Making Connections

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

UMKC Partners with The Kansas City Star on Storytelling Series

The University of Missouri-Kansas City partnered with The Kansas City Star in the first session of a new community storytelling series, “Focus.”

The storytelling session, on Oct. 26 at the Atterbury Student Success Center, featured five inspirational people ages 14 to 19. They spoke on the topic “This Is Me: The Power of Change.”

“We wanted to do a community forum event and liked the storytelling format,” said Kathy Lu, Star features editor and co-organizer. “One idea, to start, was to hear from youth in Kansas City.”

The panelists included Lincoln College Preparatory Academy students and twin siblings De’Na and De’Onta Newborn, both 14; Kauffman School student Payton Earl, 14; J.C. Harmon High student Alexis Rojas, 18 and UMKC student Felix Gonzalez, 19.

Earl delivered a passionate and inspiring message about the importance of smiling every day. Rojas talked about the challenges of being a female pursuing a career in the male-dominated technology field. De’Na and De’Onta shared their struggles and feelings about being raised by their grandmother instead of their parents. Gonzalez spoke about his quest to establish his own identity and uniqueness as he embraces American culture and honors his Mexican heritage.

Gonzalez shared his journey and decision to attend college at UMKC. He felt participating in the forum was an opportunity to be involved in something bigger than himself – he’d be an active participant in discussions about issues that affect youth.

“It’s important to accept opportunities when you have them,” Gonzalez said of his participation in Focus. “People need to speak up. Everyone is unique. Love your identity. Love yourself.”

Look for more Focus programs with UMKC as a partner in the future.

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