Keynote speaker named for Freedom Scholarship Dinner

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Editor’s Note: This version of the story has been updated to add information from the UCM Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support.
By STEVEN SPEARS
Managing Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — A former University of Central Missouri administrator who oversaw diversity programming is the keynote speaker for the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Scholarship Dinner.
Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, director of postsecondary initiatives for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, will speak during the annual scholarship dinner scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in the Elliott Student Union Ballroom.
Tankersley-Bankhead served as the director of community engagement at UCM from 1997 to 2004, coordinating the university’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration during that time, according to a news release.
She now works with grant- and non-grant-related postsecondary initiatives, including Kauffman Scholars Inc., and the development of a new Kansas City Scholars program.
Ed Wirthwein, director of the UCM Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support, said Tankersley-Bankhead’s work with Kauffman Scholars and the Kansas City Scholars program influenced the decision to make her the keynote speaker.
“(With) the work she has done with Kauffman Scholars, and now with the new program KC Scholars, we thought she’d be a great person to bring back (to UCM),” Wirthwein said. “It’s always fun to get to invite people to come back because she couldn’t believe that we picked her because we’ve had some awesome speakers throughout the years.”
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Tankersley-Bankhead was the executive director of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and the Missouri College Advising Corps at the University of Missouri.
While at UCM, Tankersley-Bankhead developed and oversaw the growth of a number of diversity outreach and collaboration programs, including the Kansas City Task Force, the Cesar Chavez Scholarship program, the Summer Bridge program, the Minority Scholars program and the university’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. She previously worked at Eastern Illinois University, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Kappa Delta Pi.
Tankersley-Bankhead earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and grades 7-12 English education from UCM, and a Master of Science degree in counseling and guidance with an emphasis in college student personnel from Eastern Illinois University. She received a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies with an emphasis in higher and continuing education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Wirthwein said the keynote speech is sometimes given by big names, but UCM tries to bring back alumni’s as often as possible.
“The more money you have to pay a speaker, the less money that goes into the scholarships,” he said. “So we’ve really tried to stay with UCM alums.”
He said having UCM graduates come back and speak shows students they can go off and do big things after graduation.
“The people who are speaking are just like (them),” Wirthwein said. “They walked in (their) shoes and probably had the same struggles that (our students) had as well.”
Tickets for the Freedom Scholarship Dinner are available at the UCM Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support, Dockery 212, or by calling 660-543-4156. Tickets also will be available through the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, 100 S. Holden St. Individual tickets for the dinner may be purchased at the gold level for $100, the silver level for $75, or the bronze level for $50. Sponsored tables of eight also are available for purchase at the gold, silver and bronze levels.
The Freedom Scholarship Dinner has funded more than 190 scholarships totaling more than $175,000 since its inception in 1998. The scholarship was awarded to five students this year.
Wirthwein said all the money raised during the scholarship dinner will go toward funding next year’s scholarships.
Additional events for the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration include the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award luncheon; the Community Worship and Praise Service; the Issues Forum; the MLK Day of Service; and the Student Volunteer Fair and Community Service Blood Drive.