MCC honors two students with scholarships at Veterans Day luncheon

Standing proud and tall, Metropolitan Community College honored the veterans among its students, faculty and staff. They gathered at the annual Chancellor’s Veterans Day Scholarship Luncheon at MCC-Penn Valley on Nov. 12.

From left: Retired Rear Admiral J. Stanton Thompson, scholarship winners Steven Dinwiddie and David McHenry, MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty.

This year’s scholarship winners are MCC students Steven Dinwiddie and David McHenry.   The two veterans each received $2,500 to attend MCC.

  • Cpl. Steven Dinwiddie, U.S. Marine Corps
    • Dinwiddie is studying computer science at MCC-Penn Valley and plans to transfer to UMKC for his bachelor’s degree. He would like a career in aviation and hopes to work on drone programs and help develop more advanced artificial intelligence for improved flight performance.
  • Cpl. David McHenry, Missouri Army National Guard
    • McHenry is studying criminal justice police science. He hopes to obtain his bachelor’s degree and become a police chief of a medium-sized department or director of corporate security for a large company or hospital.

MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty and keynote speaker retired Rear Admiral J. Stanton Thompson presented the scholarships.

Dr. Kimberly Beatty

Dr. Beatty has a big heart for veterans.  She has a son who is serving in the Army.  And the scholarship is named in honor of her late father Reggie Helms, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

So far, Dr. Beatty says $20,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund.

“He was an extremely proud veteran,” Dr. Beatty says of her father.” I can’t think of any better way to honor him and his name than to honor students, our veteran students.”

Toya Jenkins

MCC military veterans were honored with the reading of a poem during the celebration.

Toya Jenkins, a learning specialist at MCC-Maple Woods, wrote the poem based on her experience. She was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

“I’m a Veteran Too” by Toya Jenkins

During his keynote address, Thompson shared stories from his time in the service. He served in Vietnam and later in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Thompson is on the National Advisory Board of the National World War I Museum and Memorial. During his speech he wore a replica uniform from World War I.  The scholarship luncheon coincided with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Retired Rear Admiral J. Stanton Thompson

Thompson spoke of the fierceness of the fighting. He says in the 11 months the United States was involved in World War I, about 54,000 Americans lost their lives in battle. He says that’s close to the number of U.S. servicemen killed during the nine years of the Vietnam War.

“The amount of conflict casualties during that conflict just boggles my mind.”

Thompson says World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars” but that clearly didn’t happen.  Fast forward to Thompson’s service during the Gulf War. He says a Saudi counterpart may have summed up our hopes to end war best: We should focus more on what we have in common than on what makes us different.

Dozens of local businesses participated in the Veterans Outreach Business Forum.

Veterans Outreach Business Forum

Before the luncheon, MCC welcomed local veterans who own businesses. At the third annual Outreach Business Forum For Those Who Have Served, veteran-owned enterprises learned how to do business with regional institutions and governmental entities.

MCC has more than 500 veterans currently enrolled and more than 20 veterans who are part of the College’s faculty and staff.