MSSU instructor presents to United Nations, Human Trafficking

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin woman is getting a global boost in her efforts to combat human trafficking. Angie Brower recently made a virtual presentation to nearly 100 United Nations delegates and representatives.

She works both in the MSSU social work program and at Rapha House. Brower used that knowledge to help participants from Haiti and France learn an assessment program to help trafficking survivors.

“Not only a tool that they know how to use – that they can use to better serve survivors that they come into contact with. But also an overall understanding of how to talk to a survivor of trauma. Because that was part of the presentation as well. When you’re talking to a survivor of trauma – you have to understand that even though you know you’re there to help them, they don’t know that,” she said.

Brower wasn’t the only Joplin representative taking part in the project. She worked with Joplin High School teacher Ryan Burnside to translate the speech.


MSSU mural project to enhance study nook installation

JOPLIN, Mo. — A group project is helping to create a new study spot on campus at Missouri Southern. The Southern Leadership Academy has adopted this space near a stairwell in Webster Hall.

Art Professor Kyle McKenzie is leading the group of volunteers to add some atmosphere to the space. He points out anyone who can pick up a paintbrush can help in this kind of project.

“Built into the process, the ability for a lot of people to collaborate. As soon as you ask anyone to help on a project like that, the first thing most people say is, ‘Oh I can’t paint.’ But there’s so many parts to the process that don’t require a lot of training. Just about being organized in a certain way and being willing to work,” he said.

Even his five-year-old daughter, Fiona, pitched in to help.

They hope to wrap up the mural by the end of next week. After that, the group plans to add enough seating and flat surfaces to create a convenient study nook.


New MSSU & Crowder program paves path for teacher-education students

JOPLIN, Mo. — Crowder College and Missouri Southern have made it easier for education students to go from one institution to the other.

The program is called 2+2 and was signed by representatives from both schools today.

The agreement has been in the works for the past year. It creates a seamless pathway for education students at Crowder to complete their teaching certification at MSSU in two years after completing their first two years at Crowder.

“So students know exactly which courses to take at Crowder in order to transfer as a junior at Missouri Southern. Lose no credits, be ready to move forward in two years, be ready for a career in teaching,” said Lisa Toms, MSSU V.P. for Academic Affairs.

“Crowder College students are able to begin at Crowder College and then know that where ever they go, particularly MSSU.
They’re going and not going to lose any credits, that’s the number one thing community college students have trouble with is losing credits when they transfer,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, Crowder College President.

The two schools are now working on similar agreements in the areas including biology, chemistry, math, speech, theatre, art, and music.


MSSU creates scholarship in honor of fallen JPD officer

JOPLIN, Mo. — The memory of a fallen Joplin officer is creating a legacy for the future at Missouri Southern.

It’s the Officer Jake Reed Memorial Scholarship, designed to honor Reed’s sacrifice and support students interested in criminal justice.

The endowed scholarship will be awarded annually. It has a number of supporters already, including the Reed family and Kappa Alpha fraternity, to which reed belonged to.

Four smaller scholarships are also in the works, likely one-time awards, two each in Reed’s name as well as Corporal Ben Cooper.

The two men lost their lives in the line of duty back in March.


MSSU planning upgrades thanks to the 2023 state budget

JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern is getting a significant boost in the 2023 state budget with a chance to break ground on a big addition to campus.

MSSU will get an extra $1.4 million to help with day-to-day costs and another $500,000 to help cover retirement plan costs.

Fundraising is underway to match $15 million from the state to build a new health sciences innovation center.

State funding will also benefit the communications program.

“In Webster, there would be some interior changes to really provide the technology and space to educate students in media, in communication for the 21st century, and also to develop the workforce that is needed in our region,” said Dr. Dean Van Galen, MSSU President.

The state funding boost also means cost of living raises on campus, averaging 3%.


Driver killed in jet powered semi crash had ties to Joplin

Shockwave Jet Truck Accident
Shockwave Jet Truck accident scene at the 2022 Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show (Courtesy: Joseph W. Mancy)

KSNF/KODE – The driver of a tipple jet powered semi-truck, known as SHOCKWAVE, was killed this Independence Day weekend, in what authorities are calling a “horrific accident” that occurred during a performance at an air show in Michigan.

That driver of “the world’s fastest jet powered truck” was Chris Darnell, a graduate of Missouri Southern State University who called southwest Missouri, home.

In a post published Saturday night (7/2) on the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck Facebook page, Chris Darnell’s father, Neal Darnell said the following:

“During today’s SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck performance at the Battle Creek ‘Field of Flight’ Airshow, an accident occurred as a result of a mechanical failure on the Jet Truck. Regretfully, Chris Darnell, the driver and my youngest son, passed away from his injuries at approximately 1:01 p.m. No one else was involved. I will post more information as we get it. We will provide Funeral Arrangements sometime this week. We are so sad. Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business. He was ‘Living the Dream,’ as he said.”

Neal Darnell – Father of Chris Darnell


The accident occurred on July 2nd in Battle Creek, Michigan, as the truck was speeding down a runway at the Battle Creek Executive Airport, while two aircraft were performing low-flying aerial stunts, just above the truck.

In the video of the accident, which you can see HERE, the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck raced through or by an explosion, and seemed to be in flames, generating a stream of smoke and debris.

Battle Creek, Michigan police, currently investigating the incident, said one of their priorities is to clear up some uncertainty surrounding whether the initial explosion of flames, which produced a cloud of black smoke, was a component of the annual Battle Creek Field of Light Air Show and Balloon Festival.

The event advertised on the Field of Flight Air Show website mentions that it will involve “pyro and the WALL OF FIRE.”

Further details involving the crash will come from the official investigation by the Battle Creek, Michigan Police Department, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration.

CHRIS DARNELL – “Living The Dream

Based in Springfield, Missouri, SHOCKWAVE is owned by Darnell Racing Enterprises, Inc. and their jet powered semi-trucks were driven/piloted by Chris Darnell.

On their website, under the “About Us” section, you’ll find a short biography about Chris Darnell.

According to the website biography, Darnell, who spent his entire life participating in racing, was the driver/pilot for both the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck and the FLASH FIRE Jet Truck.

He also had a significant amount of expertise in the Motorsports Promotion industry.

Over the years, Darnell participated in a wide range of racing events, including drag racing, circle track racing and more.

Darnell graduated MSSU in Joplin, Missouri with a degree in marketing, advertising, and promotions.

Darnell also owned a truck accessory business in Springfield called 4 Wheel Customs, in addition to operating the fastest trucks in the world in drag racing and air shows.

For more information on SHOCKWAVE Jet Trucks, you’ll find a link to their website, HERE, or you can visit their Facebook Page, HERE.


MSSU names chair of Dental Hygiene program

JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern State University has announced a new chair for their Dental Hygiene program.

Jill Pyle (Photo courtesy of MSSU)

Jill Pyle was named the chair of the program Wednesday morning. Pyle has extensive experience in the field and also recently received her master’s of education degree.

“I got my bachelor’s degree in biology in 1995, as well as minors in chemistry and paralegal studies,” she said. “I came back and went through the dental hygiene program in 1999. I worked in private practice for the last 22 years, and for the last five years I’ve also been an adjunct instructor in the dental clinic.” 

Pyle, who lives in Carl Junction with her husband and two children, serves as superintendent of schools for the district currently.

In a release from the university, Pyle’s vision for the program “is to maintain a standard of excellence while putting further emphasis on community outreach.” Pyle stressed the importance of reaching out to rural communities to provide care and partnering with KCU’s dental school.

“Missouri Southern is an excellent school. I’m excited for the future of our program,” Pyle said. “We have a very good success rate when it comes to passing national written and clinical boards. Our faculty is outstanding. They are extremely well trained, very caring and provide an excellent education to our students. 

More information of MSSU’s Dental Hygiene program can be found on their website here.


Golden Lion — Mackenzie Robbins

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s time for our final Golden Lion Award winner of the school year.

“It’s crazy. You know, everybody tells you it goes by quick,” said Kenzie Robbins, WCHS Senior.

Kenzie Robbins is officially done with high school. And there’s a good reason it felt like those four years flew by.

“I’ve been involved in the girls basketball program for the last four years and Student Council for the last two years. Then I’ve also been involved in FTA as well,” she said.

Which led to blood drives, penny drives, and canned food drives.

“Also volunteered at Water Gardens a couple of times. We do a bunch of different things.”

Distributing holiday meals is a favorite way to give back for Kenzie.

“We deliver Thanksgiving meals to our community families in need during Thanksgiving, and it’s one of my favorite things to do just to give back to them because they’re always there supporting us,” Kenzie said.

She’s helped out with other students at Webb City.

“We just go around to the classrooms. Whatever the teachers really need help with we go in and we do crafts with them you know bring a snack whatever they need us to do we do.”

And pitching in with the Special Olympics is something she looks forward to.

“Just a way to celebrate them. You know, that day is all about them. I’ve been a buddy the last two years, super fun,” she added.

She says her volunteering efforts started years ago with trips to help out at the Ronald McDonald House with her grandma.

“We just you know, help around them whatever they need us to do cook clean, just be there to support the families during their rough time,” Kenzie said.

Webb City teacher Dr. Katie Mock says Kenzie is a good choice for the Golden Lion Award.

“Kenzie is a leader,” said Dr. Mock.

Kenzie has firm goals in place for the next several years.

“I will plan to attend Missouri Southern obviously, this fall and then I’ll be heading to KC to apply to KCU College of Dental Medicine to become a pediatric dentist,” she said.


Golden Lion — Macey Brewster

JOPLIN, Mo. — We have another Golden Lion Award winner, this from the state of Oklahoma, a Quapaw Wildcat.

“From 8 a.m. to 12. I have three college classes from those times,” said Macey Brewster, Quapaw Student

Senior year is winding down for Macey Brewster, but she’s already splitting her time between high school and college.

“So I go to campus, and then I come back to eat lunch with my friends. And then I don’t have a fifth hour and then I have sixth hour with Miss Price with A&P,” she added.

She’s also spending plenty of that limited time on campus helping others, with projects like a Christmas Toy Drive.

“And we wrapped presents for the underprivileged kids. They did like Shop-With-A-Cop,” Macey said.

It’s not just the Christmas tree that’s getting attention – but also helping out with food for the holiday meal.

“Just tables with packaged food, canned food, and then we had like an assembly line. And we’d pass the boxes around the tables and we each had like cans of green beans like you put four in the box and then pass it to your other person.”

Previous Golden Lion Award Recipients:

Macey also doubles up volunteering with Christmas meals through her own church. She also helps to organize the school blood drive.

“To save a life, you know. I had to go around classes the day of and be like, come on, you gotta save a life,” she said.

And don’t forget saving the planet.

“Last year, I was the recycle girl. I would go around the classrooms and pick up the recycling from the classrooms. And then our STUCO sponsor would take it to the recycling place. We do paper, plastic bottles and cans,” Macey said.

Quapaw Teacher Vicki Hosfelt says there’s no question Macey makes a difference on campus.

Macey is just days away from graduation, and enrolling at Missouri Southern.

“I’m going to be majoring in biology in the pre-dental program,” Macey said. “I had horrible teeth and I saw how much change that was and how happy I was. I just want to make people happy.”


MSSU "Picnic on the Oval" celebrate semester's nearing end

JOPLIN, Mo. — The countdown is on to the end of the semester — and on Friday (4/29) Missouri Southern Students, faculty and staff celebrated with a special gathering. It’s the traditional “Picnic on the Oval” which marks the last few days of regular classes.

This year, campus construction prompted much of the activity to move inside Billingsly Student Center. Organizers say it’s still a chance to eat together and have some fun before finals kick off.

“The school year can be kind of a grind for our students. And so it’s a nice little treat for them to get some free food and tshirts and have some fun. Kind of blow off some steam before the semester’s done,” said Craig Gullett, MSSU Student Activities.

Finals week starts on May 9th — graduation is slated for May 14th.