First recipient of Murvell McMurry scholarship named; it honors late MCC counselor

For anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to know longtime MCC-Penn Valley counselor Murvell McMurry, here are the CliffsNotes:

Murvell McMurry, a longtime MCC-Penn Valley counselor, loved to fish.
Murvell McMurry, a longtime MCC-Penn Valley counselor, demonstrating his prowess as an angler

He was a walking quote machine, known for such “Murvologies” as “I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night” and “I’m not going unless there’s meat.”

He loved to fish, and once won $1,500 in a bass tournament.

He lived in an old three-story house, so he had to be handy.

A member of the Central High School basketball team that won state in 1967, he used his athletic ability to go to college – half-a-dozen of them. (He ended up with a bachelor’s in physical education and sociology from Lincoln University, and a master’s in counseling from Iowa State.)

He was known for being student-centered: As Penn Valley president Dr. Joe Seabrooks once put it, McMurry “was blessed to earn a living doing what he loved – serving as a passionate advocate for students’ academic achievement and lifelong success.”

McMurry retired from MCC in July 2011 after 29 years here. He died in April 2014.

Shortly afterward, McMurry’s MCC colleagues, family members and others started contributing to a scholarship fund in his honor. They had to raise at least $10,000 to establish an endowed scholarship.

Merari Vazquez-Rubio, first recipient of the Murvell McMurry Memorial Scholarship, is working toward a nursing degree at MCC.
Merari Vazquez-Rubio, first recipient of the Murvell McMurry Memorial Scholarship, is working toward a nursing degree at MCC.

Now, the Murvell McMurry Memorial Scholarship has its first recipient: MCC-Penn Valley student Merari Vazquez-Rubio, 26, who was awarded $1,500 this semester. She is taking prerequisites toward an associate in nursing degree while holding down a full-time job as a certified nursing assistant at Children’s Mercy Clinics on Broadway, just blocks from Penn Valley.

Candidates for the McMurry scholarship must have attended high school within the Kansas City School District, earned a high school diploma or equivalent, and be a current MCC-Penn Valley student.

In Vazquez-Rubio’s case, she graduated in 2008 from Alta Vista Charter School, then located on Kansas City’s West Side. She took a Penn Valley class that spring while still in high school.

“I feel like (nursing) is a calling for me,” she says. And working at Children’s Mercy “gives me a foot in the door already.”

In the essay she wrote for the scholarship application, Vazquez-Rubio said she envisions becoming an R.N. at Children’s Mercy, traveling to South America and “offering help to Spanish-speaking families. I strive to provide the overall best care for families here in Kansas City and around the world.”

She says she feels “very honored” to have been selected for the scholarship that remembers McMurry, whom she never met.

“Murvell would be proud to know that this scholarship continues the work that defined him – helping students reach their dreams,” says Julianne Jacques, international student counselor at Penn Valley.

The Murvell McMurry Memorial Scholarship will likely be awarded annually.

MCC employees who would like to contribute to the scholarship fund can send a check to the MCC Foundation office in the Administrative Center (be sure to note that it’s for the McMurry scholarship), or call 816.604.1195 for more information.