Name: Jennifer Dryer
Hometown: Gainesville, MO
Currently Resides: West Plains, MO
Occupation: Executive Assistant, Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce; owner of Trident Vinyl
All Degrees Received: Associate of Arts-General Studies, Missouri State University-West Plains; Bachelor of Science-General Business, Missouri State University
“I was looking for a small school that could provide a bachelor’s degree in a town that had a reasonable cost of living. Missouri State-West Plains provided both.”
Coming from the small town of Gainesville in Ozark County, Jennifer Dryer knew early on that a big college campus in a large community wasn’t for her. “I am a naturally shy person, so the small-town atmosphere of West Plains provided me with an easy transition,” she said.
“When I started at Missouri State-West Plains, I was an incredibly timid person. I wouldn’t make eye contact, only spoke when spoken to, and didn’t push myself to become involved in the campus life,” she explained. “At the end of my college career, I could look people directly in the eye and speak to anyone on campus. I felt like I had accomplished something powerful. I put in the hard work, and it changed the way I viewed and presented myself.”
“The Student Ambassador program pushed me to confidently speak with new people and learn more about the school itself. ”
The Student Ambassador program selects students to represent the campus to prospective students at community and university events and assist the admissions office with recruitment efforts. The requirements of the program helped Jennifer step out of her comfort zone and develop skills that uses to this day.
“The manner in which I had to conduct myself as an Ambassador assisted my transition into the workforce,” Jennifer explained. “A business professional must conduct himself or herself as a confident and capable person with the skills and knowledge to tackle the task at hand. I interacted with school officials, prospective students and nervous parents. As an Ambassador, my job was to make everyone feel secure, included and prepared for the start of a new chapter in their lives.”
“After two years at Missouri State-West Plains, I had created my own life, identity and friendships within the West Plains community that I didn’t want to part with.”
Even though she’d overcome her shyness and developed confidence, Jennifer wasn’t ready to move on to another school to complete her bachelor’s degree. With the Missouri State University Outreach program on the West Plains campus, she didn’t have to.
“I didn’t want to quit my job and establish myself in a new town to finish my degree,” she said. “Through ITV (interactive television) conferencing and online courses offered in connection with Missouri State in Springfield, I was able to finish my bachelor’s degree in the community I call home.”
“You won’t feel like you are a part of a community if you don’t push yourself to become a member.”
Since completing her degree, Jennifer has found a full-time job at the Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce, where she assists business owners, community members and visitors on a daily basis, and started her own part-time business, Trident Vinyl.
“My greatest professional accomplishment, so far, has been starting my own business. Although I only work on it part time, it is a superb accomplishment to know I have the skills, knowledge, hard work and common sense to create and sustain a business from the ground up. I am very pleased and proud to say that I am a successful female business owner,” she said.
Through these experiences as a student, employee and business owner, Jennifer understands the importance of becoming an active and involved member of the community, and she encourages students who may have the same struggles she did get involved, too.
“This is an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself, so take advantage of it. You only get this experience once in your life, and it is for a short amount of time, so get in there and enjoy the experiences and the people,” she stressed. “You can try assisting at a not-for-profit organization, volunteer to get your hands dirty picking up trash, use your knowledge to tutor someone who needs the extra assistance, frequent events hosted by the college. Just get involved!”