MSU-WP alumni receive Citizen Scholar Awards Ozark Radio News



SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Two Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) graduates, Morgan Spoor, Gainesville and Weston Phipps, Houston, were among six students who received the 2021-2022 Citizen Scholar Award from Missouri State University.

The awards were presented on Thursday, December 16, by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at the group’s regular meeting in Springfield.

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Established in the fall of 2007, the award is presented annually to students “who embody the concept of a citizen scholar,” university officials said.

“We are delighted that two of our Missouri State-West Plains graduates are receiving the Citizen Scholar Award this year, the first time this has happened in the awards program’s 15-year history,” MSU Chancellor said -WP Dennis Lancaster.

“. We are proud of both of them, ”Lancaster added.

Spoor graduated from MSU-WP in May 2021 with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN). She is currently enrolled in MSU’s Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) Completion Program. Eventually, she plans to earn a master’s degree in nursing from MSU and become a flight nurse.

While at MSU-WP, Spoor served as the Treasurer of the Nursing Students Association and actively participated in the Alpha Delta Nu Honors Nursing Society, through which she helped create a video of Nursing Honors. orientation for new nursing students. She also served as a mentor for first year nursing students.

Academically, she was recognized on the Chancellor’s List and, due to her many acts of service to the community, she received the MSU-WP Public Affairs Fellow Award in the spring of 2021.

According to one of his Citizen Scholar Award nominees, what sets Spoor apart from other students is his eager willingness to help others. She volunteered several times to administer hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, she performed eye screening for preschool and elementary children in the area, she donated many new baby items at the Howell County Organization for Wellness Community Baby Shower Project, and she serves as a specialist in the National Guard. The nominator also recalled a time during clinics where Spoor was called to the emergency room to use his sign language ability to communicate with a patient.

“In the least case, you could see his consideration for others. I remember one day in class when a student didn’t have a partner, Morgan quickly said, “She can join our group!” It is what it is, ”said the proponent.

The hurdles Spoor had to overcome to achieve her educational goals also make her well deserving of the award, the nominee added. While pregnant with twins, Spoor’s husband tragically lost his life in a car accident. She went into premature labor and became the mother of two premature babies. She started nursing school with not only her twins, but also three older children, one of whom has special needs.

“She never complained once. She did not miss the lessons. His grades have remained good, ”said the proponent. “Morgan is an winner with a positive outlook on life, always ready to help others.”

Phipps received the Associate of Arts in General Studies Honors with Distinction from MSU-WP in May 2018, magna cum laude graduate. He received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in December 2020 from MSU, graduating with Distinction, and is currently working on a Masters in Experimental Psychology with a Certificate in Statistics at the Springfield Campus. He plans to complete a doctoral program in clinical psychology, practice therapy, and teach psychology at a university.

While at MSU-WP, Phipps was a member of the Future Alumni Organization, the Student Government Association, Student Ambassadors and the Pre-Health Professions Club. He also participated in the Chinese Semester Study Abroad Program and traveled with the William and Virginia Darr Honor Program for cultural learning and service opportunities.

“While here at MSU-WP, Weston was the perfect example for student engagement. He has invested his time in student organizations, student committees, volunteering, presenting at conferences, and studying abroad. His spirit of service seems to be at the forefront of his academic and professional ambitions, ”said his proponent.

The proponent highlighted Phipps’ volunteer work with the West Plains community following severe flooding in the spring of 2017, as well as his work at the West Plains Regional Animal Shelter. While in China, the proponent said, Phipps accumulated more than 300 volunteer hours helping Chinese students speak English. He also provided over 40 hours of volunteer work in an environmental sustainability program in the Dominican Republic and over 60 hours of medical experience in a scholarship program in Greece.

“I am very impressed with his flood relief work,” said the proponent. “He was not from West Plains and no one made him serve. He already had the required volunteer hours for the honors program, and the work was unrelated to his future professional goals. He served our city simply because it was necessary. People needed him, and that was all Weston needed to help.

“He is humble and his service to others comes from a place of duty,” added the proponent. “He doesn’t flaunt his accomplishments because he thinks the service lives up to expectations. He finds knowledge, wisdom, and education to be privileges, so he has a moral duty to help others with his own blessing. I only see a few students like Weston.

Other award recipients this year include:

• Diana Dudenhoeffer, a senior from Springfield who specializes in journalism;

• Manuel Jose Elivo-Jerez, a graduate student from Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, who is studying for a Masters in Business Administration;

• Emily Fessler, graduate student from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, pursuing a master’s degree in public health;

• Cole Howerton, a Conway Elder, majoring in history.

The Citizen Scholar Award is presented to students who have contributed to the university, further the university’s public affairs mission, and have been meaningfully engaged in extracurricular accomplishments and / or service activities significant to the community.

Each recipient receives a crystal globe in recognition of the award, and their names are added to the Citizen Scholar Wall of the Plaster Student Union on the Springfield campus.

For more information on the Citizen Scholar Award, visit



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