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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Grant Venable, a 2005 Northwest graduate, is applying the leadership, organizational and communications skills he learned at the University as a volunteer for Be the Change Volunteers, a non-profit organization that builds and supports schools, communities and governments in developing countries. Venable, pictured in the center during a recent visit to Malawi, regularly wears Bearcat gear during his trips.

Grant Venable, a 2005 Northwest graduate, is applying the leadership, organizational and communications skills he learned at the University as a volunteer for Be the Change Volunteers, a non-profit organization that builds and equips schools in developing countries. Venable, pictured in the center with Be The Change Volunteers co-founders Jimi and Cristi Cook during a recent visit to Malawi, regularly wears Bearcat gear during his trips. (Submitted photos)

Oct. 12, 2012

Alumnus volunteers to build schools, promotes Northwest

By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant

Venable poses for a photo with two other Bearcats -- his wife, Rachel, and 2006 Northwest graduate Trisha Thomas -- during a service project with Be The Change Volunteers to build a two-classroom school in Kenya.

Venable poses for a photo with two other Bearcats -- his wife, Rachel, and 2006 Northwest graduate Trisha Thomas -- during a service project with Be The Change Volunteers to build a two-classroom school in Kenya.

It isn’t unusual to see alumnus Grant Venable’s Facebook timeline flooded with pictures of him and other volunteers building schools and working with communities in developing countries. The passion with which he works on these projects is the reason behind his huge smile in every picture, and his appreciation of a Northwest Missouri State University education is the reason behind the Bearcat shirts he wears.

“I always take some Northwest swag on my projects and love to tell kids that if they work hard in school, someday they might be able to go to Northwest,” Venable said.

Venable, a 2005 graduate living in Fort Collins, Colo., began working with Be the Change Volunteers in 2010. He was working with a school in India, and needed a non-profit to help construct a soccer field and playground. Venable connected with Be the Change Volunteers co-founder Jimmy Cook to complete the project, and he has been part of the organization ever since.

“A lot of the work I do is planning events, projects, making sure our plans are going to succeed, and letting our board know if a project is something we should pursue,” Venable said. “Then we lead teams of 10 to 20 people on builds.”

About half of Venable’s time is spent volunteering with Be the Change Volunteers, which has taken him to countries such as India, Kenya and Papua New Guinea. The other half is devoted to independent contracting and healthcare communications consulting work. His wife, Rachel, who also attended Northwest, is completing her residency in veterinary oncology. After that, Venable, driven by his enthusiasm for making a positive difference, hopes to exclusively volunteer with Be the Change Volunteers.

“I truly believe that we can provide the entire world with at least a primary or a skilled education,” Venable said. “I think we can do it in our lifetime at the rate that all the organizations together are working.”

As a public relations major at Northwest, Venable was encouraged and motivated by professors in the communications department. As an alumnus, he uses leadership, organizational and communications skills to recruit volunteers, plan builds and interact with schools, communities and governments in developing countries.

Recruiting is a full-time job for Venable, who always seems ready to tell somebody about Be the Change Volunteers.

“I want people to go because it will change your life if you go,” Venable said. “You will learn so much about the community, but you’ll also learn so much about yourself. You’ll push yourself and learn that you can do things that you may have never imagined like building and equipping a school.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468