Apr 5, 2007    #051
Contact: Noemi Rojas, UMKC Public Relations
(816) 235-1520

UMKC honors alumnus for beating the odds

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) has selected Obie Austin, M.S.N., to receive the 2006 Defying the Odds award during a program and dinner at 5:30 p.m. April 19, 2007 in the Swinney Recreation Center, 5030 Holmes, on the UMKC campus.

Austin’s inspirational story of overcoming life’s obstacles will be highlighted on a huge screen before an anticipated crowd of 700, including his family and friends, faculty, staff and alumni from the university’s 12 academic units.

Every year, five alumni are selected to receive distinguished university-wide awards. The Defying the Odds award recognizes an alumnus who has achieved professional and personal success despite tremendous obstacles. The alumnus must have demonstrated outstanding loyalty to UMKC and rendered service to the community.

A 1999 graduate of the UMKC School of Nursing, Austin faced down financial hardship and overcame difficult life of circumstances that often come with growing up in the urban core.

Despite never knowing his biological father, witnessing his mother struggle with a brain tumor, and seeing his once beautiful inner-city Kansas City home become a drug house — Austin managed to develop a strong work ethic, find the courage to attend college, and persevere through seven-and-a-half years of undergraduate work.

“My bachelor’s degree was a long struggle and kind of a life-changing event, kind of a redefining of myself, and figuring out that I had a little more inside of me than I thought,” Austin said. “It felt really good. It was the moment I realized, if I want to do it, all I have to do is go for it and I can achieve it.”

Today, Austin holds a Masters of Science in Nursing from the UMKC School of Nursing, where he now is a clinical instructor at the UMKC School of Nursing. The Naval critical care nurse also works part-time at the UMKC Student Health and Wellness Clinic and part-time at Rediscover Rehabilitation Services. He volunteers at the KC Free Health Clinic.

Austin loves caring for the inner city’s underserved population.

“Minority male role models are hard to come by in our neighborhood, and to know that somehow I can somehow fill that role – whether it’s talking to children or working and living a normal productive life – I think that goes a long way,” Austin said.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.


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