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MSU’s Level UP Program provides valuable service-learning opportunities

Morehead State University's Level UP Program offers valuable and unique hands-on learning experiences. It also provides service-learning opportunities for students in various majors.  

In Assistant Music Professor Ryan McGillicuddy's Music and Microcomputers course, students work in teams and learn to listen to music recordings with missing instrument parts and use software to transcribe the missing parts. The class is a way to address the issue MSU jazz music ensembles have found when many music pieces they would like to perform live have one or more parts missing. The Level UP class improved transcription skills in the students and provided them with valuable skills for their future careers.  

"Through teamwork, Ryan McGillicuddy and his students are involved in a project that will increase MSU students' jazz music repertoire. In this situation, everyone wins," said Louise Mason, coordinator of service learning. "The students get some good experience, the MSU Department of Music, Theatre and Dance gets more complete sets of sheet music, and the community gets to hear some music that hasn't been played here for a while."  

Students in the Family Law course taught by Laken Albrink, assistant professor of legal studies, are working at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass' (LAB) Pro Se Divorce Clinic. Clients go through LAB's intake process and if they meet specific criteria, students help them with the paperwork to complete their no-cost divorce.  

"The Pro Se Divorce Clinic provides legal studies students with the opportunity to engage with clients, develop and practice skills in professionalism and oral communication, and provide an opportunity for students to think critically about the relationship between poverty and access to critical legal services," Albrink said.  

As a form of outreach to MSU's 22-county service region, Dr. Janet Ratliff, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, reaches out to middle school teachers. She trains them to teach their students to compile a business plan. MSU students get in on the act in her Business Plan Development course when they serve as judges when middle school students from the service region enter a "Shark Tank"-style Business Pitch Competition.  

"MSU's service region has long suffered from 'brain drain,' students leaving the region to make a living," Mason said. "Dr. Ratliff and her students are making a difference by promoting the skills Eastern Kentucky students can use to start their own businesses, thereby staying in and enriching our state."  

Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Mike Dobranski's Level UP course Math in Business, Industry and Government (a.k.a. BIG Math) is a service-learning class that allows students to work with clients and organizations to solve problems in Kentucky.  

This semester, his students are working with Dr. Laurie Couch, associate provost for undergraduate education and student success, and Courtney Andrews, director of institutional research and analysis. The goal is to understand the relationship between grade point average (GPA), college admission test scores and other demographic and socioeconomic data and how they correlate to MSU students' retention and graduation rates. The math students work in teams of nine and analyze data to understand better what factors correlate with success.  

"Working with clients has helped my students make the connection between the academic concepts we study in class and real-world applications," Dobranski said.  

Level UP is an initiative to ensure students can engage in experiences to prepare them for success, including undergraduate research, education abroad, service learning and internships. It includes courses that build students' communication, professionalism, critical thinking and teamwork skills. Level UP further focuses on training students to convey evidence of these career skills that are highly desirable to employers across disciplines.   

To learn more about the Level UP Program at MSU, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Education & Student Success at or visit

Photo: Level UP Program classes allow for students in the Family Law course taught by Laken Albrink, assistant professor of legal studies, to work at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass' (LAB) Pro Se Divorce Clinic.