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MSU students, faculty and staff receive civic engagement, experiential education awards 

Morehead State University’s Center for Career Development and Experiential Education (CCDEE) presented awards to recognize students, faculty, staff, and employers for prioritizing hands-on experiences inside and outside of the classroom to prepare students for career success. 

The ceremony was part of the 18th Annual Celebration of Student Scholarship on Wednesday, April 19. The experiential education awards - presented by Rebecca Wright, coordinator of internships - honored those whose contributions to and investments in career development via experiential education were exceptional. All students, employers, and faculty engaged in experiential education – internships, co-ops, clinicals, practicums, and student-teaching – during 2022 were eligible for nomination. The community and civic engagement awards - presented by coordinator of service learning Andrew Sexton (Class of 2020, 2022) - recognized the achievements of students, staff and faculty who used their time and experience to give back to Morehead and the service region. 

"I am grateful for all the students, faculty, and organizations that make internships such a dynamic and impactful experience for all constituents involved," Wright said. "Research shows how significant an internship is for students, not only in regards to employability, but for the development of desirable career skills that they can apply in academic, professional, and personal settings."   

2022 Student Intern of the Year Award: Jordan Hensley  

Jordan Hensley of Walton is a veterinary technology major in the College of Science. She was a veterinary assistant at Noah's Ark in Florence for her internship. Noah's Ark Animal Clinics are four full-service, state-of-the-art clinics that annually care for over 50,000 dogs and cats in Greater Cincinnati. As an intern, Hensley learned to gather patients' histories, assist the veterinarian with multiple tasks, work directly with clients, and volunteer to cover shifts in all clinic areas. Hensley grew tremendously throughout her time as an intern at Noah's Ark, and her work ethic and professionalism profoundly impacted all those around her.  

2022 Faculty Supervisor of the Year Award: Dr. Leeann Akers   

Dr. Akers, assistant director for the Center for STEM+eXcellence, received recognition for working with students at Morehead State Public Radio (MSPR). She provided outstanding support for students engaging in internships at Morehead State Public Radio (MSPR). Akers has been instrumental in nurturing student engagement in the internship opportunities at MSPR, many of whom become employed as student MSPR work-studies and accept jobs in the field. Her personal and professional commitment to the value of internships has profoundly impacted MSU students' educational experiences.  

2022 Employer of the Year Award: St. Claire HealthCare Foundation  

St. Claire HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm of St. Claire HealthCare, secures the financial resources necessary to support St. Claire HealthCare's mission. This award recognized Mindy Highley (Class of 1991, 1993), executive director of community engagement and philanthropy, for her impact on student internships at the foundation. Alexa Deaton, an MSU student enrolled in an internship at the St. Claire HealthCare Foundation in the fall of 2022, shared that "Mindy has prepared me for a future in this field by expanding my knowledge, giving me responsibilities to sharpen my career skills, and has opened doors for me to work with others in the hospital to create connections." Internship experiences like this are instrumental for the personal and professional growth of MSU students, and organizations like St. Claire HealthCare Foundation and the mentorship of people like Highley make these opportunities possible. 

The MSU Community and Civic Engagement Awards were presented to the following recipients engaging in mutually beneficial relationships: 

2022-2023 Community and Civic Engagement Award – Faculty: Dr. Jeannie Justice, associate professor of education technology, Ernst & Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education 

Dr. Justice engaged with the Haldeman Hayes Crossing Community Center, formerly the Haldeman School, initially built in 1937. Justice's involvement with the center started from an MSUTeach course that required students to engage in educational field experience. This short-term engagement turned into a long-term partnership as the center's board appointed Justice due to her interest in and support of their mission. Students from all majors have volunteered at the center to teach and help attending children. Justice earned recognition for her historical depth and continued engagement with the Haldeman Hayes Crossing Community Center and the value that it brings to the community of Morehead and Rowan County.  

2022-2023 Community and Civic Engagement Award – Staff: Paul Hitchcock, general manager, Morehead State Public Radio (MSPR)  

Hitchcock began a new initiative in collaboration with Professor of Spanish Dr. Itza Zavala-Garrett to expand MSPR's programs to serve the Spanish Language Community in the region. MSPR's flagship station, WMKY, can be listened to at 90.3 FM, serving more than 20 counties in Eastern Kentucky. MSPR provides educational, entertaining, and informative programming through the efforts of students, staff, and community volunteers. Hitchcock also facilitated print materials to alert the community about programming availability. He earned recognition because of his efforts to meet a regional need while allowing students to obtain real-world, hands-on experience related to their major.  

2022-2023 Community and Civic Engagement Award – Students: Gabe Barcus, Abbey Cooper, Alexa Deaton, Maddie Dodrill, Brittany Graziani  

Gabe Barcus (Kitts Hill, Ohio), Abbey Cooper (Vanceburg), Alexa Deaton (Hazard), Maddie Dodrill (Asbury, West Virginia) and Brittany Graziani (Alexandria) worked with Dr. Janet Ratliff, Elmer and Donna Smith Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and associate professor of management/entrepreneurship. In Her Level UP BBA 350-700SL course, students completed a service-learning project while developing the career skill of teamwork. Their multi-pronged project was part of the Appalachian Teaching Project "Building for the Exchange," funded by a $5,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Under Ratliff's guidance, these student leaders paved the way for entrepreneurship and business development in the City of Morehead. They researched and completed a business plan for Fresh Start, LLC, to offer healthy food options through partnerships with local farmers. Barcus, Cooper, Deaton, Dodrill, and Graziani represented MSU in Washington, D.C., to present their research on the project. They also spoke with the board members of Downtown Morehead, Inc. This team of students earned recognition for their collaboration with one another and entrepreneurial engagement with the City of Morehead.  

"Seeing the impact that our students, faculty and staff have on solving real-world problems in our community is impressive," said Megan Boone, director of the Center for Career Development and Experiential Education. "Students engaging in their communities develop discipline-specific knowledge while also building relevant career skills such as critical thinking, communication and teamwork. We applaud these efforts and the community partners with which MSU engages." 

Community partners interested in working with Morehead State University for future service projects can complete the following survey:    

MSU's CCDEE focuses on giving students helpful tools, knowledge, and opportunities to achieve career success. For resources, upcoming events and more information, call 606-783-2233 or visit  

Photo, left to right: Andrew Sexton (Class of 2020, 2022), coordinator of service learning, presented the 2022-2023 Community and Civic Engagement Award to Alexa Deaton (Hazard), Brittany Graziani (Alexandria), Abbey Cooper (Vanceburg) and Gabe Barcus (Kitts Hill, Ohio) (not pictured is Maddie Dodrill of Asbury, West Virginia). 


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