May

  • Alumni U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids and Nancy Mays Collaborate on Children’s Book

    ‘Sharice’s Big Voice’ tells the tale of a non-traditional student
    As Nancy Mays (MFA ’17) volunteered for U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’s (BBA ’07) campaign, Davids mentioned that she had always wanted to write a children’s book. “She wasn’t thinking about herself,” Mays says. “She had a vision for a series of books that would introduce kids to civic responsibility with stories of how to do your part. But Sharice has such a great personal story. I thought we should start there.” While Mays knew a lot about Davids’s life growing up with a single mother, she was interested in what she was like as a child. She interviewed Crystal Herriage (BA ’17), Davids’s mother, and went through old pictures with her for background information. With both women’s stories in hand, Mays, who is a professional writer and writing instructor, began to develop the narrative arc of the book. “It was different writing a children’s book,” she says. “You really have to scale back your language, and that was more challenging than I thought it would be. You have fewer number of words on a page, and have to consider the type of words. But you still need to develop the voice, include all the information that is important to the editors and be true to the person’s story. It was a fun challenge.” “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Mays and Davids, who is Native American and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, also agreed it was important to find an indigenous artist to create the illustrations. “We really wanted the illustrations in ‘Sharice’s Big Voice; A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman’ to capture the energy and vibrancy of Sharice’s childhood and Joshua [Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley] has really done that,” Mays says. “He was open to the collaborative process. There’s an illustration where Sharice is going to start campaigning an,d he drew it with her at the front of a group of people. Sharice asked him to redraw it. She said, ‘That’s not my style of leadership.’ And it made sense to him. He drew it again with her in the middle of the group.” Similarly, the first sentence of the book mentions Davids’s mother, who raised Davids on her own. It’s accompanied by an illustration of the two of them together on election night surrounded by other people. “When I received my first copy of the book, I showed it to my mom,” Davids says. “She knew what stories would be in the book, but when she opened it to the first page she said, ‘Oh! I’m in here.’ And it was interesting because the story of my life is so informed by the type of person she is – her supportive nature, her big heart and her fortitude. She’s is both the toughest and most kind and gentle person I know. It didn’t cross my mind to have it play out any other way.” Herriage said it felt special that her daughter would include her in the book. “Children see certain memories with different eyes than adults,” she says. “When she showed my promotion ceremony to Sergeant First Class in the Army in the book, I was so happy that we both saw it as a special family moment years later.” Herriage thinks Davids revealing that she was a “chatterbox” as a child, who learned to listen as well as talk, may be helpful for her readers.   Nancy Mays “A lot of children will see themselves, and that they can be happy with their own traits, which others may not find as endearing at the time,” Herriage says.  Beyond the strength of Davids’s relationship with her mother, one of the elements of her story that Mays thought was essential to the book was dichotomy of skills that make children successful in school, and skills that make people successful in life. “Sharice is very friendly and really loves people,” Mays says. “But when she was a kid, that meant she would get in trouble for talking in school.” Mays and Davids thought children would be able to relate to the challenge of sitting still and being quiet. “Another thing we loved about her story is that it took her a long time to finish her undergraduate degree from UMKC, but she did it,” Mays says. Davids worked her way through school as a manager of a fast-food restaurant where her mother also worked. “Sharice and I were both first generation students,” Mays says. “People don’t always realize that this is a very different experience. She and I connected over that.” Herriage did graduate from UMKC in 2017, 10 years after her daughter graduated. “Now Sharice refers to herself as a former first-generation college graduate,” Mays says with a laugh. “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Both Mays and Davids agreed that the book needed to end with the story of election night. “This story isn’t about being elected to Congress,” Mays says. “That was Sharice’s dream. We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script. It’s much more a message of, ‘I’m going to show you how I got to where I am, and maybe that will help you figure out where you’re going – no matter what it is you want to do.’” Rep. Sharice Davids Davids recognizes that it matters for children to see diversity in the characters in their books. “I wasn’t conscious as a child that there were no characters in books that looked like me, but as an adult I learned that only 1% of characters in books that are native or indigenous people,” she says. “I think that books like “Sharice’s Big Voice” featuring these diverse characters is important. But I also think it’s interesting that we call it ‘diversity.’ Because it’s not uncommon to be raised by a single mom, or to be an Army brat, or to work while you’re in school.” Davids says she hopes that someone reading her book – a child or adult - will see that the most important thing for people to do is recognize they can try lots of different things. “A child might read this and say, ‘I want to work with animals,’ or ‘I want to learn magic tricks.’ I wanted to show that you can try lots of different things and that's okay, because all of us have a different path.” Jun 01, 2021

  • Confronting Our Past (and Present) in Holocaust Exhibit at Union Station

    Flatland interviews Andrew Bergerson, UMKC history professor, about exhibition
    One of the people who will be part of the related speakers’ series with the exhibit, Andrew Bergerson, who teaches history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, emphasized that very point when we talked about the coming exhibit recently. Read more. May 30, 2021

  • New Home For Artists Opens In Former Police Building On Kansas City’s East Side

    UMKC Gallery of Art director is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists...
    Artist Davin Watne has taught classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City since 2002, and he also runs the UMKC Gallery of Art. He’s collaborated with Paul Migliazzo on several art studio projects, including Agnes Arts — where he’s already moved into a studio. He is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists to read books or look through magazines. Read more. May 29, 2021

  • New Student President Values Connection and Opportunity

    Tim Nguyen finds inspiration in faculty and fellow students alike
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Tim Nguyen Hometown: Lee’s Summit, MO High School: Lee’s Summit West High School Academic program: Biology B.S (Pre-Dental) and Chemistry B.A Anticipated graduation year: May 2022  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because it became my home away from home. The people I have met at UMKC and in Kansas City are some of the most impactful individuals who have helped me achieve my academic and professional endeavors. Why did you choose your field of study? I chose to study and work towards a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry to prepare me for dental school with a business minor. What are the benefits of the program? One benefit of the program is that everybody knows everybody else as a biology and/or chemistry major. You are able to form a close community with others. There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC. How has your college program inspired you? My college program has inspired me to learn from faculty, advisors and upperclassmen who are wiser, smarter and more hard working than me so I can continue to grow. I see them as mentors and role models and I want to embrace and embody their good qualities. "There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC." Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I have learned I can do anything, but I cannot do everything. Motivation comes and goes sometimes, but passion lasts forever. I’ve learned to grow comfortable in the uncomfortable. My mentality is to live life giving 110% day in and day out. Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? No, my parents were born in Vietnam, but had some college here in America. My mom went to a small college and my dad had some community college and then transferred. I am the first in my family and extended family to be born in the United States and to go to college. I have nothing but respect for my parents as they left Vietnam by boat to come to America, escaping the Communists there. I want to make the most of my life here as I would not have the life and opportunities here if my parents never risked their lives leaving Vietnam. Who do you admire most at UMKC? I met Joseph Allen during Biology Bootcamp my freshman year and have never heard anything negative said about him during my time at UMKC. He is approachable - a role model - and I view him as a one of many mentors. His humility and his presence radiate with others. He was an individual that everybody knew, and he never had to introduce himself in a room. "I seize opportunities that I can learn from." What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? “Be on time and ready to play.” What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? This fall semester I’ll serve as president for the UMKC Student Government Association. I will be an assistant coordinator for Academic Support and Mentoring Supplemental Instruction in the fall as well as leading the Biology Honors Discussion Group, which I’ve led for the past two years. I’ve led Biology 108 with Dr. Benevides for three semesters, general chemistry my second semester of college, Organic Chemistry as a TA for Dr. Kilway this past fall and spring semester. I will be working with Residential Life, and I also enjoyed putting in time with intramurals, such as soccer and volleyball when I started college at UMKC.   Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? The UMKC Trustees’ Scholarship has given me the blessing to expose myself to all the opportunities UMKC has to offer and the networking connections of individuals in the community wanting to see me succeed. Receiving this monetary scholarship has tremendously reduced the financial burden for my family, giving me peace of mind. It will allow me to continue to pursue my professional and academic aspirations, and I am truly grateful. This generous financial support has given me more time to really serve students at UMKC through being able to be as involved I can. “During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” Have you had an internship/job shadow? What did you learn during your internship?  After my freshman year I was a Bluford Scholar in the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute (BHLI.)  After my sophomore year, I spent a week with a program piloted by BHLI and partnered with the Stowers Institute right across from UMKC. During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” This summer, I will be doing Phase 2 of the program. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take lessons which will prepare me to embrace all the setbacks that I may encounter and obstacles I must confront. I truly feel that UMKC has given me the culture and energy to give 110% in every task in front of me. I want to maximize what I’m given to be a difference maker, a catalyst for change and someone for my community, not just in it for what my professional career may have in store for me. What is one word that best describes you and why? Intentional. I seize opportunities that I can learn from. These invaluable opportunities may be labor-intensive, hard, rare and sometimes definitely not easy. However, all of them are worth it. I love to listen to others and be open minded so I can lead better and become better. Some of the best ideas have come from listening to other students’ voices that helped me make an idea reality. May 27, 2021

  • After a School Year During the Pandemic, It's Graduation Season

    Provost Jenny Lundgren talks about 2021 commencement
    During a third of the radio hour (beginning at 6 minutes 15 seconds), UMKC Provost and Professor Jenny Lundgren discusses the pandemic, how the campus operated and in-person commencement at Kauffman Stadium. Hear the recording. May 27, 2021

  • Critical Race Theory Roils Kansas And Missouri Politics. Here’s What It Is And Is Not

    Kansas City Star taps UMKC English professor who studies Black literacy
    Antonio Byrd, an English professor at UMKC who studies Black literacy, described critical race theory as a way to illuminate the role of racism in a society that doesn’t tend to think racism is a major problem. By considering the impact of racism, Byrd said, steps can be taken to fix it. Read the article in the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 26, 2021

  • Park Hill Senior Achieves Her Dream Through KC Scholars Program

    Adriana Gonzalez will attend UMKC
    KC Scholars 2021 award winner, Adriana Gonzalez, Park Hill High School, Parkville, plans on attending UMKC, and first learned of being awarded the scholarship when she opened her email and read the letter informing her of her win. Read the article. May 26, 2021

  • 2021 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Awards Announced

    Annual pitch competition provides critical startup funding and experience
    The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management has selected winners in the annual Venture Creation Challenge pitch competition. “Each year we are amazed and invigorated by the energy and innovation of the entrepreneurs who are a part of the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge,” said Jeffrey S. Hornsby, executive director of the Regnier Institute. “In both the private and the nonprofit sectors, these leaders are changing the way we do business, support communities and create opportunities. We are grateful for their passion and the volunteers who take on the task of judging these outstanding business plans.” The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family. During the competition, mentors, advisors and community partners volunteer to serve as judges throughout the competition. “The real benefit of the competition – beyond the monetary support – is the wealth of feedback that participants receive from our volunteers,” said Bob Regnier, naming benefactor and founder, executive chairman and CEO of the Bank of Blue Valley. “Those experienced perspectives can be invaluable to the success of these emerging ventures.” Innovation Awards Splitsy, $15,000 Splitsy is a patent-pending mobile application that allows peers to automatically split payments for shared bills. Woodie Goodies, $10,000 Woodie Goodies buys used books in bulk from major thrift-store chain warehouses and resells to retailers. All children's books are donated to low-income schools. Relay Trade Solutions E-Scholars, $5,000 Relay Trade Solutions connects shippers, carriers, origins and destinations for seamless order to delivery, which saves up to 50% on back office costs and streamlines payment. Honorable Mention Awards Outstanding High School Entrepreneur, $2,000 Freescholars.com freescholars.com is a marketplace that connects businesses, nonprofits and academics with high-achieving high school students for various services, which allows student to explore career interests, acquire real-world experience and enrich their college applications. Outstanding Undergraduate Venture, $2,000 Vamose -  Iowa State University The patent-pending Vamose Gym Bag attaches to a backpack to enable students to avoid carrying an extra bag with them throughout the day. Oustanding Creative Enterprise, $2,000 KeySpark - UMKC KeySpark is a collaborative learning community of 7th-12th grade saxophonists that offers online music classes taught by experts in the field, an extensive resource library and a forum for students in areas where private instructors and musical opportunities are limited. Outstanding Social Venture, $2,000 Cultura En Tus Manos - UMKC Cultura En Tus Manos is an open online marketplace dedicated to helping artisans in Mexico market their products in the United States, allowing them to expand their customer base and easily export their products. Our platform differs from similar online marketplaces as we provide the artisans with personalized educational resources that allow them to develop effective marketing strategies to expand their online businesses while developing a cultural exchange through a meaningful connection with consumers. BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 1st place, $15,000 CartilaGen, Inc., - University of Iowa CartilaGen produces an injectable small-molecule drug suspended in a hydrogel vehicle that has been proven effective in preventing the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 2nd Place, $10,000 RollOut  - Missouri University of Science and Technology RollOut is a muscle roller and recovery product manufacturer that started in a dorm room and now partners with local businesses and online retailers. Community Business Award James and Rae Block Community Business Award, $2,500 Kufukaa, LLC Kufukaa is a Kansas City-based small business that creates sustainable apparel at the intersection of kitchenware and home essentials which are handmade in Kansas City. This premium collection of sustainable apron lines fills a long-standing market gap in Kansas City's culinary scene. The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family.   May 25, 2021

  • Conservatory Alumnus: Life As A Composer

    Christopher Hart’s music career goes down many paths
    Where does a small-town Iowa boy go when he wants to be an opera singer? He goes to the big city for training. Christopher Hart (M.A. '90) came to UMKC to study with Norman Abelson at the UMKC Conservatory. After graduation, he spent a few years in Oklahoma. Then “life happened” and Hart followed the calling of a small town and moved to McComb, Mississippi. For the past 12 years, Hart has served as the minister of music, media and arts for Centenary United Methodist Church. His background in music education was useful last year as he, along with the entire world, had to navigate through the pandemic. When in-person events decreased in numbers or came to a halt, Hart had to get creative. “We learned how to livestream,” Hart said. “It has been a big learning curve over the past year. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned how to adapt to it. The church never closed.” Throughout the pandemic, Hart said the church held in-person and livestream services. Although attendance has picked up in the last few weeks, Hart said they will continue to offer a livestream because people like having that option. Hart said they brought the choir back in March with a few people in the balcony. “They’re having a good time up there,” Hart said. Hart has written dozens of songs. One he wrote six years ago, “In the Cross,” won best Christian song in the Dallas Songwriters Christian songwriters’ contest. The song, and a few others, can be found on iTunes. He has also written scores for four feature films with a fifth that will be released at the end of the year. Hart’s current project, 12 Westerns in 12 Months, is a collaboration with friend, filmmaker and actor Travis Mills. He said the project has been fun and challenging because the deadlines are constant. To write the score for each movie, Hart read the scripts and received music ideas from the director, often in the form of temporary music. He said the process has been fun. “Composing is like putting a puzzle together,” Hart said. Between 2020 and 2021, Hart composed the soundtracks for "Bastard's Crossing," "She Was the Deputy's Wife," “The Bank Robbery” and "Counting Bullets." “Bastard's Crossing” garnered several film festival awards, the most recent being Best Mississippi Feature Film at the Oxford, Mississippi Film Festival. The movies will all be available on DVD, Amazon and Amazon Prime. Hart garnered a Festival Director’s Choice Best Score for “Counting Bullets.”  Being a songwriter is not easy and doesn’t make a lot of money, so Hart created his own publishing company called Ten Minutes to Anywhere. The company name came out of his move to Mississippi. “You can get anywhere in this town in 10 minutes,” he said. “It is nice.” Even though being a composer and songwriter is more of a side gig, it is rewarding. His advice to someone considering a career as a composer is to keep writing. “Write music every day,” Hart said. “Learn as much as you can about your craft. Study different composers. Don’t study just one genre. Be flexible. Study other people. Learn about the instruments. Learn about orchestral techniques. Learn about software and virtual instruments.” And speaking of side gigs, Hart has also been performing onstage for more than 40 years and has become an experienced background actor. “It’s fun being in the movies,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. It’s harder than you imagine.” With a variety of projects at hand, Hart stays grounded and has turned projects down. “I care about what I do,” Hart said. “I want what I do to be the best that can happen. I want to stay true to myself.” For now, Hart is for hire as a composer and actor. His studio is in his home. “As I get closer to retirement age,” he said. “I know I can do it from anywhere.” And by it, Hart doesn’t only mean acting and composing. During the pandemic, Hart said he was concerned about losing his ability to sing high notes, so he’s been taking voice lessons. He’s ready to audition again. This opera singer is ready for his next role. You can find Christopher Hart Film Composer on Facebook and see his acting credits on his IMDb page. They include The Wilderness Road, Tales of the Natchez Trace, Texas Red, Breaking News in Yuba County, Bastard’s Crossing, One Night in Miami, four episodes of NCIS New Orleans, two episodes of On Becoming a God in Central Florida, The Highwaymen. May 25, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Allen Rostron

    Kansas City-area law professors are weighing in on a possible legal battle between the city and the Board of Police Commissioners
    Allen Rostron, law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the situation is a novel one. Read the full story. May 25, 2021

  • In Kansas City, A Wave of Evictions Could Push Gun Violence to New Extremes This Year

    Kansas City Star taps Ken Novak from UMKC
    “Were it (moratorium on evictions) to be lifted, especially all at once, and there was a flood of evictions or foreclosures, that just creates more housing and shelter instability,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. (subscription required) This story was picked up by The Pitch. May 23, 2021

  • Bloch School Alumnus Taps Entrepreneurial Spirit to Write Children’s Book

    Pandemic free time prompted Jaspreet Singh to create underrepresented characters
    Jaspreet Singh graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in December 2015 with an eye toward the sky. His dream was of an airline industry career on the business side and an interest in designing experiences for travelers on the personal side. Since graduation, this 2015 Student Entrepreneur of the Year has been traveling around the world with his job at United Airlines accomplishing many of his goals. When we wrote about Singh before graduation, he said college inspired him to push himself and to be the best version of himself that he can be. “It has motivated me to expand my network and get out of my comfort zone and focus on personal and professional goals,” he said. So, we decided to check in with Singh and see how far he’s pushed himself. It turns out, that he’s been accomplishing quite a bit in spite of the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. He wrote a children’s book, Aya and Avi's Airplane Adventure. He's also been named by Tripadvisor as one of eight Asian-American influencers to follow. Singh is an award-winning airline industry passenger experience professional with experience across product marketing, pricing and revenue management, e-commerce and digital marketing. Writing the book was separate from his job. His goal is to inspire the next generation of aviators through diversity and representation by allowing the kids of today to see themselves represented in aviation. “The idea for the book was born as a quarantine side project in my free time and took me about a year to do,” Singh said. Professionally, Singh said the pandemic forced him to use the entrepreneurial mindset instilled in him during his studies and in his day-to-day life by learning how to pivot and think more innovatively. “Times within the aviation and travel sector were tough, but this required a shift in thinking and prioritization to operate like a start up.” Personally, Singh said the pandemic allowed him to reprioritize and be grateful for all of the experiences, friends and family that have led him to this point and the value of being your true authentic self every day. “It’s also allowed me to reflect on personal goals and ways to give back, which is one of the reasons I started writing this book – to help give back to the future of aviation by inspiring the next generation of aviators.” A study done by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that nine times more children’s books were written annually about talking animals than featuring an LGBTQ character; and three times more books than with Asian American Pacific Islander characters, according to Singh. He said books with talking animals accounted for more books than all underrepresented minority groups combined.   “Growing up I never saw anyone like myself represented in children’s books and always wished I had something I could relate to,” Singh said. “Ultimately instead of waiting around for someone to write it, I decided to go ahead and just do it! I wanted to write a book that captured my lifelong interest of aviation with diversity and representation of characters from many backgrounds and ethnicities, including LGBTQ characters.” The book is currently available on Amazon. Singh partnered with a third party to complete the illustrations. He has also secured a charity partnership through an organization named Rainbow Railroad where a portion of profits from every book sold are donated to help LGBT individuals living in fear of persecution, torture or murder, find a path to safety to start a new life. May 21, 2021

  • Working for Youth Initiative Needs More Employers, Donors to Support KC Teen Internships

    UMKC alumni share college internship experiences with Fox4KC
    University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate Daisy Garcia Montoya just finished an internship at City Hall in the communications department. UMKC alumna Aly Hernandez, external affairs manager for City Hall, was also interviewed for this story. Read more. May 21, 2021

  • Our Healthy KC Eastside To Focus On Vaccine Outreach And Distribution

    KCUR interviews Jannette Berkley-Patton
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Community Health Research Group, was a guest on Up to Date. Read more from KCUR. May 20, 2021

  • St. Joseph Museums Welcome Interns

    St. Joseph newspaper features UMKC History student's internship
    Solveig Klarin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said she is interested in the education and interpretation aspect. Read the full story. May 19, 2021

  • Olathe Students Prepare To Take AP Tests After A Year Of Pandemic School

    KCUR taps Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley
    UMKC Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley said AP courses and exams provide foundational skills for college-level courses. She said it’s important the college standards that evaluate student’s learning be consistent and maintained, even during a pandemic. Read the article from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Dangerous And Disinvested: Kansas City's Struggle To Fix Hundreds Of Blighted Buildings

    College of Arts and Sciences faculty provide insight for KCUR story on blighted buildings
    Erik Olsen, professor and chair of the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Erin Royals, neighborhood outreach and research coordinator at the Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC, were interviewed for this story. Read the story from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Hearing is His Life

    UMKC piano professor battles – and overcomes – his sudden hearing loss.
    As assistant professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, the ability to hear is critical to Chris Madden. Each day, he listens intently to his students play and perform works on the piano, helping to fine tune their skills. His listens to the notes with detail and for clarity, providing valuable feedback in their learning process. He also enjoys listening to his own playing of the piano, which he picked up at the age of 13.  “Starting at that age is relatively late compared to my colleagues,” said Madden. “No one in my family was particularly musical, but piano was something I wanted to do. I even paid for my own lessons to start out!”  But last fall, Madden woke up one morning not able to hear out of one of his ears.  “I thought it was a clogged ear from congestion,” said Madden, who didn’t think much of it at the time. But that changed a few days later. “I was biking downtown and couldn’t hear a city bus passing by me on my left side. I knew something was very wrong.”  Doctors diagnosed his condition as idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing, commonly known as sudden deafness. “I was devastated,” said Madden. “The first thing I thought of was how am I going to teach like this?” said Madden. “I just started at UMKC two years ago and then something like this happens.”  His type of hearing loss is rare – about 1 in 5,000 are diagnosed each year according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Doctors believed Madden’s case was caused by a virus. His physician prescribed steroid treatments and shots, along with sharing the odds that only 10 percent of people regain their full sense of hearing.  “My doctor kept emphasizing with this diagnosis, every day counts,” said Madden. “With each person I talked to, I’d say, ‘I don’t know if you can get me in today, but here’s what I do for a living. I work at a conservatory and hearing is my life.’” Researching his treatment options, he connected with North Kansas City Hospital and its hyperbaric oxygen therapy, called HBOT. The treatment involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. It’s a well-established treatment for scuba divers suffering decompression sickness, but has also been effective in treating hard-to-heal wounds and other health conditions such as sudden hearing loss. Within 24 hours of calling NKCH, Madden was undergoing treatment. For 20 days, he received a two-hour-long HBOT treatment. He compared the chamber to an MRI tube, with one distinct difference. “The chamber is pressurized to 65 feet below sea level so my ears were popping quite a bit adjusting to that.” Slowly – and fortunately – Madden’s hearing started to return. It wasn’t immediate, but by the end of his treatment, all hearing tests were back to normal. “My cell phone is finally back to the lowest volume,” said Madden. “When my students play the piano now, I sit there and think it’s just nice to hear normal sounds again, because it wasn’t like that for a few weeks there.” – Chris Madden “When my students play the piano now, I sit there and think it’s just nice to hear normal sounds again,” said Madden. “Because it wasn’t like that for a few weeks there.” Madden credits his recovery to the combination of his steroid therapy and HBOT, along with his ability to get treatment so quickly. And he encourages others to act fast when facing urgent changes in your health – something he also emphasized when sharing his story with KSHB TV-41 and North Kansas City Hospital. “You really have to advocate for yourself,” he said. “If it feels urgent, go straight to the doctor and say, ‘This is an emergency!’” May 17, 2021

  • Commencement at The K: Unique In Every Way

    Historic setting at Kauffman Stadium marks emergence from isolation
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City emerged from more than a year of pandemic isolation in spectacular fashion, as the community celebrated the degrees earned by more than 2,300 graduates in a historic two-day commencement celebration at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City’s university partnered with Kansas City’s beloved baseball team to create an unprecedented pandemic coming-out party in true major-league fashion, complete with the giant CrownVision screen broadcasting each individual graduate larger than life to all guests in the stadium. In addition to the Class of 2021, UMKC invited graduates from the Class of 2020 to return to their alma mater to celebrate their own achievements in person, an opportunity they had missed because of the risks of COVID-19 at its worst.  It was a celebration of not just academic accomplishment, but of perseverance through multiple significant challenges. “Considering the unique challenges you overcame to get here, it is very fair to say that the classes of 2020 and 2021 are major league in every respect.” - Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Kauffman Stadium was full of UMKC at The K details on CrownVision and other screens, including #RoyalRoos #Classof2021RooStrong #Classof2020RooStrong Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications “Considering the unique challenges you overcame to get here, it is very fair to say that the classes of 2020 and 2021 are major league in every respect,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “From the great recession that arose when most of you were children; to the unprecedented global pandemic from which we are beginning to emerge, you have been challenged like few graduating classes before. You are here today because you refused to be defeated by those challenges.” Graduates in the Saturday ceremonies celebrated under overcast skies but stayed dry. Sunday's ceremonies brought rain, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the graduates or the guests who cheered them. UMKC Conservatory theatre majors wore red noses. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC graduates enjoyed the #RoyalRoos surroundings. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Celebrating in the rain! Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC Provost Jennifer Lundgren acted as grand marshal of the ceremony. "We are so grateful to John Sherman and the Kansas City Royals for giving us this opportunity to celebrate in the majestic Kauffman Stadium," Lundgren said. "We certainly feel at home surrounded by blue and gold." UMKC alumna Mary Daly, Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, delivered a commencement address that also focused on the unique situation of the two graduating classes. “The pandemic has torn away the trappings of our normal lives,” she said. “Some of the revelations have been hard. Disparities, divisions, hate, a sense that there is too little for all of us and that we must each fight for our fair share. But we’ve also seen brightness, generosity, vulnerability.” Because of their pandemic experience, she said the graduates “bring something critical, beyond your degrees and programs. You bring lived experience.” “In you lies the power to demand something different,” she concluded. “The tragedy of the pandemic can be your strength, your superpower … I guarantee you this: If you do that, our children’s children will read about you. They’ll wonder how those heroes changed the world.”  Graduating students stood waiting to cross the stage. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications The joy of graduation in a ballpark. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC School of Dentistry has graduated generations of Hawaiian alumni, thus the leis! Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications Cheering from the stands. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Grad caps were especially creative at Commencement at The K. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Student-Athlete Brandon McKissick crossed the stage. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications “We are so grateful to John Sherman and the Kansas City Royals for giving us this opportunity to celebrate in the majestic Kauffman Stadium. We certainly feel at home surrounded by blue and gold.” - Provost Jennifer Lundgren The stage was set in front of home plate. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Grad cap. Check. Umbrella. Check. Smiling selfie. Check, check, check. Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and graduates smiled in the rain of the May 16 ceremonies. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Even the rain tarp celebrated UMKC at The K. Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications “The tragedy of the pandemic can be your strength, your superpower … I guarantee you this: If you do that, our children’s children will read about you. They’ll wonder how those heroes changed the world.” - Mary Daly Graduates line up to cross the stage at Kauffman Stadium. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Hugging, finally. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Congratulations, UMKC graduates! #RoyalRoos #Classof2020RooStrong #Classof2021RooStrong Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications May 16, 2021

  • UMKC Commencement at The K

    Local media report on historic two-day commencement celebration
    UMKC Classes of 2021 and 2020 gathered at Kauffman Stadium to accept their diplomas on Saturday and Sunday. Read the news coverage: Kauffman Stadium serves as location for UMKC commencement ceremonies - KCTV5 A little rain wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of these UMKC graduates - Fox4KC   May 16, 2021

  • Stop Asian Hate Leans Into Legacy of Civil Rights to Spark Movement, Dismantle Racism

    Kansas City Star interviews Toya Like, UMKC associate professor of criminal justice and criminology
    “We’ve always seen social movements happen we just didn’t have a term for it, and movements for justice and equality and shared space, and shared resources,” said Toya Like, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article in the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 16, 2021

  • Kevin Strickland Is Innocent, Officials Say. Can That Free Him From Missouri Prison?

    Sean O’Brien, UMKC School of Law professor, gives interviews to Kansas City media
    “We thought that we opened an avenue for innocent prisoners,” said Sean O’Brien, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who represented Joseph Amrine. “And then comes Rodney Lincoln.” Read the news coverage: Lawyers set up fundraiser for Kevin Strickland, say they’re confident he will be freed - Kansas  City Star (subscription requied) Missouri Supreme Court won’t hear Kevin Strickland’s case. He’s innocent, prosecutors say - Kansas City Star (subscription required) The Jackson County Prosecutor Says Kevin Strickland Is Innocent. Why Is He Still Behind Bars? - KCUR Kevin Strickland is innocent, officials say. Can that free him from Missouri prison? - Kansas City Star (subscription required) May 16, 2021

  • Entrepreneurship Innovation Grants Accelerate UMKC Programs

    First round of funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports seven initiatives
    The UMKC Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program announced its first seven grant recipients this week. These recipients were awarded a total of $250,000 to develop new ways of approaching community challenges. The Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program is a joint effort by the UMKC Innovation Center, the Regnier Institute at the UMKC Bloch School of Management and the UMKC School of Law to increase entrepreneurial activities across UMKC. “This grant program was designed to create direct incentives to stimulate additional collaboration and growth on campus,” says Laura Moore, program coordinator for the Regnier Institute. “One of the real advantages of this program is that – in addition to the funding – we offer support programs to recipients to accelerate their success.” "This grant program was designed to create direct incentives to stimulate additional collaboration and growth on campus." – Laura Moore This year the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation donated $400,000 to stimulate on-campus innovation through entrepreneurial initiatives over the next two years. Twenty-one organizations responded to the call for proposals in February. Kansas City Explores Earth and Environment (KC E3) is one of this round’s recipients. An initiative from the Earth and Environmental Sciences department, this program provides support to students of color to pursue STEM degrees and enter the workforce. Participants will partner with high school students from the Kansas City Teen Summit (KCTS) community program to use STEM expertise to explore plans to tackle local environmental hazards and develop solutions for urban climate change. The program would have looked very different without the grant funding. “We would have had minimal activities if the program were run by myself and two graduate students,” Alison Graettinger, assistant professor of geosciences, says. “Funding will allow us to achieve a solid UMKC peer mentor to KCTS student ratio and provide additional equipment so student participants don’t have to share. This will enable stronger engagement and genuine practice collecting and managing real world data. We will also be able to bring Black business owners in the environmental sector to come talk to the KCTS students.” Angela Cottrell, Ed.D, director of research and institute programs, says the funding was equally critical for her team at From Seed to Table to research education and infrastructure investment as she develops a training program for military veterans to receive workforce development and hands-on experience learning urban architecture. “Without this funding the project would not have existed. Based on this funding our research team will receive an additional $600,000 award from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture program. This will extend the project for three years and allow us to provide more military veteran participation.” May 14, 2021

  • Six Months In, COVID Vaccination Rates For Black Missourians Remain Far Below State Average

    Media outlets report on COVID vaccination rates for Black Missourians
    Jannette Berkley–Patton, a professor and community health researcher at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine, says that without additional measures to boost vaccination rates in Missouri, African Americans as well as the community at large will remain at risk from the virus. Read more of the latest news coverage. Kansas City COVID-19 Daily Briefing for May 21 - KCUR KCUR All Things Considered Study aimed at increasing COVID-19 testing in churches moves forward - KSHB May 14, 2021

  • Fitting for Robes

    Two UMKC Law alumni receive significant judicial appointments
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. Melissa Taylor Standridge (J.D. ’93) Justice, Kansas Supreme Court Melissa Taylor Standridge Justice Standridge had been a Kansas Court of Appeals judge since 2008. An adoptive  and foster parent, she has a long history of volunteer work and activism on behalf of foster and adopted families. Standridge and her husband, retired Missouri Judge Richard Standridge (J.D. ’80), have six children, including four who were adopted. She has received numerous awards during her career. Among them are the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service from the American Inns of Court, the Carol Foreman Medal of Civility from the Kansas Women Attorneys Association and the Diversity Award from the Kansas Bar Association. She was one of the ten original committee members of the Kansas Bar Association Diversity Committee. While in law school, Standridge served as editor-in-chief of the UMKC Law Review, Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board and the only student member of the Faculty Hiring Committee. Before graduating from UMKC cum laude, she served as a research assistant for then-professor Ellen Suni, now dean emerita, who Standridge says was an influential role model and mentor. “A smile inevitably appears on my face when I think about the friends I made and the memories we shared, through both the painless and the more painful aspects of law school.” - Melissa Taylor Standridge  “Through her actions, I learned the importance of adhering to the rule of law, the value of a healthy work ethic and the necessity for excellence in every aspect of practice,” Standridge says. “But the most significant value she exhibited for me was her commitment to justice, fairness and inclusion.” One of her most treasured memories of law school, she says, was her daily interaction with classmates. “A smile inevitably appears on my face when I think about the friends I made and the memories we shared, through both the painless and the more painful aspects of law school.”   Brian Gaddy (J.D. ’94) Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District Of Missouri Judge Gaddy focused primarily on criminal law during a 26-year career in private practice. He accepted W. Brian Gaddy numerous Criminal Justice Act appointments to represent indigent defendants in federal court and was appointed as learned counsel in seven federal capital murder cases, avoiding the death penalty in all seven. In law school, he served as a research assistant to Curator’s Professor Nancy Levit and won the Ralph S. Latshaw Award as outstanding student tin criminal law courses. He graduated with distinction in 1994. Gaddy has served on the UMKC   Law Foundation Board of Trustees since 2013. He currently serves as both vice president of the board and chair of the Resources and Leadership Committee. “I have always felt the education and experience I had at UMKC not only   helped me to become a better lawyer, but it helped me become a better person. My law school experience truly changed my outlook on the world,” Gaddy says. He credits Levit in particular. “Professor Levit has been supportive of my career ever since law school. She understands the peaks and the valleys of being a criminal defense lawyer.” Gaddy sees his new role as a natural fit. “I have always felt the education and experience I had at UMKC not only helped me to become a better lawyer, but it helped me become a better person. My law school experience truly changed my outlook on the world.” - W. Brian Gaddy “My career was spent primarily in federal courts, so a federal magistrate judge position felt like home to me,” he says. “I was also positively influenced by numerous federal judges that I appeared in front of during my legal career. Many of them served as positive role models for me, and several served as mentors.” He believes his career-long commitment to public service will influence his work on the bench. “I have represented literally hundreds of indigent defendants in the criminal justice system,” Gaddy says. “I have represented homeless clients and victims of abuse through my work with the Volunteer Attorney Project. These experiences certainly shaped me as a lawyer and will serve me well as a new magistrate judge.” May 13, 2021

  • School of Medicine Recognizes First I-Ph.D. graduate

    Jeremy Provance interprets data points to tell stories of people’s health
    Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer. This month, Provance will be the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics. He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.” Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest. Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care. Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.  “My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” - Jeremy Provance “My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.  Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”  Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group. “I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said. Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said. And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!” May 13, 2021

  • 2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients

    Eleven students recognized for scholastic performance, community leadership and service
    Graduating students who have excelled in both academic achievement and service may be nominated as a Dean of Students Honor Recipient.  “Every semester, it is our pleasure to host a breakfast in celebration of the accomplishments of the Dean of Students Honor Recipients.  While this semester has been a bit different, we wanted to continue this tradition by virtually celebrating your achievements,” shared Co-Interim Dean of Students Keichanda Dees-Burnett. [watch the video] This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom. “You are an exceptional group of people.  Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community.  When you saw a need, you worked to fill it.  You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists and you should rightfully be proud of yourselves,” said Co-Interim Dean of Students Todd Wells. [watch the video] Congratulations! Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Stefanie Ellison [watch the video] Mojtaba Mark Abnos – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Nominated by Kathleen Kilway [watch the video] Abdulmajeed Baba Ahmed – School of Computing and Engineering [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Charles Burke – School of Medicine Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Sarah Duggan – School of Law [watch the video] Nominated by Sean O’Brien [watch the video] Varsha Muthukumar – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Isabella Nair – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Ginikachukwu Osude – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Saloni Patel – School of Pharmacy [watch the video] Nominated by Cameron Lindsey [watch the video] Daphne Posadas – Bloch School of Management [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Emily Rackers – Conservatory and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Lynne O’Dell [watch the video] May 13, 2021

  • Forecast Downpour Won’t Dampen Mood for UMKC Commencement at The K

    KCTV5 interviews UMKC students about Commencement
    Potentially heavy rain this weekend could pour down on several college graduation ceremonies, including UMKC’s commencement at Kauffman Stadium. Under sunny skies Thursday, lawn games acted as a small scale year-end celebration for a group of UMKC’s academic tutors, but the big celebration is this weekend. Read the article and watch the newscast. May 13, 2021

  • Younger Kids Can Now Get COVID Vaccine

    School of Medicine associate professor weighs-in for Kansas City Star
    “I think there’s a variation of response around COVID vaccination in general, but especially when it comes to children and parents thinking about the safety of their children,” said Bridgette Jones, pediatrician at Children’s Mercy and associate professor, department of pediatrics at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the full story from the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 13, 2021

  • Three to Receive Gold Award for Humanistic Care

    Standouts in health outreach during the pandemic will be recognized by national foundation
    Three members of the UMKC health care community have been recognized by the university as 2021 Gold Foundation Champions of Humanistic Care. They will be among those from across the country honored at a virtual gala June 10, where three national honorees, including Anthony Fauci, M.D., will also be recognized. The winners, all nominated by the UMKC School of Medicine and its dean, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.: Bridgette L. Jones, M.D., M.S.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics; assistant academic dean in the medical school’s Office of Student Affairs; allergy, asthma and immunology specialist at Children’s Mercy Obie Austin, F.N.P., M.S.N., UMKC Student Health and Wellness director and UMKC School of Nursing alum Pam Bean, R.N., B.S.N., M.H.S.A., M.B.A., Truman Medical Centers/University Health vice president for practice management and ambulatory care Sharing vital information Jones was commended for working to ensure humanistic care for patients, providing COVID-19 education along with other trusted messengers and sharing her voice to eliminate health inequities for those most affected by the pandemic. Her activities included working with a medical student leader to distribute masks to medical centers and communities in need, and collaborating with a faculty colleague to launch a fund-raising campaign to support Children’s Mercy employees who had unexpected financial need during the pandemic. She also discussed COVID-19 with community teenagers to answer their questions and was the host and moderator of a panel discussion with other trusted physicians and faculty focused on COVID-19 disease and vaccination in the Black community of Kansas City. “Over the past year the pandemic has brought so much grief, sorrow, loss and pain to so many individuals, communities and our entire world,” Jones said. “I have been blessed to have my calling and purpose as a physician and as a human being to be a helper. I am blessed and privileged to be able to use my knowledge, skills and my voice to advocate and speak up for those who are most often thought of last or not thought of at all.” Caring and collaborating Austin, the longtime director of student health services for the university, was praised as “one of our true heroes over the past year” for his leadership in fostering a culture of care and service. He was commended for quickly learning about COVID-19 and continuing to say up on the latest information so he could be a trusted source for the broader UMKC community and as a member of the university’s Coronavirus Planning Team. “Providing care never takes the back seat,” Austin said. “I learned that from so many beautiful souls that poured into me as a student here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, and it has been an honor to give back to the community educators making a difference in the Kansas City community.” Austin, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reflected on the past year. “This war on COVID has tested our resiliency, fueled our compassion for others and most definitely our ability to see each other in an equal light fighting together as one people to save our humanity,” he said. Rapid response throughout pandemic Bean was praised for her efforts that kept Truman Medical Centers, a vital member of the UMKC Health Sciences District and a key affiliate for the School of Medicine, on top of the pandemic. Her nomination for the award said Bean “could not have been replaced in the early, uncertain days of the pandemic.” She helped design the protocols that enabled TMC to initially provide more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines, and her quick work allowed TMC to be the first medical center in the metro area to vaccinate its staff. “Providers worked quickly, and with compassion, to match the cruel reality of patients dying without family by their bedside,” Bean said. “Patients turned to providers for emotional support, and I am proud of my team for answering that need while offering high-quality, comprehensive care.” The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is dedicated to the proposition that health care will be dramatically improved by placing the interests, values and dignity of all people at the core of teaching and practice. In addition to Fauci, this year’s national Gold Awards will honor Wayne Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and head of the Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, and Eric Topol, M.D., founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute.   May 11, 2021

  • FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Teens

    USA Today, more media outlets, interview Barbara Pahud about vaccine
    Barbara Pahud, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said she’s thrilled that the nation can add vaccinated teens to its list of accomplishments. Read the USA Today article. Read more from the Lansing State Journal and Wisconsin Rapids Tribune. May 11, 2021

  • Could Kansas and Missouri See Gas Shortage?

    Fox4KC interviews UMKC Bloch professor
    Stephen Pruitt, Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Endowed Chair of Business Economics and Finance at the UMKC Block School, was interviewed for this article. Read the full article. May 11, 2021

  • Missouri to End Extra Federal Unemployment Aid Early

    Nathan Mauck weighs-in on Missouri unemployment benefit news
    Business owners do believe part of the reason why they can’t hire enough staff is increased unemployment benefits, but not the only reason. UMKC Associate Professor of Finance Nathan Mauck agrees with business owners. Read the news articles: Missouri to end extra federal unemployment aid early - KCTV5 Local restaurant staff weigh in on end to COVID unemployment benefits - KCTV5   May 11, 2021

  • Nursing Shortage Aggravated by the Pandemic

    KSHB talks to dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies about nursing shortage and pandemic
    “The educational needs of the nursing profession and the need for nursing care that exists in the U.S. continues to push a feeling of responsibility and pressure on nursing educational institutions,” said Joy Roberts, dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Watch the newscast and read the article. May 11, 2021

  • Carefully Crafted Ads Mold the Beauty Standard, Impact Perceptions While Driving Big Business

    Fox4KC taps UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren
    Jenny Lundgren, provost and professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says while ads churn the economy, the “image” they oftentimes promote can affect our perception of beauty. Read more. May 11, 2021

  • Kansas City Metro Employers Search for New Hires

    Bloch School professors lend expertise to media
    As Kansas City starts to open back up from the pandemic, employers across Kansas City are finding it difficult to hire enough employees. When looking for experts to explain the problem, many reporters look to the economics and finance professors at UMKC. Here are some of the recent stories: KCTV5 with UMKC Bloch School associate professor of finance Nathan Mauck KCUR with UMKC Bloch School professor of Executive Education Ann Hackett KSHB with UMKC Bloch School Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Endowed Chair of Business Economics and Finance Stephen Pruitt May 10, 2021

  • Jackson County Executive endorses 'Our Healthy KC Eastside' project

    Local media announces efforts, which will be led by Jannette Berkley-Patton
    Efforts will be led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, and the project will run from June 1 until Nov. 31. Read the articles: Jackson County Executive endorses 'Our Healthy KC Eastside' project - KSHB Jackson County OKs $5 million to improve low COVID-19 vaccination rates on East Side - Kansas City Star (subscription required) Jackson County spending millions in relief funding to vaccinate people in 6 zip codes - Fox4KC New initiative will focus on building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in east Kansas City - Fox4KC Jackson County will use federal funds to help vaccinate inner-city residents - KMBC Jackson County meets for $5 million vaccine hesitancy proposal - KCTV5 UMKC-led project seeks to increase vaccination intake on KC’s eastern side - KCTV5 Jackson County Legislature Unanimously Approves “Our Healthy KC Eastside” Project - Lee's Summit Tribune Jackson County OKs $5 Million To Ramp Up COVID Vaccinations On Kansas City’s East Side - KCUR UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on Kansas City’s East Side - The Community Voice May 10, 2021

  • UMKC Health Sciences Students Play Major Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

    Meet the medical, nursing, pharmacy and dental students who are helping
    At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, students from the four Health Sciences Campus schools have been busy in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, volunteering thousands of hours of service. Third-year medical student Nikki Seraji said she recognizes that nurses and pharmacists often bear the brunt of the work of actually administering vaccines. So, when Stefanie Ellison, M.D., UMKC School of Medicine associate dean for learning initiatives, asked for medical student volunteers to become certified vaccinators, Seraji jumped at the opportunity. “I’m studying the medical field and going to be doing this for a living and felt like I couldn’t help out enough,” she said. “When the opportunity to volunteer (as a vaccinator) came in in mid-January, I wanted to take advantage.”  Ellison said that 66 UMKC medical students from years one through six have been trained and certified to give vaccines. The students give vaccinations daily at the Truman Medical Center COVID-19 vaccination center at the University Health 2 building. They’ve helped with the School of Pharmacy’s campus vaccine clinic, assisted in vaccination events at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Zoo, Hallmark and the Missouri Cerner campus among other events and clinics. At the school’s new St. Joseph Campus, Steve Waldman, M.D., campus dean, said all of his students have been certified as vaccinators and have given vaccines at the St. Joseph Mosaic Life Care vaccination center. Many, he said, have participated in other community vaccination outreach events as well. Ellison said she works daily to partner the School of Medicine with vaccine clinics and events across Kansas City. “Our students are so wonderful that when TMC has a busy day, I can email or text our students to help in a pinch and three to five students show up to help,” she said. Students at the School of Pharmacy are trained and certified to give vaccines during the second year of their curriculum. As of mid-March, pharmacy students and faculty had volunteered 4,400 volunteer hours to administer more than 17,500 doses of vaccines at 36 events throughout the state. Jane Beyer, a third-year pharmacy student, said she began helping administer COVID vaccines in December as soon as they were available. “It is exciting that as student pharmacists we are able to get out there and really help the community and be part of the solution to COVID-19” she said. “It's a very rewarding feeling to be part of the vaccine efforts in Kansas City.” Medical student Seraji echoed that thought and admitted being a bit anxious when she was learning to administer a shot. With the help of the nurses who trained her, she was able to quickly adapt. Now she volunteers as a vaccinator at least once a week as her class schedule allows. “I was definitely anxious when I was getting certified but I did maybe 20 or 30 (shots) the first time I was on my own and you get into a routine,” she said. “I’m trying to think how many that I’ve vaccinated. I don’t know but it’s definitely more than 80 or 90.” Next door on the UMKC Health Sciences campus, nursing student Ciera Ayala got involved when the vaccination efforts were made an option for her clinical rotations. In fact, she has been part of eight vaccination events, most of them at Truman.   When she was vaccinated, Ayala said, she felt relief and “like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.” Now she is happy to share that feeling with all the people she inoculates.   “I find it very gratifying,” Ayala said. “I got to be a part of history, and it felt really good to be a part of the efforts to end this pandemic. It was also relieving, but also a little overwhelming, when we would have a line of hundreds of people for hours and hours ready to get their vaccine. It makes me happy that people are trusting in science!”  Ayala doesn’t remember any particular vaccine recipients, but she said, “it just felt really good when people were appreciative of our efforts.  “Health care workers don’t often get the recognition that is deserved, so when people recognized how hard we were working, it felt amazing.” From the School of Dentistry, 119 third-and fourth-year students bolstered the ranks of student vaccinators after they were trained in early April. They already knew how to give the more involved injections needed to numb dental patients but had to learn the quicker technique for vaccines. They were trained by Meghan Wendland, D.D.S., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the dental school, with help from faculty at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. They quickly joined in at Truman and at events for their fellow UMKC students. One dental student, Tiara Fry, said she was “a little nervous” the first few times she gave the shot, “but once I got comfortable with it, it was great! It felt amazing to be a part of diminishing the spread of a virus during a pandemic.” Fry said she sympathized with people who were skeptical or fearful but hoped to share the relief she felt when she was vaccinated. “I knew it was for a great purpose to do my part in protecting myself and those around me,” she said. “I felt for those who were extremely afraid of needles. Many would tell me right before I gave the injection, so I tried my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible.” Beyer said that working with the vaccine effort has made her a valuable resource to friends and family, helping them stay up to date on the latest information and vaccine availabilities. “It's interesting that people have a lot of different responses to getting the vaccine,” she said. “There's kind of a split. Some people, I think, feel obligated to get the vaccine and are kind of nervous. But there's also the other half that just give sigh a sigh of relief after they get the vaccine. They're wanting to protect themselves and also all their loved ones.” Beyer estimated that she has participated in at least 10 vaccine clinics since December and only wished she had time to do more. She said that at one mass event she participated in, more than 800 people were vaccinated. “We wish we could be there all the time helping,” she said. “With school, it’s hard to dedicate all your time going out and vaccinating. Without all the volunteers, who knows where we would have been on this vaccine rollout schedule.” May 10, 2021

  • UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on the East Side

    Jackson County approves CARES Act funding to promote vaccinations and other preventive care
    The Jackson County Legislature has appropriated about $5 million in CARES Act funding to a project led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City to promote and deliver widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to neighborhoods on Kansas City’s east side, the city’s most socially vulnerable community. Our Healthy KC Eastside (OHKCE) has been developed through a community-engaged process that included input from 10 meetings with community stakeholders across the east side. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute, is leading the project. The project’s primary goals are to address vaccine hesitancy and health inequities in portions of Jackson County identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having exceedingly high socially vulnerable index scores. The project will run from June 1 until Nov. 31. “We are eager for the opportunity to partner with Jackson County on this project, and address health disparities related to COVID,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Thanks to Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton and her research, we have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us - and the critical relationships that will ensure the program’s success.” The COVID-19 education, communication and vaccination project will work with partners including Truman Medical Centers, the Kansas City Health Department and the Black Health Care Coalition. Other UMKC partners include the schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and Health Sciences; Center for Neighborhoods, Multicultural Student Services Center and Roos Advocating for Community Change. To reach people in the community, the project will engage with more than 120 community leaders and liaisons in east side neighborhoods, including businesses, churches, neighborhood associations and youth organizations. According to the university’s funding proposal,  the east side has experienced some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Jackson County while low vaccination rates persist. COVID-19 has also contributed to a drastic reduction in use of preventive health services. May 10, 2021

  • #RooReady for In-Person Classes and Experiences

    UMKC to have full-capacity Fall 2021 semester
    With the incidence of COVID remaining low on campus and more and more people getting vaccinated, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is #RooReady to return to full-capacity, in-person classes and activities for the Fall 2021 semester. “We are excited to reach the point of being able to plan for a ‘normal’ fall,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Of course, we will continue to consult with the health experts on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus and our city’s health partners and follow their advice. But we are confident that we will be able to safely resume in-person, full-capacity classes and campus life.” Agrawal praised the campus community for its diligence and resilience after COVID-19 prompted a pivot to online classes in March 2020. Since then, thousands of UMKC faculty and staff have worked to make the campus safe while continuing in-person classes and activities following stringent safety measures. That work and compliance with precautions — including mask wearing, free COVID testing and multiple campus vaccination events — have helped the university prevent further spread of the disease among the campus community. For fall semester: Residence halls and food service will resume normal operations. Lounge areas and common spaces will be reopened so students, faculty and staff can meet in person. Dining halls and other food venues will resume a full array of offerings and return to normal hours. A new monthly pop-up restaurant will be at the Student Union. Classes, events and activities including the nearly 300 student organizations will meet in person. Convocation, the official start to the academic year, will be in person and will kick off several weeks of special in-person student activities and events known as RooWelcome. Our Division I Kansas City Roos are planning a full slate of regular season contests in the fall. “Although this has been an unprecedented semester, I have no doubt in my mind that the UMKC community will persevere,” said UMKC Student Government Association President Tim Nguyen. “As UMKC Roos, kangaroos cannot move backwards; only forward. We will take it one step at a time as we transition and continue towards the post-pandemic and fall semester soon upon us.” Provost Jenny Lundgren said faculty and staff at UMKC are ready to welcome students back. “As our campus remains safe, we are excited to prepare for a return to in-person learning and activities,” said Lundgren. “No matter what the fall brings, we will ensure that we are ready to give our students a unique and rewarding experience.” May 06, 2021

  • Access to Justice

    School of Law designs Internet portal to simplify how victims of domestic violence get court protection in Kansas
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. Before COVID-19 changed everything, Kansas court officials knew they needed to change how victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault applied for court-ordered protection in the state. Johnson County District Court Judge Keven M.P. O’Grady says the process of seeking an Order of Protection in Kansas was time consuming. Before a judge could consider a request, vulnerable applicants had to wade through pages of legalese-filled paperwork and file it in person with a county clerk. “It was quite a process,” O’Grady says. “It was not uncommon for people to need two, three, four hours.” But when a worldwide pandemic shut down courthouses across the state last spring, filing in person was no longer an option. Making updates to the Order of Protection system moved from necessary to imperative on the state judiciary’s priority list. Partnering to Protect Kansans O’Grady had already been in discussions with the UMKC School of Law about using technology to make the process easier. Once courthouses closed down, the project moved to a fast track. “We were really worried about victims of domestic violence having access,” says O’Grady. Using federal COVID-19 grant funding, the Kansas court system contracted with the Law School to develop an online filing system. Instead of having applicants print out forms and deliver them in person, the state wanted to allow victims to seek help through a computer or smartphone. And, perhaps most importantly, the entire process needed to be easy to understand. The result, to be rolled out across the state by the end of February, is the Kansas Protection Order Portal, or KS POP. It is already up and running in Johnson, Riley and Harvey counties. “Now people don’t even need to go to a clerk” to file a petition, says Staci Pratt, who serves as director of public services at the Leon E. Bloch Law Library and oversees the school’s self-help clinic. “I think that’s fundamental to creating equal access to justice before the law.” In plain language, the KS POP explains exactly who is eligible for a protection order and what it takes to apply. The site also gives information about locally available advocates who can support a victim through the process. If victims decide to move forward, KS POP takes them through a simple, guided interview. They answer questions, and the portal uses that information to populate a form, which is then submitted to the proper county court jurisdiction. Last fall, as a small team at the Law School went to work on designing the portal, it quickly became clear that creating the computer platform to support the system wasn’t the hard part, says Ayyoub Ajmi, associate director and digital communication and learning initiatives librarian at the Leon E. Bloch Law Library. “This was not a technology problem,” he says. “This was really a legal problem and a process problem.” Among other things, the Law School had to convince different jurisdictions to accept the common form that the portal generates based on interview questions. The portal also needed to identify a victim’s individual circumstances, which could require varying information. Andrew Watts (J.D. ’20), a recent UMKC Law graduate who worked on the project for three months as a Truman Fellow, says it was important to understand exactly what information jurisdictions needed to move ahead with a petition, while also making the questions as clear as possible. “One of the goals was to simplify the process completely,” he says. So far, that effort to simplify things has greatly reduced the amount of time required to file a petition, literally trimming hours from the process. What may have taken an entire day could now be completed in less than an hour, Ajmi says. Making Safety a Priority While making the process simpler was one goal, portal designers also knew they needed to take great care to make sure that vulnerable victims using the portal remained safe. For this reason, the site features a single button that a victim can touch to immediately exit the portal if they fear being detected by their abuser. And every step of the way, the KS POP provides users with information about local advocates available to help them on the ground in their community. Marilyn Harp, executive director of Kansas Legal Services, says having that information is vital, since most victims benefit from having an advocate at their side to navigate legal and safety consequences that will arise with going to court. The convenience the portal affords is good news for Kansans facing domestic or sexual abuse, Harp says. But survivors should know that getting an advocate’s assistance is still an important part of the process. Often the most dangerous time for a survivor is when they leave their abuser, Harp says. Having an advocate who can help think through consequences and safety procedures can be critical. Harp thanked the UMKC team for clearly conveying that message through the portal. “They were sensitive to make this not only a user-friendly process, but also a survivor-friendly process that recognizes all the aspects of safety for the survivors,” she says. May 05, 2021

  • Making the Case Online

    How current law students are making it work in a pandemic
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. When our current 3L students graduate, they will have spent half of their law school careers online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We caught up with 3L students Alyson Englander, Timothy Randolph and Trevor Cunningham to hear how they’re navigating their final year — virtually. Why did you choose UMKC for your legal studies? Trevor Cunningham: It was an incredible value proposition with a great proximity to the Kansas City legal market. Alyson Englander: I chose UMKC for its reputation for being a collaborative, welcoming environment that supports non-traditional students like myself. Timothy Randolph: I chose UMKC because it offered a part-time program. I was also working in Johnson County and wanted to be local. Timothy Randolph Are you currently a clerk or intern in a law office? Cunningham: I’m currently clerking at Parman and Easterday in Overland Park, Kansas. I spend most of my time drafting documents, corresponding with legal advisors and circuit clerks and researching legal issues. Englander: While I’m not currently clerking, I have worked for the Missouri Attorney General’s office, as well as several firms during law school. Randolph: I worked in the Johnson County Prosecutor’s office for about five to six years before I decided to stop working and focus on finishing school. Has the pandemic impacted the job market for new lawyers? Cunningham: Most of us are fairly realistic about the ways in which the pandemic has made firms take an honest look at their ability to hire new associates. However, I truly believe that this 3L class is an incredibly bright and resilient group of individuals. I have little doubt that they’re going to find work even in this difficult job market. Alyson Englander and her daughter How did you manage the shift to online classes? Englander: The biggest challenges, for me, were balancing classes while my husband was also suddenly working from home and our 18-month-old daughter’s daycare was closed. I found myself having to switch my camera off often and text friends in my classes to see if I had missed anything important while tending to my family. For a few weeks, my peers and I were also very anxious about the format of our final exams and grading that semester. We were relieved when the law school ultimately decided to make all classes pass/fail. I found myself having to switch my camera off often and text friends in my classes to see if I had missed anything important while tending to my family. - Alyson Englander Randolph: My mentality, initially, was “it’s not much different because we’re sitting in class like we normally do,” but the tough part was peer interaction. Now, when you log off you have to chase down classmates to debrief after class. You get energy from your peers and being able to set up study sessions on the spot. There’s nothing personable about your laptop. Has this experience created any additional opportunities or challenges in your personal life? Cunningham: I suppose I’m like everyone else in that I have good days and not as good days. The pandemic has reminded me that it’s OK to take time for myself. By the same token, the pandemic has also caused some of my relationships to fracture. I attribute it mostly to the fact that so many things related to COVID have been so intensely politicized. I feel really sad that public health has been made into a political issue. The pandemic has reminded me that it’s OK to take time for myself.  - Trevor Cunningham Randolph: One thing I miss about being on campus is overhearing peers talking about opportunities or communication you may have missed. You get so many emails a day, it’s easy to miss something, but when you hear peers saying “oh, did you do this,” or “are you going to that,” it’s kind of like a reminder. What’s next for you after law school? Cunningham: Upon graduating, I hope to pursue an opportunity to practice in the areas of Business and Estate planning in the KC Metropolitan area. Englander: I hope to pursue a public service-oriented practice, but specifically I hope to work in immigration law. Randolph: I haven’t quite ironed out exactly what I want to do after graduation. My initial plan was to work as a prosecutor and become a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer with the Kansas Army National Guard, however I’ve recently found an interest in business law and business development. I love the idea of being in-house counsel for a few small businesses in the area and also be able help a startup business who might want to seek private equity funding. I’ve grown to love tax law and I’ve slightly considered possibly pursuing a LL.M. in Taxation. May 05, 2021

  • Bridging the Gap

    UMKC Law community steps up to support students in need
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting crisis, the UMKC School of Law responded by providing emergency support for students through the Students First Fund — an example of collegial assistance that is not unusual for students or alumni of the Law School. The Students First Fund began with an email campaign to law alumni. The firm of Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC agreed to match all donations through June 30, 2020. With the match, alumni contributed more than $18,000. The annual appeal at the end of 2020 supported the Students First Fund as well, and the Jack and Helyn Miller Foundation gifted a $10,000 challenge grant to support the fund while encouraging law alumni to make a year-end gift to help even more students. Tom Jones (J.D. ’88) and his partners Scott Bethune (J.D. ’88) and Grant Davis (J.D. ’87) say they established the match because they know how challenging being a student in law school can be. “We remember how hard it was for us to be students — the time, the sacrifice, the money,” Jones says. “Being a student has historically been a financial hardship – not only on students, but on the people surrounding the student. Sometimes we forget how people are struggling to get by.” Ashley Swanson-Hoye, who administers the fund, encounters students with these challenges regularly. She says the Students First Fund was established to help those students who are experiencing a financial shortfall with immediate needs such as rent, utility bills, childcare and groceries. Payouts are considered an emergency loan, which students can pay back in a set amount of time with no interest. Swanson-Hoye also works with students to see if she can connect them with additional resources, such as counseling or long-term financial assistance. In addition, Swanson-Hoye makes sure that the students know about the UMKC Student Emergency Fund, the Roo Pantry and other community services that may be able to provide long-term help. She says the Law School leadership and administration anticipated that students would have greater need. “Some students or their partners worked in the restaurant industry part-time and lost their jobs,” she says. “The unexpected loss hit them hard, so the emergency fund helped them make it.” The one thing students seeking emergency funds had in common, she says, was their reaction when they discovered it was available. “Relief! They have all been so grateful that we had funds that can be used to help them with immediate needs,” she says. Fortunately, there are still funds available. “We continue to have requests and we want students who are facing emergency situations to reach out and use the funds,” she says. “Our goal is to support our students holistically. The emergency fund is just one piece of that.” This community environment is one reason the firm of Davis, Bethune & Jones continues to support student success in many forms. “My partners and I have enormous affection and respect for UMKC’s Law School,” Jones says. “We feel lucky to have been able to attend. Our experiences there as students and now as alums has inspired us to give back.” To make a gift to the UMKC School of Law, visit us online or contact Marie Dispenza, J.D., at UMKC Law Foundation, at 816-235-6328 or dispenzam@umkcfoundation.org. May 05, 2021

  • Building for the Future

    Renovations geared for student success
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. The latest renovations to the School of Law building are as purposeful as they are attractive. Classrooms 02 and 05 have been converted to more versatile learning spaces with new technology for hybrid instruction and online participation. These classrooms also dramatically expand the school’s ability to provide continuing legal education programs remotely. A new Student Success Suite replaces the former  career services suite. The new suite is home to the registrar, student services manager, associate dean for students and the professional and career development staff. A new Admissions Suite is fully devoted to admissions staff and student emissaries to  conduct recruitment activities. These renovations were funded by a $3   million grant from the Sunderland Foundation. Next up: outdoor renovations, including a raised-bed garden replacing the fountain on the Truman Terrace; and thanks to a generous grant from David Stoup (J.D. ’77) and the family of Arthur Stoup, an outdoor contemplative space/garden outside the south entrance facing 52nd street. May 05, 2021

  • Leading the Way

    A School of Law alumni conversation on race, equity and where we go from here
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. The police killing of George Floyd in May 2020 shocked the nation and reignited the call to end the systemic racism that has permeated our country for decades. It also renewed conversations among attorneys — for whom upholding justice isn’t simply a goal, but a sworn oath — about what important lessons the law community can learn from the Black Lives Matter movement. We sat in on one such conversation between three UMKC School of Law graduates who have all gone on to fight systemic racism in their own ways. They covered a vast array of topics — far too many to include here — but with a common thread: No matter where your law career has taken you, there is always work to be done to fight racial injustice. Often, attorneys are uniquely positioned to lead the way. Meet the alumni Adrienne B. Haynes Adrienne B. Haynes (J.D. ’13) Adrienne B. Haynes is the managing partner of SEED Law, a boutique business law firm, and owner of SEED Collective, a consultancy. She is also the founder and president of the Multicultural Business Coalition and president of the Black Female Attorneys Network. Haynes has been honored by the Kansas City Business Journal, Kauffman Foundation, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for her entrepreneurship and advocacy work.   Kendall Seal Kendall Seal (J.D. ’08) Kendall Seal is director of advocacy for the ACLU of Kansas and an adjunct professor at the UMKC School of Law. He previously served as Vice President and General Counsel for the Women’s Foundation and a lawyer for Legal Aid of Western Missouri. Following civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Seal served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – State Advisory Committee, which investigated the intersection of civil rights concerns and law enforcement practices over two years. He specializes in domestic violence and human trafficking law.   Shaun Stallworth Shaun Stallworth (J.D. ’08) Shaun Stallworth is a civil rights attorney with Holman Schiavone, LLC. He recently completed a two-year term as president of the Jackson County Bar Association, one of the oldest associations in the region for Black attorneys. He has also worked with Freedom, Incorporated, a political organization that advocates for African Americans, and serves on the Kansas City Police Accountability Task Force. He has represented Black Lives Matters protesters pro bono, and recently joined a project by UMKC Dean Emerita Ellen Y. Suni to help people clear their criminal records in order to find employment. On why racial justice should matter to all attorneys Shaun Stallworth: We have to decide, what type of country do we want to be? Are we going to be an eyes-wide-open country, or are we going to close our eyes and act like if we just wish it, it will improve? We have to take proactive steps to make sure it’s happening. Adrienne B. Haynes: For me, as I grow, I’ve been working to really train that muscle of what it means to be a systems thinker, because I don’t think it’s just assumed or normal. For me, there are these three core competencies that help me understand what systems thinking means and how I can keep this perspective in my work: the ability to see the larger system, the capacity to foster reflection and conversation, and then, ultimately, the ability to shift from reactive problem solving to co-creation of the future. I think if you start with those, it allows us to look at the issue with a more proactive perspective and pull some action items out of that. Kendall Seal: Law schools — and higher education in general — really need to dedicate themselves to eradicating white supremacy in our society. I don’t think it’s enough to say we’re working toward justice. Law students have to be ready to meet the moment, and we’re doing them a disservice if we’re not making these conversations fundamental to their studies. And white folks need to listen more. They need to learn when to step back and when to step up. “One of the things I’m reminded of is the state motto of Missouri, which says, ‘let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.’ Conversations about racial justice and equity and fairness go hand in hand with that.” — Adrienne B. Haynes On the art of listening and unlearning ABH: Kendall, because this is going in a law school magazine, I think we should talk about that. How do you think law schools can even address that? Is it a class? Because I did notice in law school I came in wanting to be a public servant, but sometimes law school can become less about the people and get away from the real heart of the work. KS: One of the best classes I had in law school was actually on listening. As lawyers, so much of the job is having the answer and trying to know everything. Maybe we can find ways in our legal education to help students and practitioners be more comfortable not “knowing everything” and creating opportunities for conversation and exploration. Whether that is experiential learning or in the classroom, we should be incredibly intentional. You should not graduate law school without tackling issues of systemic racism in the legal system and society. ABH: You’re right, for there to be real change, it’s not a class — an elective makes it feel optional, so you’re right, it needs to be entrenched into the system. SS: When Kendall and I started law school in 2005, there were roughly 200 people in our first-year class and only four Black people. When I was in Constitutional Law and we talked about Plessy v. Ferguson and separate but equal, people would ask me, “Well how do you feel about that?” And there’s this thought that Black folks are supposed to act as the monolith for all things Black because you’re the only Black person in the room. That is a difficult situation for a lot of people of color, whether you’re in the classroom, the boardroom, the office, the neighborhood meeting. I tie that back to the listening aspect that Kendall mentioned. Listening can go a long way — listening to why a person of color might feel out of place. ABH: Things like listening and failure, those soft skills, we don’t necessarily learn or talk about them directly in law school. In my own practice, there’s an expectation that I have the answers. And in our consultations we let people know — just training people away from that. KS: To change we have to unlearn and do things differently. We have to be honest, and I don’t know that as a profession we’re always completely honest about our shortcomings and where we have work to do. “In our role as attorneys, you have an obligation to be a change-maker, even if you’re working in a corporate setting. You can still make a difference and assist people.” - Shaun Stallworth On fighting systemic racism from every seat ABH: No matter what practice area you work in, we all have to be self-reflective. If a year into the pandemic you’re an attorney wondering, “how do I help?”, you don’t have the right friends around you. ... Life is short, and we’ve got to use our time well, especially those of us who have a privilege like a law degree. Law school doesn’t necessarily make you a lawyer, it teaches you how to think — you’ll hear that all the time. As attorneys, to not see what’s going on in the world is to purposely not see it.  SS: Adrienne said a word that stood out to me: self-reflective. … What we have to do is acknowledge that people don’t always know racism when they see it. We have to be prepared to step up and say, “Could I be biased in this situation? I don’t mean to, I’m not a racist, but could I have an implicit bias I didn’t realize that I have?” It’s easy to point out when someone says the n-word, “oh that’s terrible, oh my gosh!” Right? That’s obvious. The difficult part is on the base level to be self-reflective and acknowledge, “it might be me.”  KS: White folks who are silent are complicit in this problem. That needs to be really clear, from my perspective. If you’re doing nothing, then you’re part of the problem. ABH: We know these things take courage and unlearning. I’m in a Facebook group with women who run practices all over the world, and last week someone posted, “Oh my god, I’m sitting in court and the judge just discriminated against my client!” And she sits there, complicitly, and posts about it in the group afterward. If you feel something’s not quite right, you have to say something. And it does take courage. SS: Kendall talked about people being silent. There was an uncomfortable situation in court just the other year, and there was another attorney in the courtroom who followed me out and said, “Man, that was terrible.” And it made me think, yeah, you’re saying it to me, but would you say something to the judge? Because as awkward as you would feel saying something to him, imagine how awkward I felt being up there having it said to me. ABH: It reiterates for me the importance of black judges and diverse team members in all posts of the court, because otherwise you don’t have that advocacy. SS: You don’t have to be saying the n-word or some derogatory term to have a bias in what you’re doing, even if you don’t realize it. And we should have a conversation about that. Food for thought. KS: It’s empathy. People laugh at it sometimes, but I think we have to teach empathy. It has to be fundamental to what we’re doing, too. The appointments to the bench — that’s also a place of hope. The law can change, and lawyers can be part of the solution. It can be positive and it can be a better story. “We gave this oath to support the Constitution and to practice law, ‘with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed.’ Sometimes we gloss over those words. But with the expensive paper comes a duty. I hope we do right by it and one another.” - Kendall Seal Closing thoughts ABH: I just would remind people to stay connected to the law school and those students. The things that they’re unlearning — let’s try to lovingly teach them that and be examples. Let’s change the perception of an attorney from the shark on TV to someone who’s more compassionate, a community member, someone who’s really self-aware and reflective — the best of us. SS: In our role as attorneys, you have an obligation to be a change-maker, even if you’re working in a corporate setting. Even if you’re working at one of the largest law firms. You can still make a difference and assist people. Adrienne talked about that oath we took when we first became attorneys — remember that. Get involved, stay involved, and spend some of your time to try and assist others. KS: We gave this oath to support the Constitution and to practice law, “with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed.” Sometimes we gloss over those words. We got sworn in, we took the picture, and we’ve got expensive paper on our wall. But with the expensive paper comes a duty. I hope we do right by it and one another. May 05, 2021

  • Human Rights Hero

    Mekebib Solomon (J.D. ’20) has earned his law degree twice, in two different countries. That’s not the most interesting thing about him.
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. In his home country Ethiopia, Mekebib Solomon was a successful practicing attorney and judge — until he drew the attention of government officials who wanted him to convict political dissidents who had not received due process. Growing pressure to comply and fear for his safety brought him to the United States, where his story has been far different than those in his homeland. “My father is a factory worker and my mother works in an office,” Solomon says of his parents who still live in Ethiopia. “They didn’t have an education, but they paid for me and my brother to go to private school. We had the best education available in my home country.” Solomon studied hard and decided to study law. He graduated from Addis Ababa University School of Law and Governance with an LLB degree and was eventually appointed as a federal judge in the district court. On the bench, Solomon was responsible for reviewing cases of people who were imprisoned without due process. “I left everything and fled to neighboring Kenya to save myself from unlawful arrest and prosecution.” - Mekebib Solomon “People were arrested because of their affiliation to parties that opposed the government,” he says. “Many were human rights activists who were reporting violations … Despite the threat and pressure from government officials, I released people because no charges had been filed against them and there was no legal ground to imprison them indefinitely.” As political unrest mounted in Ethiopia, the government was also putting pressure on Solomon to fall in line. “My parents taught me to respect myself and others, and most of all to stand for truth and for what is right no matter what. I did not want to be enslaved and be a puppet for someone else. In law school I learned to be fair to all and to administer the law equally, without corruption, favor, greed or prejudice, so that is what I did.” The government dismissed Solomon from his job and expelled him from the bench. He then started to teach at a law school and also became a human rights advocate reporting government atrocities to the public and international organizations. He knew that it would not be long before he was arrested. “I left everything and fled to neighboring Kenya to save myself from unlawful arrest and prosecution,” he says. In Kenya, Solomon became an advocate for refugees like him, who fled their country to save their lives. He worked as volunteer refugee coordinator, helping refugees complete asylum applications and make their cases to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other institutions. In 2013, he was granted asylum and came to the United States as a refugee. What was a seemingly wonderful opportunity also came with challenges — namely, that he had to go to law school and get a juris doctor to be a lawyer once again. “I had been a lawyer at the peak of my profession, and I had to start over.” A new beginning Solomon settled in Kansas City and joined the paralegal program at Johnson County Community College. He also began working with Gregg Lombardi at Neighborhood Legal Support (NLS), helping to improve neighborhoods in the urban core. “At NLS we believed that the best solutions for neighborhood problems come from the neighborhood,” Solomon says. “Our goal is to empower urban core neighborhoods and give them the legal tools they need to solve their own problems. One way we do this is by clearing titles on abandoned and blighted urban core properties, so the properties can be turned into good-quality housing.” Lombardi was amazed at Solomon’s humility and resilience. “He was a respected judge in Ethiopia who was forced out of office because he wrote an opinion upholding the basic civil rights of detainees. He paid a horrible price for that simple act of courage,” Lombardi says. “He worked for years at a Walmart just to get back on his feet while he volunteered with us.” Lombardi encouraged Solomon to go back to school — again — to get his juris doctorate. “Gregg was always saying, ‘You should be a lawyer,’” Solomon says. “So, I was accepted to UMKC and earned my LL.M. and was able to transfer to the J.D. program.” Many of Solomon’s friends thought law school would be too much of a strain. He’d gotten married in June, was going to school and working. Still, he was undeterred. “I was the first person in the parking lot and the last to leave while in law school. I had to be extremely focused and dedicated in my studies because there were a lot obstacles that stood before me,” he says. “I’m not a conventional law student.” Based on these convictions, Solomon was able to perform exceptionally in and outside the classroom. Solomon received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his excellent achievement in the study of constitutional law in Spring 2019. While in law school, Solomon was chosen to take part in competitive internship programs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice. He also worked as a student assistant for the UMKC International Program and as a seasonal tax law analyst for H&R Block. And for a year, Solomon served as a Diversity Ambassador for the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Solomon met Associate Professor Timothy Lynch in his contracts class. The two connected after an impromptu and extended lunch close to campus. Solomon now considers Lynch a valuable mentor. “He’s a brilliant person and his story made me particularly impressed with him,” Lynch says. “He was able to contribute so much to the class discussion since he had these intense personal experiences with these areas of immigration law. He’s one of my favorite students of all time.” Solomon was in the final year of his law school studies when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The relationships that he had formed with students and faculty were valuable. “Imagine how difficult it was to switch to virtual classes and prepare for the bar exam during a pandemic,” he says. “But I told myself, ‘I’ve been through so much and still had the grit to do this.’ We were advised that it would be better to postpone the bar exam considering the disruption created by COVID-19 … no more postponing.” Barbara Glesner Fines, dean of the School of Law, knew Solomon would be an exceptional student — not only because of his performance, but because of the challenges he’d overcome. “Mekebib was in my lawyering skills class,” Glesner Fines says. “I knew something about his background, so when he spoke in class or in his written assignments, I would hear his statements through the lens of knowing that he had literally put his life on the line using these legal skills advancing human rights.” She notes that it’s not unusual to hear students or other people talk about law school as something separate from “the real world.” “But by his very presence in my class, Mekebib inspired us to always remember that the law school classroom is the real world,” she says. “It’s where we learn the skills, knowledge and values that can make the difference for an entire career.” Solomon credits his resilience to his parents’ example. “My dad worked hard in the factory. He never gave up on us. He taught us that if you do something to the best of your ability, you will have peace of mind.” Solomon’s father was able to see him graduate from law school and he was also present for the swearing-in ceremony when Solomon was admitted to the Missouri Bar. “That was the moment that they could see that I did this. I deserve this,” Solomon says. “Seeing the eyes of Dean Glesner Fines and hearing her say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ that’s rewarding. This is what people need to know. You lead with examples … I had all the odds against me, but I succeeded.” A promising future built on a tumultuous past Solomon’s success didn’t end with graduation. After graduating, he was a recipient of the Truman Fellowship for the Tenant Initiative. Solomon represented local tenants facing eviction during the pandemic. And in January 2021, he moved to Virginia to work for the Walton Law Group LLC, a small law firm located in Fort Washington, Maryland. Solomon’s practice area includes immigration and tax law. “There’s a large Ethiopian population in the DMV area, and they have a lot of immigration cases that need help,” he says. Solomon says his long-term plan is not very different than his current reality — just bigger: “I’d like to form a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping refugees. Every case is different … We don’t need to label refugees as bad people.” Solomon hopes that in his work people will see him and think, “If he can be a lawyer — if he can succeed — so can I.” Dean Glesner Fines is certain they will. “Mekebib is characteristically modest, but I know he will make a tremendous difference in the lives of his clients and the legal system around him,” she says. “He is a courageous, skilled and compassionate advocate. He will be a powerful force for empowering his clients.” May 05, 2021

  • Truman Fellows Program Fills Gap

    Provides Opportunity for New Graduates and the Community
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. When it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be a long-term challenge, the School of Law was left with its own challenge: how to continue its mission of supporting students and the community during a global pandemic. One key part of that response has been the Truman Fellows program, instituted in Fall 2020. This new initiative fills two key roles: Providing jobs for recent law alumni, some of whom have had difficulty securing jobs due to the pandemic Supporting community members with their legal needs, especially those that have been caused or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic The program — named after President Harry S. Truman, who attended the Kansas City School of Law from 1923 to 1925 — was launched with a $25,000 grant from the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This initial grant enabled a cohort of four fellows to be placed in the School of Law’s Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic, Tax Clinic, Self-Help Legal Clinic and Digital Initiatives team. Together, this group assisted small business owners applying for emergency federal funding, helped community members navigate pandemic-related tax issues and worked with the State of Kansas to develop an online system for domestic violence victims to obtain restraining orders while courts were closed. Additional support from United Way established the Tenant Representation Initiative, allowing an additional four fellows to work solely on keeping clients in their homes during the pandemic. Jeffrey Thomas — associate dean for strategic initiatives and graduate programs, Daniel L. Brenner faculty scholar and a professor of law — helped set up the Truman Fellows program. He says this work is especially important today because many pandemic relief efforts have a legal element. A great example, he says, is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary halt on evictions instituted in September 2020. To be protected, tenants need to fill out a form and serve it to their landlord, which the landlord can then dispute in court. At this point, the tenant needs a lawyer. That’s where the Truman Fellows can step in. “There’s this solution out there — the moratorium on evictions — but the solution requires some legal knowledge and assistance, and we can play a role that way,” he says. David White, a visiting professor and of counsel at Foland, Wickens, Roper, Hofer and Crawford, P.C., oversees the Tenant Representation Initiative. He says what started as an eviction project eventually grew into something broader. “Because of the pandemic, the folks that are in these service industry jobs aren’t able to go to work, and so as a result they don’t have income,” he says. “For some of them it has been a tipping point for them both emotionally and mentally — if your housing is unstable, it throws everything off.” Adjunct Clinical Professor Brian Larios, who also assists with tenant representation, says the impact he is able to make alongside the fellows is particularly profound. “So many of the clients we represent are at the doorstep of desperation. They have nowhere else to turn,” he says. “To literally see their tears of joy as they realize the assistance that we will be able to provide is incredibly rewarding.” Working with United Way, the School of Law has been able to secure funding for an additional cohort of fellows in early 2021 that will continue to focus on eviction work. This will become increasingly important, Thomas says, whenever the CDC discontinues its temporary halt on evictions. Larios says the work of the Truman Fellows — who so far have assisted more than 218 people with their eviction cases — is directly in line with the Law School’s mission. “The work we have done has provided security to families who would otherwise have become homeless,” he says. “The impact on those lives is immeasurable.” May 05, 2021

  • Law and (Virtual) Order

    As court proceedings move online, judges lean into new technologies and procedures to ensure a fair hearing for all who appear
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Judge Anne J. (Daddario) LaBella (J.D. ’92) was astonished to see such a large institution shift to online operations literally overnight. Judge Anne (Daddario) LaBella “If you would have told me one year ago that our courthouse would close to the public when we were seeing upwards of 2,000 cases per day, I would have never believed it,” says Judge LaBella of the 16th Judicial Court of Missouri. “In the old days, just closing dockets for a snow day was a historic occasion.” And yet, the courts never really closed. Hearings held during the pandemic, totaling tens of thousands in the Kansas City Circuit Court and close to 250,000 in the Municipal Court, were a constant intersection of legal reasoning, institutional integrity and technological know-how. Each hearing dealt in real time: attorneys juggling childcare amid a hearing, staff fielding constant technical issues and, yes, some litigants participating in hearings while ordering fast food in the drive-thru. Judge David M. Byrn (J.D. ’81), who serves as presiding judge of the 16th Circuit Court, helped lead a staff of 700, spread out through the metro area, to move court online. For him, logistics were the biggest concern — training staff on WebEx and ensuring everyone, from law clerks to records staff, could work remotely — along with keeping some semblance of a traditional hearing. “All the process and procedures are the same: rules of evidence, due process, objections,” Byrn says. “It’s just a different way to do it.” “If you would have told me one year ago that our courthouse would close to the public when we were seeing upwards of 2,000 cases per day, I would have never believed it.” - Judge Anne J. (Daddario) LaBella (J.D. '92)   Judge David Byrn Judges were the crucial force in keeping everything running smoothly in their respective courtrooms. That meant repeating questions and answers when an attorney on WebEx couldn’t hear the attorney who was in person or coordinating with attorneys on scanning and email exhibits before hearings. It also meant telling attorneys they were on mute. Often.  Judge Jessica Agnelly (J.D. ’05), appointed as an associate circuit judge in August 2020, had the unique experience of being both a practicing attorney and a judge last year. “If anything, I had the experience of waiting in a virtual waiting room for a really long time before my case was called, wondering ‘Have I done this right? Am I in the right place?’” Agnelly says. Virtual hearings aren’t new, but the increase in scope brought new questions for judges. Byrn says: “If you look at the court in general, courts are probably slow to change and slow to embrace change, which I would suggest is a good thing because the consistency of the courts is not necessarily responding to the back-and-forth changes that you oftentimes see in society. I think it makes the courts serve as the backbone of our democracy.” But the courts did support adaptation. He noted rulings by the Missouri Supreme Court, which embraced virtual technology and acknowledged that due process rights are fully protected by video conference and teleconference. Judge Jessica Agnelly Practically speaking, some aspects of hearings are very difficult to do online. Jury trials, by and large, are too difficult to hold virtually without violating due process or keeping a jury engaged. Agnelly says she’s hesitant to have preliminary criminal hearings virtually because it can impede defendants’ rights to confront witnesses at trial. At the municipal level, some virtual hearings can be more challenging. LaBella says specialty dockets in domestic violence court, drug treatment court and mental health treatment court are extremely difficult to conduct virtually because many defendants don’t appear. The reasons vary: unfamiliarity with technology, forgetfulness or because the court cannot issue warrants for failure to appear virtually. Still, Byrn, LaBella and Agnelly say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It saves attorneys travel time and money if they don’t have to drive to the courthouse for a 15-minute hearing. Virtual hearings have helped pro-se litigants, providing them more opportunities to appear and be heard. And it has allowed judges and attorneys alike to work and raise children. When she was still a practicing attorney, Agnelly was a part of hearings while homeschooling her daughter. “I would panic that my daughter would interrupt at the wrong time and the judge would be so angry,” Agnelly says. As a judge, “I make it a point to be as understanding as possible.” Most importantly, Byrn says that as the pandemic eases and a new normal takes hold, it will provide something crucial for all who come before judges: “better access to justice.” May 05, 2021

  • A Kansas City Historian Explains the Origins of Cinco de Mayo

    Flatland interviews Sandra Enriquez
    Sandra Enriquez, assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed for this story. Read the article. May 05, 2021

  • Women Supporting Women

    UMKC law alumnae instrumental in creating scholarship for aspiring women lawyers
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. “I still get choked up when I talk about it.” Teghan Groff For Teghan Groff (J.D. ’23), a full-tuition scholarship to the UMKC School of Law means having the freedom to pursue her true passion. “If you want to go into criminal defense and public interest, like I do, you’re not looking at paying back debt very quickly,” says Groff. “Help like this means so much, especially when you’re paying for school on your own.” Groff is the first recipient of a new scholarship offered by the UMKC Law School in partnership with the Association for Women Lawyers Foundation (AWLF). The AWLF will contribute $10,000 annually for three years, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Law School, resulting in a full-tuition scholarship for a first-year, female law student pursuing a juris doctorate. Recipients must demonstrate leadership skills and excel academically. Mira Mdivani Two Law School alumnae, Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) and Athena Dickson (J.D. ’03), both former presidents of the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City (AWLKC), helped make the scholarship a reality, along with Dean Barbara Glesner Fines and AWLF leadership. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to truly change someone’s life?” says Mdivani, a business immigration attorney with the Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm in Overland Park, Kansas, and the recipient of the 2020 UMKC School of Law Alumni Achievement Award. The answer was simple: to enable a remarkable woman to attend law school without the burden of student debt, particularly someone who may not have the chance to become a lawyer otherwise. Athena Dickson “It’s us saying, ‘We believe in you, and here’s a full scholarship to show that,’” says Dickson, a personal injury and employment discrimination attorney for Siro Smith Dickson PC in Kansas City, Missouri. Dickson and Mdivani got involved with the AWLKC after graduating from UMKC Law School. The organization connected them to female colleagues with valuable advice about navigating the traditionally male-dominated field of law. Now, both women want to pay it forward by mentoring and offering support to other young women. “I can tell a difference compared to when I first started out,” says Dickson of her experience as a female lawyer. “Women still have a harder time, but it feels like I’m treated better, and I think some of that is directly related to the legal profession working toward gender equality.” Still, there is more work to be done to achieve equality in law and the U.S. workforce as a whole. “Women make less money than men, do more busy work for businesses and families, and often don’t have the same opportunities as men,” says Mdivani. She says that’s one reason why it’s so important to support education for aspiring women lawyers like Groff, because they can influence policies and laws to combat inequality and “make life better for everyone.” Groff, who began studying at the UMKC School of Law last summer after graduating from Fort Hays State University, wants to focus her efforts on tackling inequity in the criminal justice system. “I thought I wanted to be a prosecutor, but then I realized how much of a mess the system is and how intimidating it can be for clients,” says Groff. “I want to be a helping hand through that, so I switched to criminal defense.” Once she started talking to professors and fellow students, Groff knew the UMKC Law School was the ideal place to make that happen. “I just said, ‘OK, this is it,’ and I haven’t been disappointed.” May 05, 2021

  • Splitsy Takes Top Prize in Regnier Challenge, Adding to Emerging Fintech Startup’s Spring Bump

    Startland News reports on Regnier Venture Creation Challenge
    The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge doled out more than $65,000 in cash prizes to emerging startups this spring, culminating in Friday’s big win for an up-and-coming fintech app. The annual UMKC contest came to a close last week after its second virtual showing in the COVID-era. Read more. May 04, 2021

  • Entrepreneur Magazine Interviews UMKC Professor

    George S. Thompson weighs-in on Steve Jobs' most famous speech
    George S. Thompson, M.D., a psychiatrist and associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says that “we’re sending signals to each other constantly demonstrating whether we’re safe or we’re in danger.” He then goes on to say that being in a state of fight or flight is of particular social significance. Read the full article. May 03, 2021

  • Paying Internships In Kansas City

    KCUR interviews student about internship experience
    Bryce Graskemper, HireKC intern, UMKC student and Marine Corps veteran, was a guest on Up to Date. Apr 30, 2021