Public Affairs Academy Helps High School Students Make a Difference

Students leave the Academy ready to impact their community and the world.

SPRINGFIELD — “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is not only something every American strives for. It’s also the theme for the 2017 Missouri Public Affairs Academy (MPAA).

The academy gives high school students from all over Missouri the opportunity to make a difference with service projects, to learn from guest speakers and to engage with a wide curriculum focusing on issues at home and abroad.

An eight-day event beginning July 8, the academy starts with the students making their own social contract. One major component is the development of a “For the Greater Good” project.

“For the Greater Good” is a service project which each student creates to then implement in their own community. The projects are tied to what students learn at the academy and adapted for their specific community needs.

“The best part of the academy for me is hearing each student explain their “For the Greater Good” project,” Candace Fisk, director of the MPAA said, “It is always exciting to think about MSU’s public affairs mission playing out all across Missouri through these motivated students.”

Other events include sessions where speakers discuss the issues of poverty and sustainability, including a cleanup day at Jordan Valley Creek and an evening volunteering with Convoy of Hope.

“We have sessions that address the importance of dialogue and community in addressing needs in a community. As the academy progresses, the students hear opinions and points of view with which they may not agree, but which they are asked to consider, none-theless,” Fisk said.

Students will also head to the Missouri capital to learn about each branch of the government and meet with officials, including Supreme Court Judge Brent Powell, a graduate of Greenwood Laboratory School.

They will have a luncheon at the governor’s mansion where First Lady Sheena Greitens will speak. This will be only the second time that a sitting first lady will address the group.

Shawn Askinosie, Askinosie Chocolate founder, will be the Mel Carnahan Fellow at the academy. He will discuss his personal journey, his business model from “bean to bar,” and programs he has implemented to benefit cocoa farmers in Central America and Africa, as well as students in Springfield schools.

Students will present their projects, attend leadership forums and participate in the commissioning ceremony.

The academy “is a small program, but each year, talented and motivated rising high school seniors leave our campus with a genuine under-standing of MSU’s public affairs mission, ready to make a difference in their world,” Fisk said.

For more information, contact Fisk at 417-836-5946.