University Innovation Fellows (UIF) is a program that trains college students to foster creativity and change at their schools. The program has trained students on over 100 campuses across the nation. Fellows hope to create a lasting impact on their campuses.
At William Jewell College, there are UIF members ranging in year and discipline. Landon Young is the overseeing faculty of Jewell’s Fellows. They are all working on different projects to promote positive change on our campus, utilizing the training they have received as members of the program.
“I joined UIF to make the connections and learn to think through a different lens,” said Gretchen Mayes, junior accounting and communication major.
Mayes and the rest of the UIF team are working to expand the entrepreneurial and innovative mindset on campus.
Macy Tush, sophomore physics major, is focusing on the connections between students and faculty. She hopes to highlight the passions that WJC faculty have and share them with students so we can be more informed about what goes on in their lives outside of Jewell.
“We have some incredible professors here at Jewell. However, there is a disconnect between professors and the success they are having outside of the classroom and the students that are not in their discipline,” said Tush.
Tush’s project is to implement a way to bridge the communication gap in order for students in all disciplines to be familiar with the faculty and feel comfortable going to them for help.
Ben Shinogle, junior English and political science major, has geared his project toward solving the programming miscommunications between student leaders and the rest of campus. Shinogle has found that, in his experience, a very small percentage of the student body consistently shows up to scheduled events on campus.
“This is concerning to me; after all, social activities and celebrations are a central component to college life,” said Shinogle.
Through some thorough analysis, Shinogle has come up with ideas as to why this problem continues to occur.
“After dozens of interviews, my thinking regarding the problem has evolved significantly and I have several ideas of varying sophistication in mind,” said Shinogle.
Shinogle believes the problem may stem from student apathy towards programming or overbooking students with too many events. He plans to put these hypotheses to action in order to try to solve the issue.
Alex Holden, junior economics, communication, psychology, philosophy major and ACT-In major, has chosen to perform quantitative psychology research on student happiness at the College.
“I’m happy at Jewell, and I want everyone else to be happy,” said Holden.
Holden is looking at possible causes for student unhappiness and wants to know what keeps students happy at Jewell. He will use this information to come up with a solution to increase happiness at the College.
Trevor Nicks, senior biochemistry major, is interested in the way that WJC prepares its students for the world and how students are taught during their time at the College.
“I originally joined UIF because I thought it would provide me a platform on which I could speak about public education inequality in the state of Missouri, something I’m very passionate about,” said Nicks.
For his project, Nicks is utilizing edx.org, an online learning platform created by Harvard and Massachusetts Institution of Technology. He is going to use this program to create specialized learning experiences for Jewell students who take part in independent studies.
“[edx.org] is a way for people to gain an in-depth understanding of their degrees’ content but also have a broad knowledge base and skill set,” said Nicks.
So what is the point of becoming a fellow?
Fellows at Jewell find that UIF pushes them out of their disciplines and requires them to interact with students and faculty with whom they would not otherwise be involved. This is not limited to on-campus interactions.
“We went to Virginia for a meet up with the other fellows, and I met people from Portland, Canada, South Dakota and the East Coast. Instead of knowing people regionally, I am meeting people from around the continent,” said Holden.
Fellows also look at our campus in a new light in order to make sustainable change at our school.
“We are trained to look at campus in a new and innovative way. This gives us the ability to find creative ways to make our campus better,” said Tush.
UIF provides students with opportunities for progress and the chance to meet other people who share their passions.
“What I really enjoy about UIF is the opportunities it provides me with. Already I’ve met students from around the world and employers from all over the country that are passionate about innovation. The conversations I’ve had with them and the resulting projects and thoughts have been my favorite part of UIF,” said Nicks.
In order to become a fellow, an application and faculty recommendation are required. After the applications are reviewed, certain applicants will move onto an interview round. To learn more about UIF and the opportunities it can provide, go to universityinnovationfellows.org.