A group of area high school students who are also currently enrolled at Metropolitan Community College got the opportunity of a lifetime when they were at the center of a presidential stop in Warrensburg, Mo. on Wednesday.
The students are part of the Missouri Innovation Campus, a unique MCC program that puts high school students on a fast and inexpensive path to high-demand careers. And President Barack Obama chose the University of Central Missouri as a stop on his economic-focused tour specifically because of this innovative program.
The Missouri Innovation Campus is an accelerated college curriculum program initiated by the University of Central Missouri and developed in partnership with Metropolitan Community College, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and several industry-leading business partners from across Greater Kansas City.
During his speech, the president touted the MIC as a program that is effectively addressing workforce needs in order to advance the economic recovery.
“I want the entire country to notice,” Pres. Obama said of the Missouri Innovation Campus’s unique model.
The president’s visit not only brings national attention to the collaborative MCC program but also gave the MIC students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the President of the United States. The current class of students, known as the program’s first cohort, got a photo opportunity with Pres. Obama after his speech. The second cohort, who will begin the MIC program this fall, sat among other students on the stage behind the president as he spoke. One student, Brian Green, who attends both Lee’s Summit North High School and Metropolitan Community College’s Longview campus, was selected to introduce the president.
The MIC program, which launched in the fall of 2012, currently offers tracts for careers in information technology and engineering technology. The program is open to qualifying students from the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the 19 other high schools served by the district’s Summit Technology Academy.
Students enter the selective program during their junior year in high school and earn an associate’s degree at MCC one semester after graduating high school. They then go on to UCM to pursue a bachelor’s degree, which they can earn in just two years. Throughout their time at MCC and UCM, the students participate in high-impact, hands-on internships at one of the MIC-partner companies.
The program is designed to reduce not only the time but also the cost of earning a college degree; the students’ internships with the partner companies are paid, and state grants also help offset the costs of the program. Partner companies include: Cerner, DST, Saint Luke’s Health Systems, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Honeywell, KCP&L, the City of Lee’s Summit and Grundfos.
“This program is a game-changer for how young people are gaining access to higher education in our area,” said Mark James, chancellor of MCC. “When a high school student is able to not only work towards an associate’s degree but also gain industry experience doing an internship – all before graduating from high school – that’s an incredibly invaluable opportunity.”