Miller to Lead Professional Career Escalators Program

Signature new program provides unique system of personalized support to help students graduate career-ready

Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, an experienced educational professional with an extensive background in career development, has been named director of the Professional Career Escalators program, the university’s signature new program providing a unique system of personalized support and services to propel students from their educational aspirations to good-paying careers.

The Career Escalators program, a centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan, will launch in Fall Semester 2022.

Miller comes to UMKC from Kauffman Scholars, where she has served as Career Services Manager for the last four years. She is past president of the Missouri Career Development Association, current president of the Kansas Association of Colleges and Employers and co-founder of Young Professionals of Color-Kansas City. She holds degrees from UMKC and Kansas State University, and has served on the UMKC School of Education Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Her role at Kauffman Scholars has included planning and implementing comprehensive career development experiences for college students, while developing ongoing relationships with Kansas City-area employers to facilitate connections with students.

“Mako comes to this position with a strong network of connections in the Kansas City community,” said Kristi Holsinger, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student success. “Her innovative thinking and enthusiasm will allow her to be a strategic, collaborative leader and a strong contributor to UMKC’s Culture of Care.

The escalators will be open to all admitted students, but the program is built on research and best practice that support UMKC goals to increase retention and graduation rates of underrepresented, first-generation and Pell-eligible students. At Kauffman Scholars, Miller created Roundtable Represent, a program that intentionally recruits professionals of color to connect and network with students to discuss issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and build relationships that allow students to see people who look like them in professional settings.

The initiative supports two key missions of the university: student success and community engagement. It will include applied learning experiences in the community, mentorship, support for admission to advanced professional education, and leadership training.  Initial professional focus areas for the escalators, based on workforce need and personal career opportunity, include healthcare, education, engineering/business and law/justice. Others will be added in the future in response to workforce demand trends.

The program components are shaped by empirical evidence on the most effective contributors to student success in higher education. Each escalator will be created in alignment with the academic discipline and provide meaningful and ongoing experiences in the following areas:

  • Career Discovery, Guidance & Development
  • Mentoring and Assessment with Student Support Referrals
  • Applied Learning Experience (such as internship, job shadowing, service learning)
  • Professional Access Preparation (such as test prep, personal statement, interviews, letters of recommendation, timelines)
  • Leadership Development Credential (focusing on inclusive excellence, attaining durable/essential skills)
Published: Jun 14, 2021

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