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Nov. 19, 2013
Almost since the day they stepped on campus and became Northwest Missouri State University students, Cody Uhing, Ashton Raffety and Dannen Merrill have taken hold of their desires to be involved and lead others – and the opportunities that Northwest affords students to do just that.
This fall, they serve as three of the leading voices for Northwest students, not only on the University campus but in the community. They work closely with University administrators and city leaders to make sure students’ views are understood.
While Uhing is Northwest’s Student Senate president, Raffety serves as the student regent, representing students on the University’s Board of Regents, a governing panel that sets general, educational and financial policies. Merrill is the Maryville student liaison – a position Uhing held last year – and represents Northwest students on the Maryville City Council.
“Having that opportunity to represent somebody besides yourself is a different experience,” said Uhing, a junior economics major from Tekamah, Neb. “You are no longer representing your interests; you are representing everyone else’s interests. Serving on different committees and being in those meetings and listening to different people around campus really opens your eyes to that.”
Though they came to Northwest with different backgrounds, each is driven by a desire to make a difference and enhance the University experience for their classmates. But the experiences they’ve had serving with their respective boards also have helped them develop their leadership skills and gain additional tools they will use in their professional careers.
“One day you might be sitting in a meeting like that, and it’s about how you handle yourself and what you do to prepare yourself,” said Merrill, a senior accounting and emergency and disaster management major.
A Maryville native, Merrill chose to attend Northwest, following a long line of family members who are Bearcats, because he saw opportunities for him that didn’t exist at other campuses he had visited. In leadership roles at Northwest, he’s learned to manage expense accounts, problem solve and guide operations.
“Seeing the older members in my fraternity move up and hold different positions at the University, I saw how important that is not only for the fraternity to stay involved on campus but for personal growth as well,” Merrill said. “I have progressively taken on a different position each year and moved up.”
At Northwest, he serves as treasurer of the Cardinal Key Honor Society, assistant director for St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn and president of the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society. Previously, he was treasurer and house manager for Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and he co-chaired Northwest’s 2012 Homecoming. He’s active in Northwest’s National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and Delta Mu Delta Honor Society – all while maintaining a near-perfect grade-point average.
Raffety, a junior economics major from Drexel, also was an active high school student and developed his interest in government there. When Northwest’s student regent position opened shortly after Raffety arrived at the University, he didn’t let his freshman status hold him back and applied.
“To get a governor-appointed position, I thought that was really cool,” said Raffety, who also is the vice president of Northwest’s Student Senate this fall. His two-year term as student regent expires Dec. 31. “I was really up for the challenge, and I am really glad I did it. It has probably been the best experience of my life so far.”
Additionally, in September, Raffety organized a meeting in Jefferson City of student leaders from each of the of the state’s four-year, public universities with the goal of exchanging ideas. Over a 24-hour period, the students shared a dinner with Missouri’s Coordinating Board of Higher Education (CBHE) and discussed issues facing their campuses.
“We got the chance to talk one-on-one with members of the CBHE about their past experiences in higher education and what they do as members of the CBHE,” Raffety said. “Just by being there and being as engaging as we were, we really showed them that students do care about what is happening in higher education.”
Similarly, Uhing was a student class representative during his high school years and competed in speech and debate contests. At Northwest, he quickly joined Student Senate and was elected as a class representative as a freshman and sophomore. This year, he works in the Office of the President, in addition to upholding his responsibilities as Student Senate president.
Uhing, Raffety and Merrill agree the opportunities provided at Northwest, unlike other universities, allow students like them to lead and succeed.
“Being able to see the impact you have on students on campus and the community really is what drove me to do more,” Uhing said. “I have so many opportunities to advance if I just want to take the initiative and do it.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468