Name: Casey P. Eleson
Hometown: West Plains, MO
Currently Resides: Cheonan City, South Korea
Occupation: English language teacher
All Degrees Received: Associate of Arts in General Studies, Missouri State University-West Plains, 2008; Bachelor of Arts in English as Second Language Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa, 2011; Japanese Language Certificate, University of the Ryukyus, 2010
“My experience at Missouri State University-West Plains expanded my horizons.”
Casey Eleson chose to attend Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) because it was close to home, but his experiences here opened the door to a life and career on the other side of the globe.
The West Plains native began his freshman year focusing on the basic classes he needed for his Associate of Arts in General Studies degree, but he also volunteered at The Yellow House community arts center adjacent to campus. “It was there I met a poet from Honolulu who encouraged me to pursue a career in linguistics,” Casey said.
Participating in the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program planted another seed for Casey’s future. “Dennis Lancaster (director of the program at the time) also offered me the opportunity to substitute in his class, so the teaching bug bit me. So, I would say those experiences went hand-in-hand encouraging me to be a language teacher,” Casey explained.
Honors program opened Casey’s eyes to the larger world
One of the perks of being in the Honors Program is the opportunity to embark on short-term study away trips to such places as Italy, England, Greece, Austria, France, Ireland and Switzerland, to name a few. Although Casey was unable to take one of those trips, it did open his eyes to new possibilities.
“I learned a lot about different perspectives people have and how to deal with those different views and respect them,” he said. “It made me realize the world isn’t so huge, and if I so desired, I could expand my horizons. It put me on a different course, now having lived in Japan as a student and South Korea as a teacher for eight years.”
“MSU-WP was a great learning experience…”
Casey said his time at MSU-WP studying the basics and learning about college life prepared him for his own future as a teacher.
“My first experience in leading a class was at MSU-WP, and that really set the ball rolling for me to go into linguistic education,” he explained. “I was really impacted by my teachers there, and I hope I can have the same impact on my students and their community.”
He is now putting those lessons to use in a new teaching position in South Korea. “I have taught in Hawaii for two years and in Korea for nearly eight years, and I have really enjoyed the experiences I have had. I’ve been blessed with great students, co-teachers and directors, so I can’t take the credit for that accomplishment alone,” he said. “And, learning to be a Japanese translator is something I really do take pride in professionally, and I wish to take those accomplishments and expand on them.”
“My experience at MSU-WP was nothing but positive.”
Casey has nothing but positive memories from his time at MSU-WP. “I learned a lot about people and developed the confidence and encouragement I needed to take the initiative and pursue any career or dream that calls on me,” he said.
Current students can accomplish the same, Casey stressed. “Aim high. Find a passion and maybe change that passion a couple of times. My professors at MSU-WP encouraged me to do the same, to be myself and pursue anything,” he said.
“I’ll always highly appreciate what I learned there, the people who taught me those things,” he added. “I attained the tools to pursue my career there, and I would highly recommend MSU-WP.”