A yearly tradition at Southern was forced to cancel this year when a winter storm blanketed the city with snow and ice. The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast, in which Dr. Albert Cade Beacon of Hope Awards were to be presented, will not be rescheduled, but the winners have still been recognized for their achievements in public service.
Evan Jewsbury, the Human Resources Director for Missouri Southern State University and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, was on the committee to decide which outstanding students would receive awards.
“Basically when we went through the committee, [we looked at] four different criteria,” said Jewsbury. He further explained that those criteria were the impact of service, the length and degree of the service, the extent to which service or action might be considered above and beyond the call of duty, and the extent to which the service might be recognized by the community.
The committee, made up of three full-time faculty members and one student, received a number of student organizations which nominated themselves, as well as nominations for the Dr. Albert Cade Beacon of Hope Award. Dr. Cade was a former professor of the University with a pension for public service, working with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the Joplin Human Rights Commission. He passed away from cancer in 2015, though his wife, Dorothy Cade, was to be in attendance at the awards ceremony.
Though in the past the award only recognized individual students, the official script for the cancelled event explained, “this year the award categories were expanded to recognized individual students and MSSU Registered Student Groups.”
Four students were nominated for the individual award: Kyle Hayes, Adam Hajeh, Ashley Burns, and Abigail McGuire. McGuire, a junior public relations major, took home the individual award with a $100 prize.
“When I first answered the phone call, I was shocked,” said McGuire. “I don’t feel like I’ve done enough to deserve such an honor, so to be recognized for something so amazing was a very humbling experience and made me feel encouraged to go and do more in the community.” McGuire is a regular volunteer at her church, the Faith Assembly of God, the Public Relations Manager for the campus Love Your Melon group, and a volunteer at Upper Room, a college age ministry at College Heights Christian Church. She also assisted with hurricane relief in Texas last fall.
Sorority Zeta Tau Alpha took home the student organization award, having put “4,368 hours and…a significant amount of time into planning and facilitating service in the Joplin community.” Organizations the ladies of the sorority have worked with include Mercy Hospital, Golden Paw Animal Rescue, and the Salvation Army.
Jewsbury emphasized that this a yearly event, and that the committee hopes for even more applications next year.
“We definitely would like to encourage students to really look at this next year, and be thinking about maybe themselves and what they’re doing and/or other students or clubs.”