JOPLIN, MO (SNS) - Alexandra "Alex" Reed, Neosho, has been named "Outstanding Graduate" by the Alumni Association at Missouri Southern State University. The award will be formally announced at the MSSU Honors Convocation scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4 in Taylor Performing Arts Center at Missouri Southern.
Alex, a senior Elementary Education major, will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She also has attained additional certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - K-12.
Lee Elliff Pound, Director of Alumni Affairs at Missouri Southern, says Outstanding Graduates are selected on the basis of superior involvement and leadership on campus and community, high academic achievements, and respect of fellow students and faculty.
She is the daughter of Mark and Janice Ferguson of Joplin. She is a 2007 graduate of Neosho High School.
Alex and her husband Caleb reside in Neosho.
In her final year of high school, she applied to and was accepted by MSSU's prestigious Honors program. She says she considered many things in attending college but chose Missouri Southern because it was close to home.
"I would describe myself as a hometown girl," Alex says. "I planned on staying in this area after graduation. I thought for social networking and building professional and personal relationships, this would be the wisest decision for me."
As a member of high school choir groups, she was impressed during competitions with the quality of the Missouri Southern Music Department, as well as other departments on campus. She also had relatives who had attended MSSU.
She says she is pleased with her decision to attend Missouri Southern.
"I definitely made a good choice," she states. "I am very happy with it. I wouldn't go back and do it any differently."
In addition to being an Honors Program student, she has been actively involved in Project S.P.E.A.K. (Speaking Proficiently Enables All Kids). She was named the Outstanding Officer of the Year for the State of Missouri by the Student-Missouri State Teacher's Association (S-MSTA). She has served as Event Coordinator for the Outstanding Service Project of the Year for the S-MSTA.
She says, in the past four years, she has been impressed by Missouri Southern's "caring difference."
"I felt overall they really did care about your learning and were not afraid to be involved with your growth, whatever department you came from," Alex states. "It was just a tight-knit community that supported you in your decisions. They got behind you and believed in you."
On campus, she was actively involved as president of S-MSTA, as well as the Rho Sigma Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society established to foster excellence in education and promote fellowship among those dedicated to teaching.
On campus, she also demonstrated her leadership by serving as the Executive Council Representative of the Teacher Education Executive Council. She was the creator of the "Pioneer in Education" award - a plaque/award to be presented to a teacher or administrator who has made a lasting impact in the field of education.
In the community she has served as an event coordinator and volunteer for the Children's Haven Service Project and MSSU's Legacy Day.
Alex served alongside the editor of The Joplin Globe as co-moderator for three of the "National Issues Forum" presentations at Missouri Southern State University.
She has engaged in service learning in first grade classrooms, compiling 24 hours of service in individual and whole classroom assessments, lesson deliveries and classroom management.
She was a judge for the Missouri Regional Science Fair and a judge for the elementary level of the George Washington Carver Essay contest.
One faculty member who nominated her as Outstanding Graduate described her in this way:
"Were I to quantify her in comparison with her colleagues and those who have gone before her, I readily would place her in the 99-plus percentile rank of teachers entering the profession. I would hire Alex to teach in my school had I the opportunity. THEN I would look for a place to put her. Her talent and potential are that good," he wrote.
This fall, Alex, whose degree includes an emphasis on Social Studies, will be a third grade teacher in Neosho. She also plans on pursuing her master's in Montessori Education - a hands-on, self-motivated approach to learning.
"In ten years, I want to have a doctorate in TESOL. I also want to have a couple of kids, by then, too," she says with a laugh.
Alex says as hard as she has worked to attain her degree and maintain standards of excellence, she didn't do it all by herself:
"I would like to thank God as well my family, my husband and my teachers," she states.
"They have given me the encouragement and guidance I have needed to help me become the woman I am today."