College of Arts and Sciences recognizes donors and scholars
The UMKC College of Arts and Sciences celebrated their scholars and donors at a luncheon that acknowledged the generous donors’ support of students’ consistent hard work through the more than 200 scholarships awarded this year. Dean Wayne Vaught began the ceremony recognizing the college’s accomplishments.
“Students from across our region, and across the country, choose the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences for an outstanding liberal arts education,” Vaught said. “This past year we have had many milestones worth celebrating.”
Vaught mentioned several of the college’s successes this year including the opening of the new digital history lab in the department of history, which was established with a gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation. Attendees applauded the success of the first graduates of the Propel Program, a comprehensive college experience for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Vaught highlighted, too, the continued growth of the Department of Communication Studies, including significant studio improvements.
“These accomplishments would not be possible without the efforts and talent of our faculty and students, nor would they be possible without the generosity of our donors,” Vaught said.
Vaught introduced Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, who welcomed the students and commended them for their accomplishments.
“In many ways, acknowledging student success, expressing appreciation to generous donors and celebrating the interconnections among campus and community that are so vital is the best part of the job for me,” Agrawal said.
Agrawal recognized that the relationship between a donor and scholar is significant.
“Our donors’ gifts have enormous impact on the lives of deserving young people. Here they get to meet those grateful young people face to face,” he said.
While Agrawal noted that he, his wife and his son and daughter are all engineers, they have a deep appreciation for the arts, humanities and other disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I recognize how important the work of our arts and sciences faculty is, and how much impact our art and sciences alumni have on the community,” he said. “I am truly grateful to our donors for all that you make possible.”
Following lunch, Vaught invited the attendees to congratulate the student scholars on their scholarships.
“Donors, please take a moment to look around this room. See the smiling faces of our accomplished students, and see first-hand the difference your generosity makes. These young people represent the best that UMKC’s College of Arts and Sciences has to offer.”
Vaught acknowledged, too, the donors and their families.
“We are so very grateful to you for your generosity. Because of you lives are changed, skills are cultivated, and careers are launched. You are setting an example for philanthropy that today’s students, I am confident, will remember and pay forward.”
One of the scholarship recipients, Thalia Hernandez, a Bachelor of Arts candidate majoring in economics with a minor in Spanish, expressed her gratitude for scholarship donors.
“Many students are like me,” Hernandez said. “They see college as a way out. But it comes with a hefty price tag – tuition, a lap top, books, transportation costs. I was working two jobs to stay in college. I thought I had it all worked out, but last summer I realized that I did not have enough to remain a full-time student.”
Hernandez realized she was going to have give up her role as president of the UMKC Undergraduate Mock Trail organization — an experience she loved — and scale back to part-time status.
“A few weeks before school I received an email informing me that I had received two scholarships,” Hernandez said. “I was overwhelmed by the idea that there were people willing to give up their hard-earned money to help other people succeed. I remembered that this is why I came to UMKC in the first place and I will give back.
College of Arts and Sciences alumnus, Bob Carpenter, the play-by-play announcer of the Washington Nationals baseball team, graduated in 1975 with a degree in radio, television and film. He recounted his career path from overnight disc jockey in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to AAA baseball announcer in Tulsa to a stint at ESPN.
“It was 42 years of baby steps,” he said. “People took chances on me for reasons that I couldn’t always see.”
Carpenter advised students that success is available to them if they are willing to do three things.
“Go to class. Every day that you go to class you will learn something. Work hard. I took a lot of jobs that meant I missed the fun things my friends were doing, but I knew I would never achieve anything by just showing up. And give back. I had so many people believe in me and help me. I always try and help the people who reach out to me.”