Campus Notes

No argument: Drury’s debate program among the best in the nation

Drury University’s debate team is making national waves in its inaugural season.

Bringing back a tradition at Drury that dates back to the late 1800s, the debate program was re-established in 2016 after a hiatus as part of the university’s ongoing multi-faceted strategy to attract and retain great students.

The International Public Debate Association (IPDA) ranks individual debaters and university debate programs on a weekly basis.  As a program, Drury is currently ranked 1st in the nation for having more varsity team points than any of the other participating schools. Additionally, Drury has had “top five” finishers in both individual and team competition at most of its tournaments.

Though they are not all freshmen, all of Drury’s debaters are in their first year of college debate competition. The squad may be new, but it quickly formed a culture of high achievement, teamwork and trust in one another, says debate coach Dr. Charles Deberry.

DU Debate Union

“Chemistry is everything,” Deberry says. “We have a lot of diversity in terms of the students’ backgrounds and areas of study on the team. I think that’s been a key element in our success because the topics cover a wide spectrum, from international economics to whether the Patriots are the best team in the NFL, and you don’t know what the topic will be before going into the debate.”

Drury’s team participates in a relatively new debate league that stresses civil discourse rather than highly technical strategies and oral speed-reading seen in some collegiate leagues. Formed in 1997, the IDPA emphasizes critical thinking, civil discourse, logic, creativity, and real-world persuasion skills. The league is growing with more than 120 colleges in 28 states in the southeast, Midwest and west coast.

The IPDA’s format gives student debaters a list of five topics to choose from before the debate begins. The two individuals or teams take turns striking topics until one is left. A coin flip determines who takes a “pro” or “con” position. Each side has 20 minutes to prepare for the debates, which last about 30 minutes for individuals and an hour for teams.

“It’s really a great capstone for a liberal arts education,” Deberry says. “To be successful in this format you have a broad knowledge of a variety of topics and then be able to think critically and express yourself clearly.”

“The Debate Union provides a community for intelligent students to not only debate, but have an environment where they thrive, socially and intellectually,” says Austin Cassity, a senior from Springfield.

Lindsay Duede, a freshman from Ozark, says the opportunity to debate is what led her to make the decision to attend Drury over other schools on her list of choices.

“Debate was my everything in high school and it still is,” she says. “I applied to a lot of schools and was accepted at a lot of places. Not all of them had debate or the type of debate that interested me. When I met with Dr. Deberry and he told me what DU was up to, I immediately wanted to be a part of that action. Debate is why I am proud to be a Panther.”

Not all of the debaters are freshmen. Mallory Pinson is a sophomore from Liberty, Missouri, who says debate has helped her find niche at Drury.

“I came here before Drury had the debate program in full operation, therefore it was not a big motivator for my coming to Drury, but it is definitely what will keep me here,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to continue the activity. I am so happy to be able to be able to participate the Drury Debate Union.”

The 2016-17 Drury debate team members include Mallory Pinson, Ameran Link, Kris Rose, Lindsay Duede, Austin Cassity, Jerrica Shine, Emily Collier, Kat Sittenauer, Erin Benedict, Ayesha Naqi and Haley Davis.

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Drury grad turns passion for design, business and travel into career

By Jessie Roller

A master’s degree in business, another master’s degree in architecture, plus a passion for travel led 2013 Drury graduate Danny Collins to become a successful entrepreneur, launching his new company, Project Latitude, at age 28.

While at Drury, the Springfield native earned his undergraduate degree and both master’s degrees all in six years – no easy task given the rigorous nature of the programs. He recently returned to Drury to speak to business and architecture students about his ever-changing career path.

After graduation, Collins landed a job at an architecture firm in New York City. After working there three years, he realized the corporate world of architecture just wasn’t for him and he began forming the idea of combining the two passions in his life, architecture and travel, into what became Project Latitude.

Collins in Guatemala with the Waxpi duffle bag.

Collins in Guatemala with the Waxpi duffle bag.

“I’ve always been a person that desired to be a larger part of something small rather than a small part of something large,” Collins says. “I am a firm believer in passion in the workplace and the concept of living to work not simply working to live.”

Collins founded Project Latitude with his partner and friend, Javier Roig. Its products fund needed improvements in small towns and communities within Latin America, and potentially around the world. Each unique product is solely created in these communities, with earnings going back into the communities funding needs such as infrastructure improvements. Volunteers who travel to the community do much of the physical work.

Project Latitude has seen initial success with its first project and product: the Chaski backpack made in Ecuador. It began as a crowd-funded project on Kickstarter. A second product, the Waxpi duffle bag, is also made in Ecuador.

Collins describes the brand identity as “the urban adventurer.”

Danny Collins

“These will be items for the person who has an office job from 9-to-5, but also likes to get out and do some exploring,” he says. The products will continue to be made and produce revenue for its community even after the Project Latitude team of volunteers complete their improvements.

Collins attributes much of his success to Drury. “The liberal arts program was very fitting for someone like me,” he says, “where I could learn what it was that I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to go straight in having no other choices than the degree I had chosen.”

In addition to tackling two master’s degrees while in school, Collins was also a member of the men’s soccer team and was involved in the vibrant everyday life Drury offers. He says that intense blend of opportunities led to his desire to combine many different concepts into one career — which was really the underlying idea of the company.

During his recent talk with Drury students, Collins encouraged them not to settle for just any job, but instead to go out and find what they truly love and then make it into a career.

He also advocated for all students, and people, to study business in some way.

“The world is a business and everything we do is a business, in some fashion or another,” he says.

The Chaski backpack

The Chaski backpack

Collins says his MBA has helped him immensely with his business, and in his personal life. His business knowledge has been helpful to him with issues such as mortgage agreements, for example, which is why he believes business education can benefit everyone, no matter their career.

Collins and Roig have big dreams for their company. They hope to one day have their own Project Latitude storefront, but for now they are working on placing products into existing retail stores, such as 5 Pound Apparel in Springfield (a boutique business started by another Drury graduate, Bryan Simpson). The goal is to sell about 50 percent of their products at retail and the other 50 percent on their own online platform.

But the true endgame is about more than sales.

“The goal for Project Latitude would never be to just sell products,” Collins says. “We want it to be a lifestyle brand and a lifestyle in a community of people who just want to do cool things and do some good while they’re doing it.”

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“Life Interrupted” explores history of WWII camps through dance & art

 

Xenophobia and perseverance. Isolation and equality.

Fear. Hope. Humanity.

Those are a few of the themes that will be explored through a rich mixture of panel discussions, an interactive art installation, and a dance performance as Drury University hosts the “Life Interrupted” program on campus and at the Drury on C-Street Gallery in early February.

“Life Interrupted” tells the story of the internment camps set up by the U.S. government to hold Japanese-Americans in the days and years following the 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and the nation’s subsequent entry into World War II. It explores themes that are as relevant today as they were seven decades ago as it examines the lives of those who were interned in the camps – including one not far from the Ozarks in Rohwer, Arkansas.

The project makes its way to Drury February 2 through 7, and will include public panel discussions, an interactive art installation by Drury students and a theatrical dance performance by the award winning CORE Performance Company of Atlanta and Houston at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, February 4. (Tickets are free but must be claimed – click here to do so.)

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It’s a personal story for Drury architecture professor Nancy Chikaraishi, whose parents were interned in Rohwer as young adults after being forced to move from their homes in California. Chikaraishi’s artwork is digitally projected during the performance and she is the visual arts collaborator on the project. She was instrumental in bringing “Life Interrupted” to Drury and is the lead organizer for the series of events.

“It’s a personal story because my parents experienced it, and my grandparents experienced it,” she says. “And I still meet people who have never heard of the camps, especially the ones in Arkansas. People don’t know it happened, and when they find out they’re really surprised. Surprised, then shocked that Americans did this to other Americans.”

The surprise and shock continues to resonate, Chikaraishi says, when we consider the historical parallels to today as issues such as a Muslim registry and ethnic profiling make headlines.

“It’s 75 years past and we’re still grappling with the same issues – fear of people we don’t know, fear of people who look different from us,” she says.

Chikaraishi first became involved with the “Life Interrupted” dance project through the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in Rohwer, in rural southeast Arkansas. Her original artwork, which was inspired by the stories her parents told her about the camps, was exhibited by the museum and caught the attention of Sue Schroeder, CORE’s artistic director. The dance performance is the project’s centerpiece and CORE has performed “Gaman,” the precursor to “Life Interrupted,” at the University of Central Arkansas and at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in northwest Arkansas.

Chikaraishi

Chikaraishi

“It’s a really powerful performance,” Chikaraishi says. “It’s amazing that an art form that doesn’t use words is able to process a historical event and express really deep emotions through movement and interaction.”

The series of events kicks off at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2 with a roundtable discussion featuring community leaders from NAACP, Grupo Latinoamericano, the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights, the Islamic Society of Joplin, and PROMO (Promoting Equality for All Missourians). On Friday, Feb. 3, CORE will conduct a dance workshop/story circle from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Drury on C-Street Gallery, followed by an art exhibit by Chikaraishi and the interactive art installation by Drury students from 6 to 8 p.m. Both exhibits will be part of the monthly First Friday Artwalk. The “Life Interrupted” dance performance is at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Wilhoit Theater on campus. Finally, a panel discussion on “Architecture, Space & Power” will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, also at the Drury on C-Street Gallery.

For Chikaraishi, the series of events will be a reminder of what her family went through those many years ago, and she hopes it will be just that – a reminder – for others as well.

“America is a place that is very open to others,” she says, “but we have to keep remembering that.”

This is project is supported in part by awards from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, Springfield Regional Arts Council and Community Foundation of the Ozarks, DoubleTree by Hilton, Nelson and Kelley Still Nichols, Colorgraphic Printing, Drury University, Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture and the L.E. Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship.

For more information, email Nancy Chikaraishi at nchikaraishi@drury.edu. You can view her artwork at www.nancychikaraishi.com. All of the events can be found on Drury’s D.Cal event calendar.

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Coding challenge tests skill, opens doors to job market

On the same day that Drury and Southwest Baptist universities went head-to-head on the basketball court in mid-November, two other groups of students were engaging in a different kind of rivalry in the classroom.

Each year, O’Reilly Auto Parts sponsors a hacking challenge between the two schools’ computer science departments. The event provides students hands-on experience solving problems within computer code, and it gives O’Reilly recruiters a chance to reach out to future talent. This year’s edition on the Drury campus saw teams of students examining code in a game of Tetris to find – and fix – various bugs.

“Our company is driven by technology,” says Ashley Warner, technical recruiter for O’Reilly. “We come out here to encourage the students to continue to pursue a career in the field, and hopefully they’ll remember we were here and they’ll think about careers at O’Reilly one day.”

Drury students (from left) Cory Harris, Kylie Pfaff and Sydney Stark work as a team to find and fix bugs in a video game application during a hacking challenge between Drury and SBU. O’Reilly Auto Parts sponsors the annual event as a way to connect to upcoming talent.

Drury students (from left) Cory Harris, Kylie Pfaff and Sydney Stark work as a team to find and fix bugs in a video game application during a hacking challenge between Drury and SBU. O’Reilly Auto Parts sponsors the annual event as a way to connect to upcoming talent.

Dane Wommack is a Drury senior who’s also currently an intern software developer at O’Reilly. He helped create the exercise and says these events help budding developers with problem solving skills.

“It helps you learn how to look at something,” he says. “It’s that ability to be able to take a problem and break it down into tiny sections.”

This was the first such experience for Ben High, a freshman computer science major at Drury. Though he’s been programming for six years already, he says the exercise helped him improve his ability to read and comprehend code written by others. He was on a team with two seniors, which was also a boon.

“I went for the experience but also to hang out with other programmers and be on the same level as people who are higher up in years,” he says.

A team of SBU students won the challenge, earning bragging rights and some Amazon gift certificates. Afterward, the students mingled and ate a catered dinner. They also participated in another short coding puzzle that came directly from O’Reilly’s corporate interview process.

The Drury-SBU rivalry is a great recruiting backdrop for O’Reilly, says Lori Newman, talent acquisition technical specialist with the company.

“We like problem solvers in our company and I think liberal arts colleges help develop those kinds of skills,” she says. “That’s huge for us from a human resources standpoint.”

Newman and Jeremy See, a software developer at O’Reilly, both praised the computer science programs at Drury and SBU.

“From a technical standpoint, the Drury interns that we get are at the top,” See says. “They are the most proficient and most efficient coders that we get. There’s apparently a pretty solid computer science program here because all of them are on their feet and running as soon as they get in the door.”

Nicholas Jaross, an applications development supervisor at O’Reilly, stressed the importance of keeping local talent pipelines open.

“When I went to school there was a prevailing idea that I’d have to move to Seattle, Silicon Valley or New York City to get a great job,” he says. “But there is a lot of technology here. You don’t have to leave. There’s a lot of great opportunity for wonderful careers right here in Springfield, Missouri.”

RELATED: Drury launches degree in game development

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The Beauty of Studying Abroad

Story by Jessie Roller 

A recent exhibit at the Drury University art gallery on Commercial Street celebrated Drury’s study abroad programs and the beauty students found in their experiences.

“Study Abroad: The Student View” featured photos that gave an inside look at the different study abroad experiences of more than a dozen Drury students. Students who study abroad say they learn about other people and cultures, but also frequently say they learn about themselves, too. About 40 percent of all Drury undergraduates study abroad during their college career.

“Aphrodite,” Aphrodite, Cyprus 2016, by Mohannad Almazroa.

“Aphrodite” – photo by Mohannad Almazroa taken in Cyprus, 2016.

Kashif Masoud, an architecture major, was heavily influenced by the rich history of the places he traveled to during his study abroad experience. Being able to experience the history that he had read about in the cities where it had occurred gave him a stronger sense of what it would have been like to live through.

“In some cases it was an eye opening experience to learn about the skill and workmanship of those times and in other cases it was a realization of how humans have developed and advanced their way of life,” he says.

Kashif’s three photos tell the stories of the places he traveled, really capturing the essence and history of these places, as well as observing their architectural importance and beauty.

“They shed light on the value of a study abroad trip that opens one’s minds to great works of architecture that have influenced the world,” he said.

"Boathouse" - photo by Kashif Masoud taken in Italy

“Boathouse” – photo by Kashif Masoud taken in Italy, 2016.

Trevor Cobb, a Spanish major, traveled to Ecuador last summer to experience Latin and South American culture first hand, rather than just learning about the culture from books, in a classroom. Living within a different culture had him constantly learning and adapting to new ways of life.

“Nothing ever felt boring or old,” he says.

He said that even the everyday things, like going to class or to a café, were exciting simply because he was on a different continent. Cobb’s photos reflect the different experiences and moods of his experience in Ecuador. They also include the people that made his trip even more memorable.

"Deer" - photo by Claire Lennard taken in Glencoe, Scottish Highlands, 2016.

“Deer” – photo by Claire Lennard taken in Glencoe, Scottish Highlands, 2016.

“One of the most surprising things about the trip is how close I got to the other students from Drury that I went on the trip with,” he says. “I expected to gain new knowledge and discover another culture, but I didn’t expect to make such great friends that I would keep at Drury. The photos of people helped me to capture memories that I can share with my peers.”

Ultimately, study abroad experiences are meant to broaden one’s perspective on the wider world. That is exactly what architecture major Yasmeen Al Tamimi (an international student from Kuwait) says her travels – and her photographs – are all about.

“My photos illustrate the wonderful things in this world,” she says. “It is to show that there is so much more to see.”

“History’s Imprint on Today” - photo by Karis Kononiuk, taken in Northern Ireland 2016.

“History’s Imprint on Today” – photo by Karis Kononiuk, taken in Northern Ireland 2016.

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Drury students offer veterans free portrait photos this month

Drury University photography students are again taking portraits of veterans and their families, free of charge, this November.

The project began several years ago as a way of giving back to those who have served our country while also allowing commercial photography students to hone their studio skills.

Jessica Barrows 2

Jessica Barrows and her two children

Abraham Clark, who was in the Marine Corps for 10 years in the 1960s and 70s and served in Vietnam, is a repeat customer – he’s been getting his photo taken by Drury students for a few years now.

“I’m about to run out of poses,” he jokes.

Clark says he finds the Drury students to be professional and kind. He enjoys getting to know them during the shoots, especially international students. He wishes more veterans would take up the opportunity.

Abraham Clark

Abraham Clark

“The thing about photos is they’re memories for families for a long time,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t do this, and then later the family doesn’t have anything to look back on. So I think it would be great if people took advantage of this for their families.”

The shoots begin on Saturday and run through next weekend. There are 50 slots available. Rebecca Miller is Drury’s Art, Art History & Arts Administration program chair and organizes the event, though students ultimately run the shoots.

“The students are on their own to take the photographs and solve any challenges that may come up like lighting, posing, energetic children, or even crying babies,” she says. “A lot of the time I’ll be working in my office making a family’s CD of the images and I hear a lot of laughter coming from the studio, which is always a wonderful moment. Many times I’ve stood outside the studio and just observed our students interacting with the community members and they always delight me with their abilities to solve problems, be professionals, and work together as a team.”

Cody Stepp was one of those students last year. He graduated in May with a degree in graphic design and visual communication. He says the candid shots in which veterans let some of their personality out were the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable.

“It helps engage you as a photographer because you’re investing in these people because they’re opening up a side of themselves to you,” Stepp says.

For example, Clark has worn Native American ceremonial clothing to reflect his heritage. Joe Snider, a 1953 Army draftee who served in Korea, sported a cowboy hat last year.

“That’s my uniform,” says Snider, who has family roots in rural Wyoming. “That’s what I wear. I’m a western man.”

Clark appreciates the opportunity for the portrait, but says he thinks the students get just as much out of the experience.

“Everybody has a different exposure, a different experience,” he says. “So I think it’s good when you put all of these people together. It’s good exposure for the kids.”

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Miller at rmiller01@drury.edu or (417) 873-6337.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

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Drury junior puts her powers of design to work at Marvel

Anne Marie Schudy doesn’t own a cape or wear spandex to the office, but she’s working with a cadre of super heroes during her summer internship with Marvel Entertainment in New York City.

Schudy, a visual communication and graphic design major from Drury, is working at the headquarters of the entertainment giant that created Spider-Man, X-Men, The Avengers and dozens of other comic book, movie and TV heroes.

She earned the gig on the strength of her student portfolio and an interview. Marvel was the first choice for the self-described “nerd” who’s a fan of the Marvel movies and TV shows.

“You never dream that a huge, worldwide company would pick you because there are so many applicants,” she says.

Schudy, who will be a junior this fall, is putting her skills to work in Marvel’s Creative Services Department, which guides and assists the vast universe of licensees that use Marvel’s intellectual property in some way.

Schudy works primarily with the comic books side of Marvel’s house, though she isn’t necessarily a comics geek herself.

“It’s not necessary for the job,” she says.

The job is creative, but it’s also technical. Photoshop and other design programs are her primary tools.

Anne Marie Schudy

“Essentially what they need is someone who knows the software really well,” she says.

Still, it’s certainly not your typical office environment.

“You just hear all these terms like ‘Thor’ and ‘Spider-Man’ thrown around on a daily basis. That’s fun. You don’t hear that in every workplace,” Schudy says with a laugh. “It’s just so fascinating to see; just to observe the work these people do. There’s an energy here.”

Leaks and spoilers are of the utmost concern when dealing with intellectual property in today’s high-stakes entertainment industry, so there’s a strict no-photos rule inside the workplace at Marvel. That means no Snapchats to friends and, unfortunately, no selfies with Iron Man for profile stories like this one, either.

The Marvel offices are located in Midtown Manhattan and Schudy lives in a dorm in a nearby university. She’s been able to soak up the sights and sounds of the city as a resident, rather than as a tourist, when she’s not at work.

It’s been quite a journey for the Springfield native who traveled just across the street from Central High School to Drury for college. Schudy says Drury was “always kind of an obvious choice for me” after her time in the academically rigorous International Baccelaurette program at Central.

“I felt Drury was kind of a continuation of that,” she says of the school’s wide-ranging liberal arts focus. “I was just lucky to have such a great college in my hometown.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Schudy plans to further broaden her academic horizons when she returns to Drury this fall. She’s as interested in coding and math as she is in visual design, and she plans to delve into some of the courses in Drury’s brand-new software engineering degree offering.

“This semester I’ll be exploring the computer science side of things,” she says.

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Drury student studies genetics thanks to selective national grant

Anna Brinck is getting the best of both worlds when it comes to science research as an undergraduate student.

As a junior majoring in chemistry, biology and Spanish at Drury, Brinck has been able to conduct research in an intimate, small-school setting with faculty mentors by her side. And this summer, she is getting the chance to take to the lab at a large research university – the University of Georgia – thanks to a program funded by the National Science Foundation.

Brinck is the latest Drury student to be selected for the highly competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. About a dozen Drury students have been selected for REU positions over the last three years.

Description: Drury University senior Chemistry, Biology, and Spanish major Anna Brinck of Nixa, Missouri working with a pipette at a bench in Genetics professor Allen Moore's lab at the Davison Life Sciences building. Brinck is taking part in Summer Undergraduate Fellowships in Genetics (SUNFIG), a national research program that places undergraduate science majors in large universities to work on summer research projects. Date of Photo: 6/28/2016 Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia Photographic Services File: 34013-058 The University of Georgia owns the rights to this image or has permission to redistribute this image. Permission to use this image is granted for internal UGA publications and promotions and for a one-time use for news purposes. Separate permission and payment of a fee is required to use any image for any other purpose, including but not limited to, commercial, advertising or illustrative purposes. Unauthorized use of any of these copyrighted photographs is unlawful and may subject the user to civil and criminal penalties. Possession of this image signifies agreement to all the terms described above.

Drury Chemistry, Biology, and Spanish major Anna Brinck working in a lab at UGA. Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia

The Nixa native is spending her summer conducting research on the behavior of beetles that bury carcasses beneath soil as a food source for their larvae during reproduction.

“My specific project is looking at burial depth of the carcass and different gene expressions and reproductive tradeoffs in the beetles that may differ in shallow burials versus deep burials,” says Brinck. “The general idea is correlating genetics with a variable of the burying behavior.”

The size and scope of the lab setting is much different than at Drury, Brinck says, but the fundamentals of research are the same. She says Drury prepared her well for the work she is doing this summer through REU. She’s been conducting research of some kind since her freshman year, mainly focusing on genetics.

“Drury is a place where almost anything you want to do is possible,” she says. “It’s a network of truly supportive peers, professors and other faculty and staff, so if you want to do a specific type of research, it can happen.”

When comparing her experience to other undergrads participating in REU projects, and even graduate students earning their Ph.D. at UGA, it’s clear to Brinck that she’s had more opportunities for meaningful research than many of her peers.

“They came from larger schools where you have to be an upperclassman to be considered for research or you have to know the right people in order to get into a lab group,” she says. “Since I have had a lot of research experience, I already have a basic research skill set that is extremely valuable.”

Previous Drury REU participants tell a similar story of being well prepared for the opportunity, yet coming away with an advanced level of experience and knowledge thanks to working in larger labs. Abby Delawder graduated from Drury this spring with a chemistry degree. She conducted medical research at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, in 2015 as an REU participant. Prior to that, she spent many hours in the labs of Drury’s Trustee Science Center working with chemistry professor Dr. Madhuri Manpadi.

“I was able to see a broad picture of how groundbreaking research at that particular level works and how my research in the future can benefit the entire community,” Delawder says of her time at Scripps.

Delawder heads to Washington University in St. Louis this fall, where she will begin work earning a doctorate in chemistry. Her goal: help find new ways to combat the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“I have Dr. Manpadi to thank for accepting me into her lab and teaching me valuable lessons, not only in the textbook but real-life applications of the text material,” she adds.

Brink at UGA2

Brinck, at UGA, says that in addition to those research skills, one of the underlying values Drury’s science faculty has taught her is curiosity.

“A lot of research is very tedious, so the desire to solve the questions puzzling you is a necessity to be successful,” she says. “The liberal arts experience has definitely given me the cognitive capabilities to be able to ask the right questions and to further my research curiosity. Every professor I have ever had at Drury has not only encouraged me to be curious, but have also been great examples of curious people themselves.”

Brinck wants to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and will be applying to graduate schools this coming year as she completes her studies at Drury.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Director of Media relations. 

Outstanding Drury seniors ready for next phase in life

Each year, Drury faculty and staff choose two people from the graduating senior class to honor as the Outstanding Senior Man and Woman of the Year. This annual tradition recognizes leadership ability, scholastic achievement, campus involvement and community involvement. The 2016 honorees are sociology and criminology major Allison Hebert and criminology major Austin Ross.

The pair answered a few questions about this honor before moving on to the next big phase of their lives.

Hebert and Ross 2

What does this recognition mean to you?

Ross: “To me this recognition means that I have lived the Drury experience; an experience that has let me be fully involved in my college experience and build lasting relationships with those I shared it with.”

Hebert: “It means a lot to me that the university I spent four years giving my time energy and life to has seen fit to give this back to me. It’s the culmination of the all the hard work over the years. I also know I’m not the only one deserving of the honor.”

How would you describe the class of 2016? Were you more studious or more fun loving?

Hebert: “I think most people would agree we balanced both aspects of life pretty well. We have some amazing people in our class who are going to go on and do incredible things, but we also have a class that knows how to have fun. We are capable of having memorable experiences outside the classroom even though we worked really hard in the classroom, too.”

What does it say about Drury that faculty and staff vote on this award each year?

Hebert: “Being at a college small enough that faculty and staff across campus know your name and what you do in the community is one of Drury’s biggest strengths, and I think that’s really demonstrated through this award.”

How do you feel about your time at Drury now that it’s over?

Ross: “It’s strange to think that the best four years of my life have come to an end. I’m sad to think I’ll never have the same experience again but I’d like to think that I will be involved with Drury and possibly other institutions of higher education in the future, using the tools Drury gave me to support those types of experiences for others.”

What is the biggest lesson or memory you’ll take with you?

Ross: “I learned a lot about how dedication and service reward those who work hard, especially when put towards the benefit of others. I will always regard my experiences with residence life, student organizations, the instrumental ensembles, and our Ultimate Frisbee team as the best times of my life.”

What’s next for you?

Ross: “I’m waiting to hear back on a job offer, but I will be working in Springfield for some time and keeping connected with the university while I begin to develop a career here. I would love to work for a government agency.”

Hebert: “I will move to Washington, D.C. in August to get my masters in justice, law and criminology at the American University School of Public Affairs. I want to get a J.D. or Ph.D. and pursue policy or research work in the criminal justice system.”

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Members of the Class of 2016 land jobs before graduation

When Ted Boland first arrived at Drury as a business student four years ago, he figured his most likely job path would be in the family real estate business in Washington, Missouri.

But after he graduates next week with a degree in finance, he’ll head to Bentonville, Arkansas, to work in Walmart’s corporate software department. He’s been able to breathe easy all year – he was offered the job last summer following an internship with Walmart.

“It was pretty interesting to walk out of there with my future laid out before me,” Boland says. “It almost felt too good to be true.”

Boland isn’t alone. Graduates from disciplines across the university often find the connections they make during internships, through engaged learning opportunities or with Drury alumni – not to mention their academic preparation – help them land fulfilling jobs after graduation.

Drury’s most recent annual survey of 2014-15 graduates found that nine out of 10 were either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. Of those who were employed, 89 percent described themselves as holding a professional position.

Left to right: Brandon White, Kelsey Pressnall and Ted Boland.

Left to right: Brandon White, Kelsey Pressnall and Ted Boland.

Kelsey Pressnall, who majored in theater and arts administration, has not one, but three jobs lined up for the next 15 months. She’ll be an arts administration intern and housing manager for a theater in Ohio, act on stage in West Virginia, and then work in an arts administration role at a theater in Lexington, Kentucky.

It’s not unusual for employment in her field to be more “gig” based than other fields.

“You have to be okay with change if you want to be successful in this field,” she says. “And I had several other offers, too, so it was nice to be able to choose the ones I liked.”

Bri Hopkins is also an arts administration major, but she’s headed for the corporate world as a recruiter with Global Insight in Kansas City. Recruiting is a passion she discovered as a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. A natural people person, she will soon assist Fortune 500 companies in finding and hiring high-quality employees.

“It’s not what I’d planned on doing, but if there’s anything that Drury has taught me it’s that when opportunity knocks you need to open the door,” she says. “Even though you plan things, sometimes there’s a different plan and you just have to go with it.”

Bri Hopkins

Bri Hopkins

Brandon White, an architecture major from Colorado, is staying in town. An internship and part-time role at Sapp Design Associates Architects will become a full-time job after he earns his five-year masters degree in architecture next week.

“It feels awesome,” he says of landing the job, and he credits Drury’s personalized atmosphere with helping him grow and thrive during his time as a student.

“The Hammons School of Architecture taught me how to be a good architect, but Drury really taught me how to be a good person,” he says. “Because of Drury’s size I was able to easily connect with friends, and I can also feel really comfortable with people I don’t even really know. It feels like a community, and it created an opportunity for me to grow.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.