New scholarship for MCC student veterans announced at inauguration

Members of the Helms family — Sharon (from left), Yvonne and Karla — take part in the presentation of a scholarship check to MCC student veteran Yara Morgan (right, holding check).

A new scholarship for Metropolitan Community College student veterans pays tribute to the military service of Chancellor Kimberly Beatty’s father, Reggie Helms, who died in 2017.

Reggie Helms

Carolyn Watley, an MCC Foundation director, announced the scholarship and its first recipient at the inauguration of Dr. Beatty. The program was Aug. 24 at the Music Hall downtown.

“Dr. Beatty and her family would agree that Reggie was a lot of things: He loved to have fun, he was extremely smart, and he was dedicated to his family,” Watley said. “While he was all of these things, there is one thing you knew about Reggie upon meeting him. He was a proud Vietnam veteran.”

Mr. Helms served as a signal support systems specialist for the Army.

Shortly before he died, Chancellor Beatty “had the pleasure of filling a bucket list item for him,” Watley said: They took a trip to Vietnam together, 49 years after his landing there.

Chancellor Kimberly Beatty (right) grew emotional as MCC Foundation director Carolyn Watley talked about Dr. Beatty’s late father, Reggie Helms.

A number of community sponsors made inauguration festivities possible. “We had a goal and we exceeded this goal” by a projected $25,000, Watley said. That money will now go to an endowed scholarship for MCC student veterans who display leadership on campus or in the community.

Watley was joined on stage by members of the Helms family and by MCC student Yara Morgan, the first recipient of the Reggie Helms Memorial Scholarship.

Scholarship recipient Yara Morgan, a Navy veteran, gives a smile to Chancellor Kimberly Beatty. Carolyn Watley is at left.

Morgan served active duty in the Navy for four years and then six years with the Kansas Army National Guard. After working as a personal trainer, she learned about MCC’s occupational therapy assistant program and decided to pursue that as a career. Morgan, a mother of two and grandmother of two, started the program this semester.

A hug between Dr. Beatty and the first recipient of the Reggie Helms Memorial Scholarship

At the inauguration ceremony she was presented a scholarship check for $2,500.

“Dr. Beatty’s loveĀ for her father was very touching, and for her to set up a scholarship in his honor for veterans is amazing,” Morgan said later.

Having the first year of the occupational therapy assistant program paid for “is a true blessing,” she added. “Since I will not be working full time, this scholarship will allow me the opportunity to focus on my studies and relieve the financial aspect of being a full-time student. I am very grateful.”

Above: Yara Morgan (center) with daughters Lindsey Kees (left) and Allison Morgan. Below: Yara with grandchildren Bryce (left) and Nolan.

Inauguration activities and this new scholarship were made possible by:

  • Foundation sponsor Honeywell
  • Leadership sponsors Kansas City Royals and JE Dunn Construction
  • Gold sponsors Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Life and Mark One Electric Co.
  • Silver sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, CBIZ Inc., Gragg Advertising and Spencer Fane LLP
  • Bronze sponsors Arvest Bank, John Bargett & Associates Inc., Carolyn Watley, CommunityAmerica Credit Union, McCownGordon Construction, Above and Beyond Catering, Davis, Sands & Collins P.C. and Sumner One
  • Inauguration gifts from Foster Collins, Big T’s Bar-B-Q, Dr. Marian Shivers, Commerce Bank, Diane Henry and Gates Bar-B-Q