How This Freshman Made Key Career Contacts in First Semester

Colton Stewart is already meeting potential future employers through UMKC Professional Career Escalators
Student Colton Stwart meets with staff member Lynne O'Dell

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Colton Stewart
Anticipated graduation: 2026
Academic Program:  law and justice track, Professional Career Escalators
Hometown: St. Louis

Colton Stewart understood early on the value of networking and making connections to long- term career success.

When he learned that such connections are one of the primary benefits of a new university program, he made the cross-state leap from St. Louis to Kansas City to pursue his career in criminal justice.

Stewart enrolled in the Professional Career Escalators program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a comprehensive career-development program designed to propel students from their academic studies to high-paying careers by providing a dedicated, GPS-guided path from enrollment to workforce.

It didn’t take long for the program to deliver.

“I am being connected to opportunities I had no clue existed, like a huge police job fair which granted me the opportunity to speak with many police departments as well as FBI, ATF and the Missouri State Highway Patrol,” Stewart said. “The Professional Career Escalators might also connect me to a paid police internship this summer, so the benefits of the program are extensive.”

The Professional Career Escalators program is a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services unlike anything being offered across the U.S. It prepares students for careers in four key areas of workforce demand: law and justice, engineering and business, education and health care.

Each semester, students participate in the five Professional Career Escalators core experiences: career guidance and development; experiential learning opportunities (such as job shadowing and internships); mentoring with faculty experts and community professionals; graduate and professional school preparation; and leadership development.

“UMKC has amazing connections to Kansas City and to the law enforcement field, so they can easily get their students paired to careers and opportunities,” Stewart said.

Why did you choose your field of study?

I chose criminal justice and criminology because it had been something I wanted to do since I was a kid. That is how I was sure I wanted to choose it.

How has your college program inspired you?

My program has inspired me to consider the impact of my field, and show me the value of doing what few people want to do.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that some of the things I once valued so highly had no real value nor meaning. I learned to focus on the matters that will genuinely benefit me or those I care about, rather than attach myself to trivial matters

Are you a first-generation college student?

Yes. It means a lot to me. It means that I can do much more than my family before me and give much more to the family after me. It means that I have accomplished a great deal in the family as well, and that I am making a name for us.

Do you have any scholarships?

I have multiple scholarships. One for the Professional Career Escalators program, one for being a first-generation college student and one for being multiracial. They mean a great deal to me because they made me feel secure and accomplished.

What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC?

I am in Enactus, UMKC Men of Color, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Inter-Fraternity Council and the FBI Academy.



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