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Learning to a Greater Degree Award Winners

Congratulations to Ashley Wellman and Mathew Martinez, the fall 2015 recipients of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

Learning to a Greater Degree graphic

UCM Feature Stories

Fashion and Merchandising Students help conduct fashion show for Gordmans

Students in the Fashion and Merchandising program pose for a photo after pulling off a successful fashion show for Gordmans.


Last fall, students in the Fashion and Merchandising program at UCM teamed up with midwestern department store, Gordmans, for a fashion show. Students volunteered as models, model assistants, back stage assistants, photographers and music coordinators, for a sneak peek into the fashion industry.

With help from their professors, students were fully engaged in the planning of the fashion show that took place Nov. 7, 2015 at Gordmans in Blue Springs, Missouri. Students in Lynn Alkire's Professional Image Management course were in charge of fitting and styling models in complete outfits for the runway.

"It takes team effort, organization and detailed planning for a fashion show to be successful," says Alkire, professor of Textiles and Clothing in Business. "That's what our students learned from this experience."

Many students were key show production assistants by managing show essentials behind stage. Quinn Ahrens, a freshman in Fashion Merchandising, served as a liaison between the announcers and the back stage crew.

"The fashion show helped prepare me for future jobs running fashion shows, coordinating outfits for models and other behind the scenes jobs," says Ahrens.

By gaining hands-on experience at a fashion show, these students are learning to a greater degree.

Ashley Wellman Receives Learning to a Greater Degree Award for Commitment to Engaging Students

Ashley Wellman (center), assistant professor of Criminal Justice accepts the Learning to a Greater Degree.


For Ashley Wellman, being an educator is more than just a job. Her infectious passion for teaching, learning and service led her to receive the Learning to a Greater Degree award for fall 2015.

"Observing my students engage in the learning process, gain personal confidence and refine their own career goals gives me energy," says Wellman.

As an assistant professor in Criminal Justice, Wellman is known for giving students opportunities to succeed inside and outside the classroom. Last fall, students in her Honors Colloquium Victim Advocacy course experienced service learning by partnering with local non-profits to plan and facilitate multiple projects.

"My goal is for my students to leave my classroom with a love of learning, greater self-worth, awareness, compassion and the ability to adapt their interests and knowledge to a career that is fulfilling," says Wellman.

Wellman also exemplifies a culture of by service by serving as a sexual assault victim advocate, student group advisor, community educator, and partner with local survivor agencies. Her research on cold case homicide survivors continues to guide her mentorships, community service partnerships and scholarship goals.

In Wellman's nomination, a student highlighted her commitment to serving others and teaching has touched minds and hearts on a personal level.

By inspiring her students to embrace a life-long commitment to service, Wellman embodies learning to a greater degree.

Mathew Martinez Earns Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Martinez was presented the Learning to a Greater Degree award for his dedication to improving society.


Sophomore Economics major Mathew Martinez is determined to make a positive change in the world. An honors student and campus leader, Martinez plays an active role in many activities on campus that help the community and raise awareness for important causes. Because of this, Martinez was recognized with the fall 2015 Learning to a Greater Degree student award.

Martinez' list of activities is extensive. He serves as the floor leader for the Student Government Association, and is the student coordinator for the American Democracy Project. Passionate about societal issues including diversity and gender equality, Martinez is a leader on campus for the national It's On Us campaign, a cause dedicated toward ending campus sexual assault.

Martinez' nomination described this passion, explaining that he "stepped onto the UCM campus on fire, [ready] to make a difference in the lives of others."

Martinez encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to serve on campus. "College is a time to make connections and make a difference in the world around you," says Martinez. "It's important for students to recognize what they are capable of and use it to build a brighter future."

Upon graduation, Martinez plans to continue advocating societal improvement by lobbying for causes he believes in.

By harnessing his passions to change the world, Martinez is learning to a greater degree.

UCM Vocal Performance Student Participates in an Opera Abroad

UCM student Amber Naugle poses with French composer, Isabelle Aboulker during her opera experience in Périgueux, France.


Amber Naugle, a senior double majoring in Vocal Performance and Psychology, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in a French opera during the summer of 2015.

Naugle had the chance to experience the world of professional opera after she sent a video audition to the Franco-American Vocal Academy. She was cast in L'Enfant et les Sortilèges by Maurice Ravel and left for Périgueux, France in July. The UCM International Studies office and the Office of Undergraduate Research provided funding for her travels. While in France, Naugle received vocal lessons and worked one-on-one with French composer, Isabelle Aboulker.

"She gave me a deeper understanding of French Mélodie," says Naugle. "She also helped me understand the style of noted French composers like Fauré and Debussy."

Naugle experienced performing in a professional opera alongside a small ensemble orchestra and conductor. She credits the training she received in her vocal performance classes at UCM for leading her toward this opera role.

"Ravel's music is not easy to learn, so having music theory, aural training, and voice classes made learning the music less difficult," says Naugle.

By gaining worldly perspective and experience in a professional opera, Naugle experienced learning to a greater degree.

Students Traveled to Belize to Study Marine Life

Junior Kailey Fuchs poses with a sea cucumber. Students observed many types of marine life in the Belize Barrier Reef.


Most people go to Belize for the tropical setting and beautiful beaches. This summer, a few UCM students had a different reason to visit: to study the marine environment of the Belize Barrier Reef.

Students in the Marine Ecology Field Course traveled to San Pedro, Belize, home of the second-largest reef in the world. They snorkeled among marine life and collected data for research proposals they developed prior to the trip.

The students' findings are being used to build a database of information about the reef, which other students will add to on future visits. Scott Lankford and Steve Wilson, co-instructors of the course, expect that this database will be used for years to come not only by UCM students, but also by other researchers and policy makers.

"We didn't just go to Belize, we practiced real marine biology," says Lankford. "It's a great way for students to experience an environment that you can't find in Missouri."

During the trip, students applied everything they had learned in the classroom.

"This experience was one of the best decisions I have ever made," says Shannon Dexter, a senior Integrative Animal Science major with a minor in Chemistry. "It made me a better scientist."

By gaining hands-on experience researching marine life, Marine Ecology Field Course students experienced learning to a greater degree.

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