UMKC professor to sign book ‘Praising Girls: The Rhetoric of Young Women, 1895-1930’

Praising Girls CoverKANSAS CITY, MO – At the turn of the 20th century, ordinary Kansas City girls delivered extraordinary arguments for the rights of women, African Americans, and Native Americans. A new book by Henrietta Rix Wood, Ph.D., reveals how these high school students spoke out on important issues of their era. Wood, an assistant teaching professor in the Honors College at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will sign her book Praising Girls: The Rhetoric of Young Women, 1895-1930 at a reception in her honor Thursday, May 5, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Miller Nichols Library 325. Southern Illinois University Press published the book in February 2016.

Wood analyzed writing by young women of different races, classes and social statuses. Surveying school-sponsored publications of the period, she found that girls used epideictic rhetoric in newspaper editorials and articles, creative writing projects, yearbook entries and literary magazines. This type of rhetoric, typically oral, most often is employed in ceremonial situations such as speeches, sermons, and graduations. Leaders use it to motivate, blame, praise and forge solidarity. Unlike men of the time, young women had few chances to speak publicly, so they expressed their opinions in print. “The girls in my study intervened rhetorically in national and international discourses on class, race, education, immigration, racism and imperialism,” according to Wood. “They confronted the gender politics that denigrated young women and often deprived them of positions of authority.”

The book considers the published writing of girls at four Kansas City-area schools including privileged white girls at a college preparatory school, Native American girls at an off-reservation boarding school, black girls at a racially segregated public high school, and working- and middle-class girls at a large whites-only public high school. Wood examines how students educated readers about their culture and identity, and commented on historical events.

Wood also will sign a book she co-edited last year: In the Archives of Composition: Writing and Rhetoric in High Schools and Normal Schools, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2015.

“Students in the Honors College are privileged to learn from a researcher of Dr. Wood’s caliber,” says Jim McKusick, UMKC Honors College dean. “She is leading a national conversation on the use of epideictic rhetoric by marginalized groups.”

Wood earned an interdisciplinary doctorate in English and history at UMKC; a master’s degree in English from UMKC and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Her research focuses on the rhetoric and history of women in the U.S. Before beginning her graduate studies, Wood was a reporter for The Kansas City Star, and for a newspaper and city magazine in Dallas.
The Honors College is hosting Thursday’s reception. UMKC faculty, staff, students and the public are welcome to attend.

Written by Beth Hammock, UMKC Honors College Outreach Consultant

Honors College-Kauffman School Work-Study Positions Available

The Honors College is hiring four work-study positions for fall semester 2016.

Honors College-Kauffman School Work-Study Positions 

Job Description

The responsibilities of an Honors College-Kauffman School Work Study include, but are not limited to:

  • Working with operations team on supply inventory, organization of school property, and asset tracking activities
  • Assisting with planning and implementation of special events
  • Assisting with mailings
  • Preparing materials for teachers
  • Assisting with record keeping
  • General administrative tasks (i.e. photocopying, filing, shipping)
  • Designing informational displays for bulletin boards
  • Event planning and orchestration
  • Other duties and/or projects as assigned

Required Qualifications:

  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility
  • Punctuality and reliability
  • Superior writing ability
  • Excellent interpersonal and verbal skills
  • Energetic, outgoing and friendliness
  • Customer service skills with people of all ages
  • Ability to multitask and be highly productive
  • Proper telephone etiquette
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Professional attitude
  • Ability to work well with people in a team-oriented workplace setting
  • Familiarity with both Apple and Microsoft platforms

Students will need to provide their own transportation to the Kauffman School. If you are interested in one of these positions and you have a work-study award for the fall semester 2016(and are not on the award waiting list), please fill out a questionnaire and send your resume to honors@umkc.edu.

For more information on the Kauffman School, see here.

Contact the Honors College at 816.235.2182 or honors@umkc.edu if there are questions regarding these positions.

OTC and UMKC Sign Agreement to Benefit Honors Students

SPRINGFIELD, MO — Graduates of the Honors Program at Ozarks Technical Community College who transfer to the University of Missouri-Kansas City will automatically be eligible for scholarships and admission to the UMKC Honors College thanks to an articulation agreement signed today, April 21, between the two colleges.

“Many outstanding students are thinking about OTC first before pursuing a bachelor’s degree, and our Honors Program provides them a challenging curriculum in an atmosphere of scholarship,” said Todd Yerby, director of the OTC Honors Program. “UMKC is embracing our students by offering them financial and academic incentives to transfer.”

Honors students from OTC will be automatically considered for UMKC merit scholarships including the Chancellor’s Transfer Award worth $2,000 each academic year. OTC Honors students with a 3.7 grade point average or better will be automatically admitted into UMKC’s Honors College. Those with a GPA below 3.7 are still admissible to the UMKC Honors College if a letter accompanies their application from the OTC Honors program director stating that the student is in good standing with the OTC Honors program. “The UMKC Honors College is a liberal arts college within a larger research university,” said James McKusick, dean of the UMKC Honors College. “We eagerly await the arrival of OTC alumni. They will enter a close-knit community of highly motivated students working together as they prepare for a lifetime of leadership.”

The OTC Honors Program has around 50 students enrolled each academic year and it is open to current college students or incoming freshmen. Besides academic standards, students must complete an essay and provide three academic references.

This is the second articulation agreement that OTC’s Honors Program has signed with a Missouri four-year university that provides scholarship opportunities for transfers. In the fall of 2015, OTC signed an agreement with Missouri Southern State University in Joplin that provided scholarship opportunities for OTC transfer students.

Written by Laura French, OTC Coordinator of Public Information

Powering the Missouri Charter School of the Year

Above: Steffanie Long, left, and Rachel Mills are among the UMKC students and alumni working at the Kauffman School. Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communication

A student and graduate share their perspectives from working at the Kauffman School

At any other school, University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate Steffanie Long might hold the title of an English Language Arts Teacher. At the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, Long is a Sixth Grade Textual Analysis Teacher.

“Just like everything else, [the title] goes back to the mission we have here at Kauffman: to create college graduates,” Long said. “We know that the type of material that students are going to see in college will be very rigorous and challenging. We also want them to be able to think critically. I know this class is preparing them for that later on in life.”

Last November, the Kauffman School was named Missouri Charter School of the Year by the Missouri Charter Public School Association. Several UMKC students and graduates are playing an ongoing role in the school’s success.

In 2014, not only did Long graduate with a B.A. in Elementary Education, but also with a year of teaching experience from teaching internships she completed through her classes at UMKC.

“That hands-on experience was very valuable,” Long said. “Not many schools prepare teachers like that. From my freshman year to my senior year, we were always interacting with the community. We were able to build relationships with students and learn things about ourselves as teachers, about education, about students, that you won’t necessarily learn from the book.”

The UMKC School of Education enables its students to gain classroom experiences through student teaching opportunities and internships in partnership with metro schools.

“I am extremely pleased that Ms. Long feels well-equipped to teach in ways that are responsive to diverse learners and has credited her success to the UMKC School of Education’s focus on authentic classroom experiences,” said Chris Brown, interim dean of the School of Education. “These field-based experiences are designed to prepare teacher candidates to advance learning in urban environments.”

Through its after-school club program, the Kauffman School encourages hands-on learning for students as well. For eight weeks, each student learns extracurricular skills like photography, cooking and gardening from a community volunteer. It’s up to UMKC senior Rachel Mills, also the Kauffman School’s Operations Coordinator, to find the volunteers and supervise the programs.

“I’m passionate about allowing students to have opportunities outside of the classroom,” Mills said. “Not only are students interacting with different adults, but the adults also figure out how to break the students out of their shell. They do a really good job at challenging the students and teaching them those skills.”

This May, Mills will graduate with a B.A. in Urban Planning from the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, but that didn’t stop her from starting a full-time job at the Kauffman School in July of 2015. Her passion for the after-school club program stemmed from her involvement with the UMKC Honors College.

“We have a very strong partnership with the Kauffman School,” Mills said. “A couple of people from Kauffman came and spoke at the Honors College, and I grew really passionate and interested in the school. I was going to be involved in the after-school programs, but I wasn’t able to because of scheduling.”

However, after receiving a recommendation from Dr. Gayle Levy, director of the Honors College, Mills still was able to get involved in the school through a summer internship at the Kauffman operations department.

“I’m very committed to student initiative,” Levy said. “When students come in with an idea, I do what I can to help them, which normally isn’t that much. They’ve got the idea, they’ve got the energy, they have friends that they can rely on to help get it done. With Rachel, she’s organized, she’s hardworking and she comes with all the information. It was a no-brainer. I have faith in my students and they always come through.”

Long and Mills are not the only staff with a UMKC connection. The Kauffman School was founded in 2011 by alumna Hannah Lofthus (’08, Political Science and Philosophy). While at UMKC, she had interned at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and was later asked to help design the Kauffman School.

“While (Lofthus) was still a student, she worked with me and one other Honors student to create a community service partner for the Honors Program with University Academy,” Levy said. “That experience changed her life. She was Pre-Law, and the only reason she decided to pursue education policy was because of her philosophy classes and her work through University Academy.”

Levy saw the same change of heart in Mills.

“I took a couple of classes on Urban Education and that’s where I grew really passionate about urban education,” Mills said. “I started learning more about the charter systems and the public school systems. I saw the need that Kansas City has for it and wanted to be a part of that.”

The partnership between the UMKC Honors College and the Kauffman School continues today; Honors students are often club leaders, interns and teacher assistants at the school.

“I think that the Kauffman School has clearly allowed some students to realize that education is really where they want to be,” Levy said. “It’s incredibly important to have these bright, motivated recent graduates going back into the urban public education system. They’re doing important work that makes me feel like I’m doing something for our community.”

Written by Deena Essa, Honors College Student

New UMKC Honors College to Showcase Student Successes

KANSAS CITY, MO – The Honors College at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will celebrate a year of student accomplishments at a banquet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 in Pierson Auditorium in the Atterbury Student Success Center.

The university created the Honors College last July, and 29 seniors graduate with University Honors in May. Their families, professors and friends will congratulate them at the banquet. All students will be recognized for their achievements. “The students challenged themselves with additional research projects, papers and learning experiences,” said Jim McKusick, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College. “Our graduating seniors are prepared to lead in a variety of fields, from marketing to medical research.”

The Honors College grew out of the Honors Program, which offered highly motivated students classes tailored to their needs. Many Honors College students live together in a residence hall, supporting one another in their advanced studies. The students also build bonds through social activities and community service. Many take part in study abroad experiences led by Honors College faculty. “The UMKC Honors College gives our highly motivated and talented students an opportunity to deeply immerse themselves in all that our public research university has to provide,” said Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer. “This first graduating class certainly demonstrated the power of honors education.”

The banquet follows a winning weekend for UMKC at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. Honors student Elizabeth Porto won the prize for best poster in STEM research for student presenters with more than 60 credits completed.  “This is truly an impressive accomplishment, since hers was judged the best STEM poster, and one of just eight total poster awards, out of 52 college and university honors programs represented at the conference,” McKusick said.

Other student presenters at the conference to be recognized at the banquet include LeAnna Cates, Maria Gentry, Eliana Hudson and Zak Roberts. Cates and Gentry presented scientific research in the poster contest. Hudson and Roberts made oral presentations about Kansas City history. Hudson’s was entitled “A Legacy Lives on in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Jazz District.” Roberts presented research titled “Cookingham Cleans Up Kansas City: 1939-1940.”

Honors Program alumnus Justin Smith, a Kansas City attorney, will deliver the keynote address at the banquet. Smith, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2007, was recognized as one of Ingram’s “20 in Their Twenties.” Several graduating seniors plan to follow in Smith’s footsteps by attending law school. Others will continue their education working toward master’s and doctoral degrees. One will intern in PriceWaterhouseCoopers New York City office this fall.

Derick Letman, who enrolled at UMKC at age 47, will attend graduate school working toward a master’s in social work. Letman is the father of four children. One just graduated as a nurse and two are in college. When his youngest child left home, he decided it was time to go back to college. His enrollment in the Honors College happened serendipitously. Letman was working as an office assistant for Gayle Levy, Ph.D., director of the Honors College. Levy recruited Letman for the challenging course of study. “I did it and I’m really glad,” Letman said. “I had a lot of support while I was going through it. The students were very supportive. So were the faculty and staff.”

Letman’s memorable experiences in the Honors College include serving as a student faculty member for 18 months and being the editor of the honors newsletter. He also was a staff member of the Honors College journal, Lucerna. After receiving his master’s degree, Letman plans to attend law school. He wants to practice family and healthcare law. His ultimate goal is to build a long-term addiction treatment center in Kansas City.

Kansas City benefited from the community service component of the Honors College experience. Students volunteered at the Ewing Kauffman School, Kansas City Hospice, the HALO Learning Center and other nonprofit organizations.

Written by Beth Hammock, UMKC Honors College Outreach Consultant

Now Hiring Honors Ambassadors for Fall 2016

The Honors College is seeking actively involved and committed Honors College students to apply to become Honors Ambassadors. The Honors Ambassadors will be hourly paid positions. These students will work closely with Honors College faculty and staff to promote the Honors College to prospective and current students as well as the university community. The Ambassadors will also serve as peer advisors and mentors to current Honors College students by being accessible during scheduled hours in various locations on campus to answer questions and support their fellow peers academically, professionally, personally and socially.

Job Responsibilities:

• Meet with students during set office hours in specific locations
• Answer basic questions about curriculum
• Share information about college activities/student clubs and community involvement
• Provide information about Honors College and UMKC resources and offices
• Assist students in learning how to use Pathway, Connect, and DARS for academic navigation and planning
• Attend mandatory training in August and weekly meetings
• Meet with prospective scholars that visit campus (ex. eating lunch with them on campus, have them attend a class with you) to give them the one-on-one attention and student perspective
• Attend recruiting events hosted by UMKC Admissions and the Honors College
• Assist with UMKC Summer Orientation

Minimum Qualifications:

• Must be an Honors College student and have completed at least 1 semester in the Honors College.
• Must have completed 2 full semesters at UMKC.
• Excellent listening, written, and oral communication skills.
• Must be available for training in August and weekly meetings during the semester

If you are interested in applying to become an Honors Ambassador please follow this link to submit the online application by April 13. You will also be asked to submit a resume.

Honors College Open House

Spend a day exploring UMKC’s campus and the Honors College! The Honors College Open House will be held on Thursday, April 14.

Your day will include opportunities to learn about the Honors College experience, discuss your academic interests with a UMKC representative, learn about the UMKC and Honors College admission process, and hear about the latest scholarships and financial aid available to you.

You will take a tour of campus, meet with current honors students, shadow an honors course, and eat lunch in the UMKC Student Union.


  • 8:30a.m. – Check in and enjoy a continental breakfast
  • 9:00a.m. – Visit the UMKC Admissions Department and the Honors College
  • 10:00a.m. – Shadow the honors course Honors Anchor H214, “Nazi Occupied Europe.”
  • 11:30a.m. – Have lunch with honors students and honors faculty and staff
  • 1:00p.m. – Attend your academic appointment
  • 2:00p.m. – Take a campus tour

Register here to reserve your spot!