WEST PLAINS, Mo. – West Plains resident and long-time state employee Peggy Kissinger received an honorary Associate of Arts degree Saturday, May 17, during Missouri State University-West Plains’ commencement ceremony at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
This is the fourth year an honorary degree has been bestowed by the university. It is designed to recognize extraordinary individuals who have given a substantial part of their lives to serving others and/or who have distinguished themselves, university officials said. It also is designed to establish a public association between Missouri State-West Plains and such exceptional men and women, thereby providing testimony to the values and quality of two-year institutions, officials added.
“Ms. Peggy Kissinger was in our first class of 111 students back in 1963, and while she was not able to finish her degree, she has used her knowledge to help countless people working for the State of Missouri and in West Plains,” Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett said. “In addition to raising a family, she had served in several leadership positions within our community. It is very fitting that we recognize this exceptional lady during our 50th anniversary year.”
Kissinger, who took classes at Missouri State-West Plains from 1963 to 1969, was employed by the State of Missouri for 35 years, beginning in 1965 – first as a case worker with the Missouri Division of Family Services and then in the Missouri Division of Employment security where she helped others with job placement and taught pre-employment skills.
She also has been actively involved in a variety of community service projects and civic organizations for more than 40 years, including serving as president of the West Plains Rotary Club and achieving lifetime membership status with the Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce.
Understanding the importance of an institution of higher learning for residents in south-central Missouri, Kissinger has remained actively involved with Missouri State-West Plains for over 50 years, serving on various committees to promote its advancement. She received Missouri State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizing her extraordinary achievement in personal and professional endeavors in 2002, and she gave the keynote address at the university’s 2004 commencement ceremony as the campus celebrated its 40th anniversary.
University officials noted she continues to inspire others to pursue higher education opportunities as a substitute teacher at West Plains High School, and that awarding her with an honorary associate’s degree recognizes her achievements and her remarkable endeavors and provides a role model to students.