Missouri State University-West Plains graduate Anthony “Alex” Priest, West Plains, was one of six students who received the 2018-19 Citizen Scholar Award presented Thursday, Dec. 13, by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at its regular monthly meeting in Springfield.
The award, established in fall 2007, is given annually to students “who exemplify the concept of a citizen scholar,” university officials said.
Priest graduated magna cum laude with an Associate of Arts in General Studies Degree with a Specialization in Honors from Missouri State-West Plains in May 2017. He transferred to Missouri State University in Springfield where he is on track to complete Bachelor of Science in Sociology in May 2019.
Actively involved at the West Plains campus
During his time at Missouri State-West Plains, Priest was an active participant in the Student Ambassadors program, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program. He also was selected to serve as a student intern in the China Semester Study Abroad Program during the 2016 fall semester.
In addition, Priest was among a select group of West Plains High School students chosen to participate in Early Degree Program. The program allows qualified students to begin their college career as juniors in high school, earning over the course of two years their high school diploma and their Associate of Arts in General Studies Degree.
Through the Darr Honors Program, Priest worked with fellow students on a community assessment survey of West Plains to determine its needs based on data collected. The information was presented to the West Plains City Council for consideration in future planning projects at a May 2017 meeting.
Awards and honors
At the 2016-17 Celebration of Leaders student awards ceremony, Priest received the Distinguished Fellow in Public Affairs Award, the Community Service Award and the Student Ambassador Service Award.
He also was included in the Who’s Who Among American Junior Colleges list in 2017 and received the Outstanding Student Award for Associate of Arts/Associate of Applied Science graduates at the 2017 commencement ceremony.
Involvement at Springfield
Priest continues to participate in various activities and organizations at the Missouri State-Springfield campus. He is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta (the International Sociology Honor Society), serves as a senator-at-large in the Student Government Association and engages in many of the activities of the Honors College.
He also serves as a lab technician and curator for Missouri State University’s Center for Archaeological Research and is a teaching assistant in the Statistics and Quantitative Methods Lab for Sociology.
Research project on segregation
This past summer, Priest was nominated for the National Science Foundation Sociology Research Experience for Undergraduates at Texas A&M University. The eight-week program included an opportunity for Priest to work with a faculty member on a research project.
The project, “Through a New Lens: Residential Segregation in Sioux City, Iowa, 1980-2010,” compared methods for measuring neighborhood segregation in Sioux City, Iowa, between 1980 and 2010 between non-Hispanic whites and Latinos. His results showed that, while the traditional measurement indicates a decrease in the number of segregated block groups, the more refined measure shows that in the remaining segregated block groups, the level of segregation has increased.
“This research has important implications for community planning and policy making, and is an excellent example of community-engaged, public sociology that is at the heart of the Missouri State University sociology program,” said one nominator.
Community service projects
Priest’s desire to serve the community can be seen not only in his research projects, but also his hands-on community service work. For many years, he has participated in Blanket Buddies, an international service agency that provides financial and social support to disadvantaged orphanages in Ukraine and Mexico.
Through the years, he has collected a variety of items and funds to take to these orphanages, delivered the items himself and provided manual labor while there, painting the orphanages’ schools and digging trenches for improved water systems.
“Anthony’s commitment to perform this work is inspiring, and even when the hard work of delivering the goods is complete, he continues to assist … by participating in activities with the children, such a group play, Bible schools, one-on-one interactions, and other work projects,” one nominator said.
While in Springfield, Priest’s community service activities have extended to such projects as the annual Hope Connection and Veterans Stand Down Event and the Turning Point North Church Neighborhood Clean-Up hosted by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks Alliance, as well as the Grant Beach Community Dinner hosted by Life 360.
“I believe without a doubt that Alex embodies the ‘citizen scholar’ that we at the university desire greatly to honor with the Citizen Scholar Award,” said Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Dennis Lancaster. “His time at Missouri State University – both at West Plains and Springfield – has allowed Alex to grow, learn and change.
“But it has been his willingness to deeply engage in the academic and service life of the university and, in doing so, to lead others toward looking outside of themselves to a larger world in need of his mind and heart that has allowed Alex to influence the growth, learning and change of the university.”
Other recipients of the award this year include:
- Tia Clemens, a senior civil engineering major from Springfield;
- Tyree Davis IV, a graduate student from Kansas City seeking a master’s in health administration;
- Koby Ljunggren, a junior biochemistry/mathematics major from Battlefield;
- Husref Rizvanovic, a senior biology, microbiology, biotechnology/chemistry and psychology major from Kansas City;
- Daezia Smith, a graduate student from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, seeking a master’s in global studies.
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.