photo courtesy of Missouri State-West Plains

Willow Spring resident receives Citizen Scholar Award

Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) graduate Morgan Blanck, Willow Springs, was among six students who received Missouri State University's 2022-2023 Citizen Scholar Award.
The awards were presented Thursday, Dec. 15, by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at the group's regular meeting in Springfield.
Established in fall 2007, the award is given annually to students "who exemplify the concept of a citizen scholar," university officials said.
"As the university's most prestigious student honor, the Citizen Scholar Award encapsulates all of the attributes we want our students to possess and develop during their time with us. Without a doubt, Morgan embodies the citizen scholar," said MSU-WP Chancellor Dennis Lancaster.
"She gave and gave of herself while a student on the West Plains campus, all the while maintaining her grades and going beyond the ordinary in the classroom," he added. "She continued that love of service and exceptional academic achievement on the Springfield campus. It's a joy to honor Morgan with this award."
Blanck graduated magna cum laude from MSU-WP in July 2021 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree. She is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing degree program at MSU. After graduation in May 2023, she plans to become an editor for an area publishing company.
During her time at MSU-WP, Blanck served as chief of staff for the Student Government Association (SGA) and received the organization's Presidential Cabinet Appreciation Award for her efforts. 
In addition, Blanck worked as the receptionist for MSU-WP's student life and development office. In that role, she created the university's weekly Student News and Events email and Stall Study flyers, which provide students with important information from campus offices and departments and updates on campus activities in which they may participate. She also managed the department's social media pages.
Blanck's extensive involvement in campus organizations and activities and ability to encourage other students to participate, as well, is what sets her apart from her peers, her nominator said.
"Whatever organization she is a part of, you will find her active and generally in a leadership role. Citizen scholars need to be involved, but beyond that, they should be leaders. I feel this characteristic is what separates her from her peers. She not only works in community engagement activities, but as a leader, promotes opportunities for other students to do so, as well," the nominator said.
Blanck also completed a publishing internship at Cornerpost Press, a small publishing company in south-central Missouri, and served as a student editor of Elder Mountain: A Journal of the Ozarks, Issue 10. The journal is published annually by MSU-WP's English Department.
Her nominator pointed out that Blanck was given substantial responsibilities on two major publishing projects during her internship. She edited a book that was one the top five titles considered for the PEN/Faulkner Award, a significant coup since the other four books were from major publishing companies and university presses. Her editorial assistance on Elder Mountain was significant because it was a double issue that featured the best pieces from the previous nine issues and new material and involved more complex and massive editing tasks, her nominator said.
Academically, she was recognized on the MSU-WP Chancellor's and Dean's Lists, and because of her involvement in SGA, Christian Campus House and other student activities and events, she received the MSU-WP Outstanding Student Leader Award in spring 2021.
"Morgan has been self-motivated and self-driven in her education and service," her nominator praised. "Through her work with SGA and the office of student services, she has helped to make more of our students part of the process of going to college and changing our campus community."
Other recipients of the award this year include:
- Samara Mizutani Cesar, a graduate student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Isesaki, Japan, who is working on a master's degree in criminology;
- Milana Hainline, a senior from Springfield, who is seeking a bachelor's degree in elementary education;
- Blake Rief, a senior from Eureka, who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in criminology;
- Lindsey Sanderson, a senior from Wichita, Kansas, who is majoring in construction management;
- Orlando X. Williams, a senior from St. Louis who is majoring in child and family development. 
The Citizen Scholar Award is given to students who have contributed to the university, advanced the university's public affairs mission, and have significantly engaged in extra-curricular accomplishments and/or in significant service activities to the community.
Each recipient receives a crystal globe in recognition of the award, and their names are added to the Citizen Scholar Wall at Plaster Student Union on the Springfield campus.
For more information about the Citizen Scholar Award, visit
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