Name: Kori Lancaster
Hometown: West Plains, MO
Currently Resides: Rogers, AR
Occupation: Fair Housing Testing Coordinator/Community Education Specialist at Legal Aid of Arkansas
All Degrees Received: AA General Studies, Missouri State University-West Plains; BS in Communication, John Brown University.
“My experience at Missouri State-West Plains was an incredibly important and positive one.”
For West Plains native and homeschool student Kori Lancaster, choosing to attend Missouri State University-West Plains gave her a natural and smooth transition into college. “I was able to dual enroll in classes at the university when I was still in high school, which gave me a head start toward earning my degree,” she explained. “Missouri State-West Plains was close to home, affordable and familiar.”
It also gave her an opportunity to learn and grow through her positions as a writing tutor and Student Ambassador. “Both of these roles helped me discover areas of work and study I was interested in and hone skills that I had not realized I had. These positions ultimately helped me to choose a major for my bachelor’s degree,” she said.
“Additionally, being part of the (William and Virginia Darr) Honors program provided me with crucial critical thinking skills and greatly expanded my ways of thinking and relating to people that have proven to be beneficial in every area of my life,” she added.
“Missouri State-West Plains helped me grow in confidence in many areas of my life – as a student, an employee, a friend, a leader and an individual.”
Kori credits the West Plains campus for giving her strong foundations academically and socially that continue to support her work today. Through her position at Legal Aid of Arkansas, a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services for low-income residents, she has built up the firm’s fair housing program and utilized a variety of resources to educate the community about the Fair Housing Act in an effort to combat housing discrimination.
“Partly through my efforts, Legal Aid recently received nearly $1 million in federal funding to expand the fair housing program. This funding makes Legal Aid Arkansas’ first private fair housing enforcement law firm and allows us to run the only fair housing testing program in the state, which I oversee,” she explains.
“My degree from Missouri State-West Plains gave me a foundation for learning that allowed me to go on to further my education and secure a job where I can make a positive impact on an often-overlooked community,” she said. “Learning and working at the university allowed me to interact with people from all walks of life, which gave me a better understanding of the world around me.”
“Utilize the resources and take the opportunities available to you.”
Kori believes her time at Missouri State-West Plains helped prepare her for adulthood and the responsibilities that come along with it. “Attending classes and getting involved in the university was exactly what I needed at that stage of my life, and I will always be thankful for my time there,” she said.
“I was able to successfully complete courses that challenged me by using the tutoring services and peer groups. I made friends and expanded my world view by working on campus, participating in the ambassador and honors programs and studying abroad,” she added. “I would encourage prospective students to break out of their comfort zones and take advantage of new opportunities they will find at Missouri State-West Plains.”