Award-Winning Poet Leaves Deep Legacy

Michelle BoisseauUMKC mourns the death of longtime English Professor Michelle Boisseau

Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and University of Missouri-Kansas City English Professor Michelle Boisseau died Nov. 15 at her home in Kansas City.

Throughout her literary career, Boisseau wrote five books of poetry, a chapbook (a small book of poetry centered on a specific theme), and won several awards, including a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship Award, a Pulitzer Prize and a Best American Poetry award. Her renown served as a recruiting tool in itself as many students and faculty have been drawn to UMKC for the opportunity to work with her. She was known to bend over backwards to help cultivate students’ work and influence them to submit their work for publication and awards. Continue reading

CAS Team Wins First Place at Regalia Run

College of Arts and Sciences Regalia Run Team 2017The College of Arts and Sciences Team won first place at this year’s Regalia Run for having the largest team of any unit on campus with 29 members. Provost Bichelmeyer presented a trophy to Dean Wayne Vaught and other members of the team on Friday, October 27, during a celebration breakfast in Scofield Hall. Associate Dean Kati Toivanen was also presented a trophy for being the top female finisher in the 10K.

The UMKC Regalia Run took place on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Close to 300 runners, walkers and children took part in the race, and more than 150 volunteers made the event possible.

All proceeds support immediate aid scholarships for UMKC students. The CAS Alumni Board also collected more than 900 pounds of food for the Kangaroo Pantry.

AUP+D Studio helps Kansas City earn “Music City” designation

A studio in Urban Planning + Design, led by Dr. Jacob Wagner, completed a semester long project focused on putting together material that helped Kansas City earn a “Music City” designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UNESCO application focused on Kansas City’s jazz history and current music scene.

UNESCO established the Creative Cities Network in 2004, as a way to “work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.”

Read the full KCUR article

College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship luncheon honors donors, students

Associate Dean Kati Toivanen and UMKC Art Student Heather Burton talk during the 2017 CAS Donor-Scholar LuncheonHeather Burton was scared to death of becoming a starving artist. She dreamed of a career in graphic design, but she was a realist, not a dreamer. She knew job openings in the field were hard to come by, and the potential burden of student loan debt added more uncertainty to her future.

That was four years ago, she told an audience of scholarship donors, students, faculty and friends at the annual donor-scholar luncheon for the College of Arts and Sciences. Today, she envisions a bright future full of promise. Continue reading

Posted in CAS


Chemistry, Philosophy and Pre-Med

Why did you choose UMKC?

I love the diversity. There are people here from so many different countries, so many different backgrounds. I enjoy that.

What made you decide to pursue being a doctor?

I am from Haiti, and when I was living there, I thought I’d pursue law school. The earthquake hit (2010) and my friends helped others through a mobile hospital. I want to help people through their trauma. I would love to be a surgeon. I’ve shadowed a doctor in the ICU.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

UMKC is not the first school or college I’ve been to, but when I started here, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as far as my career. The environment and the people — mainly the faculty and staff — here make me feel great about myself, and that’s when I realize that I have a lot of potential and I can do great.

Close-up of Gerby Jean-Noel in the student unionWhat’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from Tammy Welchert. She told me I am smart, but I need to get to know myself and figure out what I like and can be good at in order to choose the right major. Tammy is my favorite here at the school. She’s really responsive, and always available to help. I don’t think she is only like that with me. I think she just helps every student who comes to her office with an issue.

What’s your greatest fear?

I had fears in the past, but when I joined the military, I learned in basic combat training how to face my fears. So now, I guess my greatest fear is to be afraid and not try things I want and need to do.

What motto do you live by?

The seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I am in the ROTC.



Where is UMKC taking you?

I’m getting my MFA in acting. I had never been to the Midwest before coming to UMKC, but I felt a great connection to the program. I am going back to New York City for the Actor’s Showcase to perform for agents and directors. I’m hoping that UMKC will take me onto my next step in my career.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I did URTAs (a unified audition) and wanted to see what was out there. I met Ted Swetz (UMKC professor of theatre and acting) in New York City and also saw him speak. There was an energy about him and I felt that I had to work with him. I felt very connected, so I left home without even visiting Kansas City.

What led you to UMKC?

Just the connection of knowing that this was a good fit for me. It made me realize that I wanted to gain more technique. This has been huge for me. It is what makes me an artist now and not just an actor.

How has college inspired you?

I am the eternal student – constantly trying to absorb technique and inspiration. Being that this is my second time in school it has been a completely different experience. Getting my MFA was a personal choice and something I was craving after working professionally in my field in New York. I appreciated school more because I had been without it for two years. What truly inspires me is being surrounded by people who have made that choice to improve upon themselves, in whatever capacity.

What are your lifelong goals?

I’d love to make a living off my art. People always ask you if you want to be on Broadway or in movies, but that doesn’t matter to me.

Are you a first generation college student?

I was the first of my immediate family to graduate from college. Both of my parents attended college but never finished. It was a proud moment for us when I finally did. Now that I am receiving my MFA, that is a first for our family as well, and I am glad my family is flying from New York to celebrate it.

Nicole Greenberg standing with her back against the wall and wearing a fake red noseWhat’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

My favorite advice has been to take my work seriously and myself lightly. It’s important to stay focused and devote myself to the craft of acting; however, I need to find joy in it. I need to laugh, and be myself, and be willing to fail. It has been great advice in a lot of aspects of my life.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire quite a few people, but I have a deep appreciation for my period styles movement teacher, Jennifer Martin. She has this incredibly nurturing disposition and has lived and experienced so many things, it is mind blowing. She has inspired me by teaching me about balance. We often started class saying together “first I honor life, and with it, my life in the theater.” I need to remind myself of that more often. What is it to honor life entirely? I need to take care of myself and Jen was always there to guide and influence how we did that.

What motto do you live by?

I got my motto from UMKC. Take your work seriously and take your life lightly. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and you have to be able to fail, otherwise it’s a long road.

What excites you?

Passionate people excite me, people who take ownership of whatever they are doing. They have confidence.

Who inspires you?

Comediennes like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett are my heroes.

What got you interested in performance?

I started theater in fifth grade. I was Glinda in “Wizard of Oz.” My parents just let me do my thing. I got involved in theater at school and eventually, got a theater arts degree in undergrad.

Do you still get performance anxiety?

Yes, I do. The anxiety comes before you give it to the audience. When I’m on stage, I’m not myself. Also, being prepared takes it away. I tell myself to have fun, that this is storytelling. It’s a combination of self plus imagination. If I can find the balance, I am in the clear.

What is one word that best describes you and why?

Quirky. I am a little unconventional, a little eccentric and a little zany. I think I tend to surprise people when they get to know me — and that’s a good thing!


Sociology and Psychology

Why did you choose UMKC?

The location is close to home. I’m from Blue Springs so it’s an easy commute. I like that UMKC is located in the city — there’s so much diversity, which opens lots of doors. I also chose UMKC because it has a good psychology department. A few family members have attended UMKC in the past and shared good experiences.

What motto do you live by?

Be nice to people and work hard.

How has college inspired you?

Since starting college, I’ve become more ambitious. It’s inspiring to just walk around campus knowing that everyone here is working hard to achieve their goals in life, whatever they may be.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I’ve learned that I will be okay if I step out of my comfort zone; everything as I know it won’t suddenly collapse. It’s a chance to see things in a new light and learn things I never knew before.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

Say the answer even if it may not be right. It’s quite simple really, but not being afraid to say the wrong answer is much better than not saying anything at all. How will you ever learn what the right answer is if you don’t speak up?

Sociology's Samadia Saquee with pointing, double peace and happy posesWhat do you admire most at UMKC?

One thing I admire the most about UMKC is that there are such diverse groups of students. It’s awesome that every single day you have the chance of meeting someone from a different country than yourself, and you’re able to interact with different cultures around campus.

Do you belong to any organizations?

I’m a Supplemental Instructor for MUSE, a music and dance history class. It’s rewarding when students tell me that I have helped them. I’m also a member of the African Student Cultural Organization.

What’s your greatest fear?

One of my greatest fears is that I’ll grow old and realize I didn’t actually enjoy my life to the fullest.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I see myself on my way to being an established clinical or social psychologist. Maybe even having a family of my own!

What is one word that best describes you?

Colorful. I don’t mind being the person who stands out. I have a lot of unexpected sides to my personality.



You graduated in May and landed a job in your field. What are you doing?

I am an investigator for the Jackson County Children’s Division. I wanted to work with children, and I’m doing that. I’d like to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology in the future.

Why did you choose UMKC?

UMKC offers my major (psychology) and has a great diversity of students.

Why did you choose psychology?

I chose psychology because I’ve always wanted to counsel people, and I find mental disorders fascinating.

The challenges of the program are the upper-level classes that really get us to think like a psychologist. The benefits of being a psychology major are that we get to help such an important population of individuals.

How has your college program inspired you?

My college program has inspired me and motivated me to become the best person I can be. It’s inspired me to follow my dreams and let the sky be my limit! It’s made me more excited to continue my education.

I’ve learned that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. College has shown me that my mind and abilities are exponential as long as there is effort and passion in it.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

The best piece of advice I have received from a professor is “Don’t ever sell yourself short. At least try!” The advice gave me motivation to keep trying and keep pushing forward.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire my research professor, Dr. (Joan) McDowd, most. She is so driven and motivates all her students. She makes everyone feel important and helps them find importance in what they do.

Psychology's Naomi Britton in the student unionAre you a first-generation college student?

I am not, both of my parents have doctoral degrees or are pursuing them. All of my older brothers and sisters, as well as my little sister, are currently attending UMKC or have attended UMKC in the past.

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is losing sight of what my true goals are!

What is one word that best describes you?

The word to best describe me is passionate because that’s exactly what I am in everything I do.

What’s your favorite social media channel?

My favorite social media channel is Snapchat, because it allows me to express myself through pictures and tell my story uniquely.

What’s your favorite spot to eat in KC?

My favorite spot to eat in KC is LC’s BBQ. Their food is delicious and has a unique barbecue flavor like no other!

What motto do you live by?

Don’t stop doing something you’re passionate about.

Where is UMKC taking you?

Places I’ve never been, and making new connections with people with different stories.

What do you want your legacy to be after graduation?

Making an impact on mental disabilities and those in need.


Political Science and Criminal Justice and Criminology

Why did you choose UMKC?

During high school, I visited 10 colleges, both in-state and out-of-state. I was looking for a college with small class sizes and world-class professors. I wanted to have a full-circle experience in education, culture, diversity and internship opportunities.

Were you the first person in your family to attend college?

No, however, I am a second-generation Haitian-American, and I am so honored to be an Afro-Latina. UMKC welcomes diversity and provides a fantastic multicultural office to help students feel accepted and supported. UMKC is here to help you through your life journey. Whatever fear you have – know that you are good enough.

How did you choose your field of study?

When I came to UMKC, I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. While interning for the city of Kansas City, MO, my supervisor told me, “Your personality is way too big to be an attorney. You need to work in politics.”

After my internship, I was managing and directing city, county, state, and national political campaigns. My job is figuring out what voters are passionate about and listening. It’s all about encouraging the heart and uplifting other people. Politics achieved that for me. I wanted to represent candidates who aligned with my values.

Klassie Alcine, portrait standing and smilingTell us about your time as UMKC Student Body president.

One of my favorite memories is passing the Student Bus Pass Initiative. It actually failed three times. Usually when that happens, people give up, but I knew it was so important that students get the whole-city experience. It was also a sustainable option that reduced carbon footprints. We did a whole campaign around it, including a live mural, and it finally passed with more than 60 percent of the student vote. Now, almost 5,000 students use that bus pass every single week. It was a perfect partnership between administration, students and an outside organization like the Kansas City Area Transit Authority.

What was your favorite thing about UMKC?

It’s the professors who make the culture of UMKC. Every professor I had was passionate about what they were teaching. They want you to think outside the box and question everything.

Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC?

Dr. Ken Novak (Criminal Justice & Criminology) and Dr. Brent Never (Henry W. Bloch School of Management) both challenged me to explore every side of an issue, employ solutions and always question everything. They were always open and helpful when I needed direction. The passion and knowledge they have for teaching inspires me every day.

Do you have any advice for students entering UMKC?

Students don’t trust themselves – they’re so scared of messing up. You have to fight that inner negativity and find a mentor who can walk with you. That’s why my experience at UMKC was amazing, because I had people to tell me “you can do this, because you’ve done it before.”

Also, take advantage of internships. Just start jumping in. The motivation to go to school shows you’re in a great place, but when you toss in internships and mentors, you’re setting yourself up to be constantly encouraged, which a lot of students need.

Klassie Alcine, smiling while holding Kasey RooTell us about your current position.

I manage fundraising, special events and community partnerships for Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas. I meet with individuals and organizations about our mission and educate them on what Goodwill does. People identify Goodwill as a retail store, but our mission is to empower people with disadvantages and different abilities to earn and keep employment through individualized programs and services.

How did UMKC help you reach your current position?

UMKC taught me how to learn and use all of the “tools in my toolbox.” Every class taught me know to understand complex issues, create partnerships, think critically and interact productively.

What are the challenges of your field?

The constant awareness of trauma and pain that people experience is the biggest challenge as a nonprofit professional. Nonprofit organizations are important to fulfill the public’s needs where the government cannot. But the most beautiful and bright part of my field is seeing people become resilient and overcome past trauma.

What are the benefits?

I love sharing our client success stories with community partners, donors and everyone I meet. At the end of the day, I know I am working for an organization that is helping people.

What is one word that best describes you?

Butterfly. I am constantly evolving and spreading my wings for the next journey in life. A butterfly is resilient, transformative and full of positive energy. That’s Klassie!

What are your goals for the future?

I will run for public office. My lifetime vision is to help youth, families and adults achieve their personal freedoms in life.

What is your greatest fear?

I don’t have fear. Every single day I leave the house repeating the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end, you are sure to succeed.” I show up in the world from a space of love and peace. I give myself permission to believe anything is possible. I believe it is a critical time in American history to build fearless female leaders. I challenge myself to give everything in my life and career because the only competition is with myself.

Klassie Alcine, winking while holding Kasey RooDo you have a motto?

I have two. The first is from Hillary Clinton: “Let our legacy be about planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” That’s the goal in my life. I also love Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

What makes you unique?

My positive energy. I’m not scared to be a risk-taker. Even now, I’ll be in a crowd, and someone will yell “Klassie!” There’s something about me that people remember. It’s a testament to my parents, who raised me to be a woman of respect and love.

What’s your favorite place in Kansas City?

Union Station, because of the history, Pierpont’s, architectural details and exhibits. Union Station is a magical place.


Philosophy and Biology

Where is UMKC taking you?

To Scotland because there are so many conservation opportunities there. I’m currently talking to the University of Glasgow to continue my studies once I finish at UMKC.

Why did you choose UMKC?

UMKC has one of the best LGBTQIA programs in the country. I did a lot of research and was impressed with how far back the school’s history goes in LGBTQIA activism.

UMKC Philosophy student Javiera Castro sitting in the student unionHow did you hear about UMKC?

One of my friends was attending here, and I was already hanging out on campus all the time.

What are your lifelong goals?

I plan to live in Scotland. The land and the environment there are beautiful, and I can work with animals and conservation. I want to be doing work that I absolutely love.

What motto do you live by?

I am a Scotsman, therefore I had to fight my way into the world. – Sir Walter Scott

Javiera Castro smiling close-upWhat excites you?

Reptiles and amphibians. I have a ball python and two leopard geckos. I love how misunderstood they are, and I can relate to that. I don’t get why people are afraid of them – plus they are free pest control. A lot of reptiles are facing threats of extinction because people forget about them, and I want to help change that.

Do you belong to any organizations? What do you like about them?

The LGBTQIA Center – it makes me feel safe, like I have a voice. And I feel like I have a place where I can hang out and be myself. I’m also part of Avanzando, where I feel like I matter. I find it difficult for people to understand things they haven’t lived through themselves, and through this organization I can talk to others who better understand.

What got you into your field of study?

I was struggling through some tough times, and my pets really helped me get through everything. I want to work with animals and keep them safe.

Do you have any advice for future UMKC students?

Make friends with your professors. In college we can be friendly and informal, they aren’t scary. They are real people like us.