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Overcoming the Odds

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Featured Story, Students | 1 comment

Overcoming the Odds

Pascale White had already beaten cancer once before, when she was a toddler. It took three years of chemotherapy, but she was able to overcome the acute lymphoblastic leukemia that attacked her blood and bone marrow.

Pascale White, who survived two bouts of childhood cancer, will walk in the Columbia College commencement ceremony Saturday, April 29.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

Less than two years later, it came back. She was only 6 and, for the second time in her young life, battling for her existence.

The relapse is the one that sticks with her.

“I remember getting stabbed a lot for getting blood drawn. That was never fun,” Pascale says. “It affects you as a child. Any time, even today, that I have to get my blood drawn, I freak out about it. It’s hard to me, still, to even step into a hospital.”

Her second bout involved chemotherapy, whole-body radiation and bone marrow and stem cell transplants over the course of three years.

Again, Pascale survived.

“There were two years where many times they said she would not make it through the night. It was a nightmare and a terrible experience for everybody,” says Sylvie Carpentier, Pascale’s mother. “I have seen a lot of kids pass, that unfortunately just did not make it, but she pulled through. We are truly blessed.”

The time in the hospital put Pascale behind other students her age when it came to schooling and, as a result of the intensity of the radiation she endured, doctors said she may never be able to learn normally.

But she caught up through home-schooling, graduated from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri, headed to Moberly Area Community College and transferred to Columbia College three years ago.

On April 29, she will walk across the stage during the commencement ceremony at the Southwell Complex with her Bachelor of General Studies degree from Columbia College, with minors in psychology and business.

“Pascale’s Pals,” the volunteer organization her family created in her name during her first hospital stay, raises money and provides services for patients and families who are facing similar situations to what Pascale and her family endured. Pascale, herself, still serves as the inspiration for the organization, an example of overcoming the odds time and again.

“It’s definitely made me appreciate life a lot more,” Pascale says. “It definitely makes you think about how much you had in the past and how much you want to give back to the families you see struggle like you did.”

Finding Her Place

Throughout the course of one semester, Columbia College’s Ether L. Bruce Math Center had a regular guest: Pascale White, who needed help in statistics.

“I was in there literally every day for two hours,” Pascale says, with a laugh. “They were very patient with me. It challenged me to do and learn on my own, too.”

This was just the sort of attention Pascale desired when she was looking for a school at which to earn her bachelor’s degree. She was concerned she would get swallowed up on a larger campus and valued Columbia College for the free tutoring opportunities and the one-on-one interactions with professors.

It didn’t hurt that she had some familiarity with one of the math center tutors: Tricia Vogt, who was her sixth-grade homeroom teacher at Columbia Catholic School.

“She was not going to fail at anything. Challenges were just not a problem for her,” says Vogt, who works with coordinator Susan Hughes at the math center. “That’s kind of what her norm was, to be challenged.”

The Elizabeth Toomey Seabrook Writing Center & Tutoring Services helped hone Pascale’s writing skills. Coordinator Kate Denehy says Pascale is the sort of student she loves to see come through the center, one who knows exactly what she wants to get out of tutoring sessions and follows up.

“She’s one who just showed up on campus and decided she was going to take advantage of all the resources she could and make it the best experience she could for herself,” Denehy says. “She’s really done that.”

Pascale says the tight-knit campus community at Columbia College helped her make lasting friendships and forge meaningful connections. The Grossnickle Career Services Center also helped her land two internships that gave her some advance experience in the types of professions she’d like to pursue after earning her degree.

She left an imprint on the campus as well.

“Every student whom you’ve worked with, who walks across that stage, is a pride point,” says Dr. Terry Smith, who taught Pascale in his American Government class in the fall. “But folks like her, to know a little bit about her story, they’re kind of a gift to you.”

Pascale’s Pals

It started out with bake sales put on by Carpentier and her friends, to raise money for the sort of everyday necessities they saw during Pascale’s hospital stay.

Extra beds in the rooms, in case family wanted to spend the night. Televisions in all the rooms, so the patients no longer had to reserve the one communal TV that the whole ward shared.

In the nearly 20 years since Pascale’s Pals started, its scope has grown exponentially.

“My mom wanted to be able to help families in the future with what we’d gone through,” Pascale says. “It just branched off and more and more people started to help out, too, so we were able to do more. Anywhere in any way, we try to help out.”

Today, Pascale’s Pals raises money for gift baskets, emergency needs, hospital improvements and other services for patients and their loved ones at the University of Missouri Children’s Hospital in Columbia.

The organization brings Santa Claus to the pediatric patients on Christmas morning. It has undertaken projects such as renovations to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and equipping a new Inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.

“It’s really incredible. Right now, it has a will of its own,” says Carpentier, a chiropractor in Columbia. “Everybody collaborates. People have a lot of goodness.”

This year’s annual Pascale’s Pals fundraising gala drew 930 people on March 10. Carpentier says interest for the event was so high that she had to stop taking table reservations a month in advance.

Pascale was the main attraction, as she is every year. People always want to meet the driving force behind Pascale’s Pals, the two-time cancer survivor and soon-to-be Columbia College alumna.

“I’m very honored to be the image of it, because I am a cancer survivor. So a lot of people look up to me that way,” Pascale says. “For our organization to be to do that for the families and give them hope, it’s such an honor. We’re proud to be able to do that. Without the support of the community, all our volunteers, the hospital, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Collegiate DECA has impressive showing at state competition

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Students | 0 comments

Collegiate DECA has impressive showing at state competition

If you attended this year’s Missouri Collegiate DECA State Career Development Conference, there’s a good chance you walked out with the Kanye West song “Power” stuck in your head.

Columbia College’s Collegiate DECA chapter took home 14 trophies at the state competition and advanced all 12 of its competitors to nationals.
(Photo submitted by Mercedes Nute)

Each school that competed at the DECA business student organization’s conference at Lake Ozark’s Lodge of Four Seasons on Feb. 23 and 24 could choose its own walk-up music for when someone from its chapter came up to the stage to receive an first-place award.

Columbia College’s chapter chose “Power.” So the song played over and over — and over — again.

“When any of us would get announced, the other people (in our chapter) were standing up and cheering,” said Mercedes Nute, a senior accounting and finance major and president of CC Collegiate DECA. “Never have we been that loud of a presence in the room. It was just nice to see your whole school back there.”

Columbia College took home 14 of the 60 total trophies presented at the state conference and qualified all 12 of its competitors for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), which takes place in Anaheim, California from April 19-22.

The whole chapter won the Quiz Bowl first prize, and Magdalena Myles (Retail Management and Marketing Exam), Andrea Lang and Malwina Najbar (Event Planning), Mike Richardson and Colbey Schuster (Business Ethics), and Afifa Saburi (International Marketing) also took home the top prize in their categories. Jade John also advanced to the ICDC as Saburi’s partner.

Myles (Fashion Merchandising and Marketing), Matt Frappier (Restaurant and Food Service Management), and Nute and Stephen Scott (Financial Statement Analysis) earned second-place honors; Jazmyn Youngblood took third in Professional Selling; Jerry Nguyen (Restaurant and Food Service Management), Richardson (Banking Financial Services) and Nute (Accounting) finished fourth; and Schuster (Banking Financial Services) and Lang (Restaurant and Food Service Management) took home fifth.

While Columbia College’s contingent was smaller than some of the other chapters, as Nute put it, “You can’t beat 100 percent” qualifying for Anaheim.

“We were really able to bond together, that we all won. We never had that experience before,” said Richardson, a senior finance and management major who is CC Collegiate DECA’s state representative. “Going home, nobody was sad. Our entire bus was happy.”

The competition in each category involved a mixture of testing and role play, in which the competitors were presented with a real-world problem and tasked with coming up with a solution that would appease their judges, themselves industry professionals.

In Anaheim, the competition gets tougher, the lights get brighter and the crowds get bigger. And the opportunities for learning and career advancement abound.

“What’s a vacation for us is going to seminars and stuff. That’s not always for everyone,” Richardson said. “We’re just all nerds and really like that stuff. So, for us, it’s the equivalent of going to Maui.”

Nute, Richardson and Frappier, a senior marketing major who is the chapter’s vice president, form the core of the CC Collegiate DECA executive team, along with Myles, the secretary, and Saburi, the treasurer. All of them followed different paths to DECA.

Richardson joined in high school after being assigned a Marketing class and finding he had a knack for it. Nute signed up at Hey Day her freshman year to get a college resume builder, then fell in love with it. Frappier joined after taking Marketing classes at Columbia’s Hickman High School, like Richardson.

His childhood dream was to own a Dairy Queen.

“I said, ‘If I’m going to be owning a Dairy Queen, I’m going to need to know marketing,’” Frappier said. “I took that class and my teacher, Pete Eichholz, was just so passionate about marketing. That led me to DECA, because he was an advisor.”

All of them feel as if the learning and networking opportunities afforded by their involvement with CC Collegiate DECA will position them well for getting jobs after graduation. They also feel that you can only get as much out of DECA as you put in.

Chapter advisor and instructor of business administration Ken Akers says that isn’t a problem for these three.

“These are just really, really special people. These are young professionals. They are so dedicated to the college,” Akers said. “They have just been remarkable to work with. This is truly a student group. I’m just along for the ride.”

Frappier said he and the other executives could tell there was something special about this year’s group because all the chapter members were eager to learn and get involved from the very earliest meetings in the school year.

That led to them running the table at states. And sending a few people home humming Kanye West.

“We’ve got a group of winners,” Richardson said. “Nobody went down there just expecting ‘I’ll do my best, but whatever.’ Everyone wanted to win.”

Columbia College baseball off to hot start

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Featured Story, Students | 0 comments

Columbia College baseball off to hot start

For a moment, as Ethan Howser rounded the bases at Atkins Field on March 3, he thought he might be dreaming.

The Columbia College baseball team on its home turf at Atkins Field.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

Howser, a sophomore center fielder from Waynesville, Missouri, was the leadoff hitter for the Columbia Cougars baseball team in its first home game in 35 years, the first batter to head to the plate before a home crowd after the program had been dormant since 1982.

And he socked the first pitch he saw from Williams Baptist starter Ryan Andrews over the fence in left field for a home run.

“It was kind of like a movie, you know?” Cougars coach Darren Munns said. “You couldn’t write a better story.”

Howser’s shot set the tone for a successful homecoming for Columbia College, as it blasted Williams Baptist, 16-5, in seven innings. Cougars hitters pounded out 16 hits and scored 12 runs over the fourth and fifth innings in support of starting pitcher Zach Maskill, who gave up two runs on four hits and struck out five over five innings of work.

Leftfielder Tanner Allen ended the day in style, diving to snag a sinking line drive for the final out.

“We were pumped all season just for this day,” Howser said. “We came out and killed it, in my opinion. It was a good day.”

Columbia College has had a lot of good days during its first season back in action. The Cougars are 11-2 in American Midwest Conference play and sit at 21-9 overall.

That’s despite the fact that their roster includes only 10 juniors and seniors to go along with 24 freshmen.

“We have a lot of great upperclassmen that are leaders and really kind of show us the ropes on how their programs have been before,” said freshman second baseman Ward Mershon. “Our coaches kind of set the example on what to expect from us here at Columbia College. I think we just kind of all come together and play the game.”

The Cougars are scoring 8.2 runs a game offensively and have three starters hitting better than .400 on the season. First baseman Andrew Warner, a junior transfer from Longview Community College in Missouri, is hitting .459 with eight home runs and 39 RBI. Maskill, a senior from Kansas City, is 3-3 with a 2.35 ERA on the mound, and junior Jeremy Rettig is 6-1 with a 3.46 ERA. On March 17, junior pitcher Cody Ebert threw a no-hitter against Morthland College, only the second no-hitter in Cougars baseball history and the first since 1977.

Maskill came to Columbia after the program at his former school, Lincoln University in Jefferson City, folded.

“It’s honestly the nicest thing I’ve ever been offered in my entire life,” Maskill said. “I’m 100-percent blessed and thankful. So I’m going to try to make the most of it.”

A spirited crowd of Columbia College faithful showed up on a cold, blustery afternoon to cheer on Maskill and his teammates in the March 3 home opener.

Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple threw out one of four ceremonial first pitches, along with Jim Sublett, who played baseball for the Cougars in the late 1970s, trustee George Hulett — who played baseball at Missouri and in the minor leagues — and Columbia Public Schools Athletic Director Bruce Whitesides.

All the fans received a commemorative baseball emblazoned with the interlocking “CC” athletics logo and “2017 Columbia College Home Opener.”

The team on the field was able to feed off the energy coming from the stands. Even if it took players an inning or two to shake off some jitters.

“There was some nervous energy, for sure. A lot of adrenaline, but definitely ready to play,” Munns said. “We’ve been chomping at the bit to play at home for a long time now. We finally got to play at home, and guys were excited. I’m glad we came through.”

Munns said the excitement from alumni who played for the Cougars during the program’s first stint — some of whom he knows personally from his time living in the community — has been palpable.

He saw a number of them in attendance at the home opener and hopes to see even more at the alumni reunion April 29, a day on which the Cougars host conference foe Freed-Hardeman.

“We’re definitely going to get them involved as we move forward,” Munns said. “We want to play well, play the right way and make those guys proud of Columbia College baseball.”

Midwest Campus Clash eSports event to invade Columbia College

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in Day Campus, Evening Campus, Featured Story, Fort Leonard Wood, Instagram, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Lake of the Ozarks, Moberly, Online Education, Rolla, Springfield, Students | 0 comments

Midwest Campus Clash eSports event to invade Columbia College

Anticipation continues to build as the inaugural Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo (@MWCampusClash on Twitter) will take place Saturday, April 8 at Columbia College! The event, which is free and open to the public and is the first of its kind in the area, will bring some of the top collegiate eSports teams and gamers in the country together in Columbia, Missouri, to compete for a $35,000 scholarship prize pool. eSports teams from the following schools will be vying for top honors in the League of Legends tournament:

  • Columbia College
  • University of Michigan
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Kansas
  • Grand Valley State University
  • University of Illinois
  • Maryville University
  • Robert Morris University 

After a month-long League of Legends elimination tournament, these teams have emerged to battle for a $15,000 top prize. The second-place team will receive $5,000 and third- and fourth-place teams will each receive $2,500. Matches will start at 10 a.m. and will be called by professional Shoutcasters live in the Southwell Complex arena.

In addition to the live tournament viewing space, the Expo area will include several gaming experiences for all ages, including a Forza racing competition, Absurdly Giant Pong — the classic video game Pong played on a gigantic screen — Halo and Call of Duty tutorials, Virtual Reality experiences, awesome door prizes and a gaming lounge open to all gamers! Area food trucks and an exhibitor space to sample the latest gaming gear will also be featured during the day-long event.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase some of the top eSports teams in the country and introduce our Columbia and campus communities to a national audience,” Columbia College Director of eSports Bryan Curtis noted. “The event will feature something for everyone interested in gaming, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from all over the Midwest.”

The Expo area will also play host to the finals of the Collegiate Star League’s (CSL) Madden NFL Championship Series, part of a partnership between the CSL and EA Sports. Two students who completed a grueling tournament taking on hundreds of fellow students from around the country will have the opportunity to represent their school and have a shot at $10,000 in prize money.

“We’re proud to be one of the first colleges to offer eSports scholarships and thrilled to play host to such an exciting, competitive event,” Curtis said.

Visit for complete details on the event and for sponsorship opportunities, or contact Bryan Curtis at


About the game League of Legends?

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena game where teams battle to destroy the opposing team’s “nexus.”  Click here to learn more!

Students work with world-renowned artist on Columbia visit

Posted by on Mar 8, 2017 in Students | 0 comments

Students work with world-renowned artist on Columbia visit

With some creativity and ingenuity, recycled materials can become fine art.

World-renowned artist Willie Cole interacts with students from Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School on Feb. 22. Columbia College helped sponsor Cole’s trip to Columbia.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

World-renowned artist Willie Cole has made a career out of reclaiming such seemingly mundane products as water bottles, high-heeled shoes, blow dryers and sheets branded with iron burns and turning them into works that comment on African-American history and American consumerism.

On the afternoon of Feb. 22, he held court in front of a classroom of enthralled fourth graders at Columbia’s Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School, nestled into a chair as the students sat cross-legged and hung on his every word.

They had been studying Cole’s artwork all school year and, in preparation, had been collecting recyclable plastic Clamshell storage containers. They watched as Cole hinged three of the containers together to make eyes, a face and a mouth. They showed their appreciation with a collective “whoaaaaaa.”

“Once you can see beyond the obvious, you’re in a whole new way of living,” Cole said. “As long as it works in your imagination, you’re teaching us to see it your way.”

Columbia College, the University of Missouri, Lee Elementary and the city of Columbia partnered to bring Cole to Columbia for a lecture at the MU Student Center and a day working with art students of all ages at Lee.

In turn, Columbia College students got the chance to interact with Cole during his visit, going to his lecture at MU, working with he and the students at Lee and showing him around the Sidney Larson Gallery on campus.

“It’s great when they can spend time with an artist of his caliber,” said Mike Sleadd, chair of the Columbia College Visual Arts and Music Department. “We have a lot of really good artists in Columbia, but it’s rare that somebody who’s internationally known and respected can interact with the community and share with them. Also, I think it’s great for them to hear his story and know a little about his background, hear the way he approaches problem-solving.”

Cole’s art is featured in such prestigious venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He was the 2006 David C. Driskell Prize winner for contributions in the field of African-American art and history.

The Lee students made towers of the Clamshell containers and drew pictures on the front and back surfaces to make individual pieces of art within the broader installation. As a class of kindergartners and third graders left, a number of them stopped to proudly display their work for Cole.

“We have been studying him since the first week of school, particularly as he relates to American history with slavery and segregation, but also as he relates to current consumer culture with recycling,” said Ann Mehr, the art teacher at Lee. “I feel like that’s one of the most important things we can teach kids, is to take care of each other and the world. So he kind of embodies that in such a gentle, creative spirit.”

Joelle Thompson, a junior painting and drawing major at Columbia College, spent most of the day with Cole and enjoyed seeing how he interacted with the students as well as the materials they had collected. Thompson, who is an art education minor, was able to glean valuable lessons as both an aspiring artist and teacher.

Joelle Thompson, a junior, works with Willie Cole at Lee Elementary School.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

“I like hearing his ideas and his approach to a very creative process,” Thompson said. “Over lunch, we just sat there figuring out how we could possibly hang these and playing around with the containers, just snapping them different ways before we found something that seemed like it would work. He just has a very open, easygoing process. He just takes whatever it throws at him and works with that.”

Thompson was one of 13 Columbia College art students who participated in Cole’s visit, along with Krystian Burlinski, Chelsey Miles, Hana Lasseter, Yoko Lea, Sami Lindenbusch, Jaeseok (Leo) Oh, Cecelia Peters, Genevieve Rothwell, Alexis Russell, Shay Spotts, Hanna Stambaugh and Eryn (Scout) Trudell.

The Lee students’ pieces went on display at Columbia City Hall on Feb. 23 and will be there through the end of April.

College awards Presidential Scholarships to 10 students

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in Featured Story, Students | 1 comment

College awards Presidential Scholarships to 10 students

Oscar Rivera thought he was in town for a soccer tryout.

The high school senior and his sister, Jennifer Rivera Bell, made the 12-hour drive from Opelousas, Louisiana, to the Columbia College campus because the Cougars’ soccer coaches had informed Rivera that they needed one more in-person look at him before determining whether he had a spot on the team.

Except that’s not really why Rivera was on campus. Columbia College had called him back because he was one of the recipients of this year’s batch of Presidential Scholarships, which cover full tuition for four years at Columbia College.

Out of the nearly 70 hopefuls who applied through interviews and essays on Scholarship Day, he was one of the 10 that won the oversized check for $87,744 and the surprise unveiling ceremony that goes along with it.

When Rivera walked into Southwell Gym on Feb. 24, heard admissions counselor Brianna Hickman’s voice echoing over a bullhorn and saw Scooter the Cougar among a throng of well-wishers, he knew what was up.

Even if he couldn’t quite believe it in the moment.

“I had no idea,” Rivera said, beaming. “I can’t even talk straight right now. To be honest, I really didn’t think I was going to get the scholarship. I heard what other people had with GPAs and ACTs, so I knew it was tough competition. The scholarship really hits me that I really get to go to college. And it’s going to be a big next step for my life.”

Rivera was the last of this year’s scholarship recipients (click here for video), culminating a two-week stretch in which the Admissions team also sprang the surprise treatment on nine other future Cougars: in-state students Brianna Stevens from Union (click here for video); Lukas Flacke from O’Fallon (click here for video); Logan Widhalm from Columbia (click here and here for video); Ebony Teter from Clarence (click here for video); Aliya Christopher from Kearney (click here for video); and Abigail Meyer from Ballwin (click here for video); along with Katie Espen from West Bend, Wisconsin, Ukrainian student Yuliia Bychkovska and Bibek Poudel from Nepal.

Rivera had been combing all the Missouri news he could find online to see how many students had already received Presidential Scholarships. He knew from his research that the final 2016 presentation happened March 5 but, as February wore on, he was starting to lose hope.

Oscar Rivera receives his full-tuition Presidential Scholarship award check at Southwell Gym on Feb. 24. He was one of Columbia College’s 10 winners this year.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

He checked his sister’s email inbox for the rejection letter. She already knew the good news. She just couldn’t tell him.

“I felt bad the entire time. These past couple days have been really, really rough,” Bell said. “He’s been having super hard tests at school. I just wanted to relieve him of that. But I held it in. I held it in.”

Widhalm’s parents, Darrell and Monica, didn’t have much trouble keeping the secret from their daughter until the day of the presentation, Feb. 14.

Monica had asked Logan to dress up that day, so she could get her picture taken at the career center at Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School. Darrell, who works out of a home office, tried to wait out his daughter’s departure for school but eventually crossed paths with her. She asked him why he was wearing dress clothes. He said he had a meeting to attend.

When the parents met at Rock Bridge before the presentation, they chose the parking lot in which they assumed Logan would not park. They saw her car pull in minutes after they met up.

“Monica and I had to get down behind cars in the parking lot as she walked in from her spot,” Darrell said. “I don’t think she saw us, but I was afraid we’d get arrested for crouching behind cars as she went by. Yeah, today was a little challenge.”

Still, Logan didn’t have an inkling until the Columbia College entourage — Scooter in tow — barged into her AP Environmental Science class and broadcasted her accomplishment in front of family, friends and classmates. Fittingly, environmental science is what Logan wants to study in college.

Monica says her daughter isn’t one to seek the spotlight. So it was nice seeing one fall on her for a day.

“Logan has two amazing older sisters, so you’re always kind of in that shadow of all the great things they’ve done,” Monica said. “We all adore her, and it’s been really fun to watch her blossom as her own person. It’s very satisfying to see it all come to fruition.”

Jeff Barringer, Columbia College’s assistant director of Day Campus admissions, says his team has gotten pretty good about keeping things under wraps during his five years of big check presentations.

He didn’t get the sense that any of this year’s recipients knew what was coming, which just made the payoff that much sweeter.

“These students work so hard and, oftentimes, get very little recognition for the work,” Barringer said. “To be able to give a full-tuition scholarship and also be able to do it in the way we do is something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives. Several of our students this year have said that this is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. To be able to be part of that is definitely the highlight of my year.”

Like Rivera, Widhalm was overwhelmed by her moment.

She’d seen plenty of campuses during college visits with her older sisters. The one that she chose, chose her right back.

“That’s why it was easy to choose Columbia College,” Widhalm said. “I’d already seen a bunch of other options, and Columbia College was the best one for me.”

Columbia College hosts WIN for Columbia awards luncheon

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Alumni, Students | 0 comments

Columbia College hosts WIN for Columbia awards luncheon

Melinda Wrye-Washington didn’t really have an answer to the question.

Decade of Excellence award winner Melinda Wrye-Washington (left) with WIN for Columbia awards luncheon keynote speaker Natasha Brown.
(Photo by LG Patterson)

Wrye-Washington, Columbia College’s volleyball coach, was on the stage at Southwell Complex after winning the Decade of Excellence award at the 20th annual Women’s Intersport Network for Columbia awards luncheon on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Radio host David Lile from KFRU-AM, tasked with interviewing each of the day’s award winners, asked Wrye-Washington what she would have been doing for the past 10 years, had she not been piloting the Cougars to a 358-66 record, 10 straight NAIA National Tournament appearances, four trips to the Final Four and the 2015 national championship.

“I don’t know. This is my home,” said Wrye-Washington, a 1995 Columbia College graduate. “The gym is my home.”

That home, where the volleyball program’s four national championship banners hang, hosted more than 400 guests for this year’s WIN luncheon. Wrye-Washington has compiled a 643-99 record and two of those national titles over her 17 years coaching the Cougars, a span of time in which the team has never failed to win 30 or more matches in a season.

She is also a four-time WIN Female Coach of the Year honoree and, as Cougars athletic director Bob Burchard mentioned in the luncheon’s opening remarks, presides over the winningest volleyball program in NAIA history.

Wrye-Washington wasn’t the only Columbia College representative recognized at the WIN luncheon.

Senior softball pitcher Paxton Welch took home the Mentor of the Year award for her work coaching the 12-and-under Rockers competitive softball team in Columbia. The Jefferson City, Missouri, native is a first-team all-conference ace for the Cougars who also just so happens to also serve as a strong role model for the Rockers players who want to follow in her footsteps.

“She spends a lot of time with her young girls,” said Columbia College assistant softball coach Debbie Jameson, who accepted the award on Welch’s behalf. “She’s just a real inspiration, provides a lot of guidance and puts a lot of time in. She’s really good at it.”

Founded in 1994, WIN for Columbia is an organization that promotes the importance of participation of girls and women in athletic and physical fitness endeavors, along with increasing the athletic opportunities for girls and women in the community.

Natasha Brown, associate head coach for the Missouri track and field team and this year’s keynote speaker, stressed how important such efforts are.

“I honestly wish, when I was growing up, I had an event like this,” Brown said. “This is amazing. This is really beautiful.”

Brown described how she used a mixture of a strong supporting cast and her own perseverance throughout her life to mold herself into a world-class runner. Brown was a member of the silver medalist 4×400-meter US national relay team at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, and she won the 1989 indoor national title in the 400 meters while running collegiately at Missouri.

“If there’s that thing you’re putting off, that you don’t want to do, don’t want to try it, I just want to say: maybe think about trying it. You don’t know where it’s going to lead,” Brown said. “For everybody in this room, you’re all so important to the athletes that you touch. You never know what your words are going to mean to somebody who’s listening to them.”

Columbia College women’s basketball coach Jessica Keller, softball player Molly Carter and soccer player Molly Klein were also finalists for WIN awards.

Keller, who led the Cougars to a 27-6 record last season, was a finalist for the Female Coach of the Year award won by Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton.

Carter hit .472 as a freshman to earn honorable mention All-America honors and a nomination for Collegiate Sportswoman of the Year, which went to Missouri cross country individual national champion Karissa Schweizer.

Klein was a finalist for the Inspiration Award, after battling through a stress fracture to score 10 goals and log eight assists for the 19-2-3 Cougars this past season. Missouri cross country runner Jamie Kempfer won the award.

Readers vote eSports cover ‘Best of 2016’ for Columbia Business Times

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 in Faculty/Staff, Students | 0 comments

Readers vote eSports cover ‘Best of 2016’ for Columbia Business Times

The Columbia Business Times cover featuring Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple in the Game Hut — the home of the school’s new eSports team — won “Best Cover of 2016” in a poll of the magazine’s readers.

The cover of the November issue of the Columbia Business Times.

The November issue of the Columbia Business Times followed an “Innovation” theme and featured an in-depth story on the Columbia College eSports program, complete with action shots of the players in the Game Hut. Dalrymple graced the cover, flanked by computer monitors and the distinctive ceiling lighting panels that give the Game Hut its character.

Readers could vote for the “Best Cover of 2016” among all 12 of the Columbia Business Times covers from the past year. The poll began Dec. 15, 2016, and ended Jan. 31, with the magazine announcing the winner via Twitter on Feb. 2.

There is already a considerable amount of buzz surrounding the team at Columbia College, which became the fifth school in the country to offer scholarships for eSports.

The Cougars advanced to the next round of the uLOL (University League of Legends) Campus Series Tournament with a 5-0 record and will compete for a $15,000 prize at the 2017 Wichita (Kansas) eSports Convention starting Feb. 3.

Columbia College is also welcoming in some of the top eSports teams in the nation for the inaugural Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo in the Southwell Complex on April 8.

A message from Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in Coast Guard Island, Crystal Lake, Day Campus, Denver, Elgin, Evening Campus, Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill, Fort Stewart, Fort Worth, Freeport, Guantanamo Bay, Hancock Field, Hunter Army Airfield, Jacksonville, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Lake County, Lake of the Ozarks, Lemoore, Los Alamitos, Mesquite, Moberly, NAS Jacksonville, NS Everett - Marysville, NWS Charleston, Online Education, Orlando, Patrick Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal, Rolla, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Springfield, St. Louis, Students | 3 comments

A message from Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I’m reaching out to offer support to our campus community. As you are likely aware, a  Presidential executive order was signed and put into effect over the weekend that made changes to the rules governing visas and entry to the United States for certain countries. This is a fluid situation, but I want to be clear that Columbia College welcomes all of our international students regardless of their nationality or religious background. We are a diverse and inclusive college community spanning the entire country with students from around the globe, and it is important that all members of our community know they are valued. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is carefully monitoring this situation, with our students and the larger college community in mind. 

If you have questions, please know that you can contact our International Student Services office (573-875-2756 or, our Student Affairs office (Dave Roberts, interim dean,, 573-875,7690), our Diversity, Equity  & Inclusion Committee chair (Keith McIver,, 573-875- 7550) or, of course, you are welcome to contact me directly as well.    

I want to be clear that our international students, faculty and staff are valued and supported by leadership at Columbia College.   


Dr. Scott Dalrymple

President, Columbia College

(573) 875-7200

Breaking down barriers

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Featured Story, Students | 0 comments

Breaking down barriers

International Center assistant director Leah Buretta Glenn (right) and exchange student Momoko Ogita from the University of Shiga Prefecture in Japan

This feature was published in the latest edition of Affinity Magazine! Click here to check out the magazine in its entirety. 

Rotshak Dakup’s trip from Nigeria lasted two days. It was the first time Dakup had ever left his home country and, by the time his plane landed in St. Louis on that August day in 2013, he was tired, overwhelmed and overdue for a bit of stress relief.

That’s when he saw the group of friendly faces — including his older brother, Panshak — that made up the welcome party from Columbia College, which made the drive to greet Dakup and some of the college’s other international students as they started their journeys in a new country.

“I travel with many friends who went to other schools and they never got that,” says Dakup, now a senior Computer Science major with a minor in Mathematics. “You’ve just basically got to figure out your way from your country to campus.”

The staff at Columbia College’s International Center knows how difficult the transition can be for students coming to study in America. They have to learn how to live in a new country, adjust to a new academic structure and, for most, learn how to communicate in a new language and with a new set of cultural norms. It can be a frustrating, anxiety-laden and ultimately isolating experience.

The International Center is dedicated to making sure its students have all the support they need to be successful, whether it’s through helping with visa paperwork or coordinating activities to ease their assimilation into the

Columbia College community. It starts the moment they land.

“It’s just having a way of them knowing we’re here to welcome you, we care about you,” says Britta Wright, director of the International Center. “And hopefully you’ll have a great experience here.”


The Language

Even international students who know English well can have a hard time grasping the intricacies of conversation when interacting with teachers and fellow students.

Both Dakup and Anh Le, a graduate student from Vietnam who is in the Master of Arts in Teaching program, experienced that upon their arrival. Le spent her senior year of high school with a host family in Forsyth, Missouri, to brush up on her English before completing undergraduate work in central Missouri.

“I struggled with classes and to express myself, communicate with people,” Le says.

Leah Buretta Glenn, assistant director of the International Center, says there were around 125 international students registered for the Fall Semester at the Day Campus, the majority from China, Korea and Vietnam.

Some students are only here for a year to learn English, then return to their home countries to continue their schooling. For the rest, learning to express themselves in a new language sets an important foundation for their time at Columbia College.

The college pairs up students in its English for Academic Purposes program with American students for a semester-long “Cross-Cultural Mentors” program that includes weekly meetings and discussions in which both sides can learn from each other and the international students can refine their conversational English.

Gabrielle Mistretta, a senior Communications Studies major, paired up with partners from China, Brazil and Japan in her two years in the program.

“I didn’t try to dumb down my language or anything like that, because that’s not how the normal flow of conversation works,” she says. “I tried to keep it pretty even, asking questions and then talking about my experiences so they’d have a chance to hear how things are described, then give back the same.”


The Culture

Dakup was extremely outgoing in Nigeria but says he felt more reserved during his early days in America. He worried about his ability to fit in with his new classmates. He even had his brother order food for him during his first week of school.

Panshak pushed Rotshak to throw himself into campus activities. The Resident Assistants and Community Consultants he met during orientation events inspired him. Wright encouraged him to join the Emerging Leaders Institute.

Now, Dakup is one of the most visible students on campus.

“It was just a lot of different people challenging me to not just sit down in my room and play video games all day but to kind of go out and do things,” Dakup says. “I wouldn’t have applied because, the first few days, I didn’t think I was maybe smart enough or good enough to compete with the American kids in class.”

For international students who don’t have a support structure in place, the first months in America can be lonely.

“We’ve had some students just completely shut down, where they can’t function because it’s so overwhelming,” Wright says. “They start making friends, become more confident in their communication skills, and that usually leads to good things.”

The International Center has a number of programs that help facilitate cultural conversations. The International

Extravaganza and International Dinner give students chances to show off customs and cuisine from their countries. Lunch Beyond Borders and International Coffee Hour events are opportunities for faculty, staff and students to have discussions in relaxed settings. The Global Village, a floor on Banks Hall, is an immersive experience for 30 international and American students living together. The International Club maintains the CouGarden and donates its yield to area refugees, along with going on nursing home visits in the community and working with students at Jefferson Middle School.

“We try to foster cultural competence and a global mindset through the programs that we do,” Buretta Glenn says. “Our students are looking for more than just their degree. They’re looking to get involved and make a difference.”