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April 27, 2017
Bryan O’Neal believes that an individual who is valued, believed in and cared about, is more likely to succeed in their work – a concept he’s proven during his academic career at Northwest Missouri State University.
O’Neal grew up on a farm with his grandparents, who taught him that if he wanted something, he needed to work hard, and he could achieve it.
“The idea that there are no shortcuts in life has made me an achiever,” he said. “I knew that, through hard work and dedication, I could become someone who would make a difference. That is why I aspired to become a teacher.”
O’Neal chose Northwest because he knew he needed to attend a university that offered small classes sizes and individualized attention in order to be successful.
“I wanted to engage with other students and work together on projects because I really thrive in a collaborative and diverse environment,” he said.
In addition to working hard, O’Neal learned that being involved on campus paves the way to a successful career. He was active with the Council for Exceptional Children, Student Missouri State Teachers Association, National Society of Leadership and Success and as president of the South Complex Hall Council for two years.
“We all know that in today’s job market, just having a college degree is not always enough,” he said. “Employers love to see that you can go above and beyond.”
This spring, O’Neal is studying abroad in Finland, where he is a student teacher for kids enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grades. He is living with other study abroad students and learning about their diverse backgrounds and the Finnish culture.
“I chose Finland because they offer less formal schooling,” O’Neal said. “Students take less tests and homework, which allows for more participation. It’s an amazing experience to be able to take what I’ve learned from Northwest and implement it in Finland. I’m really excited to have this experience and to also take the things that I learned in Finland back home with me.”
O’Neal, of King City, Missouri, graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in cross categorical and elementary education.
He believes Northwest has prepared him for a successful career and for life.
“I gained skills that cannot be taught,” he said. “Through interactions with students, professors, staff and coworkers, I earned a degree in people and social skills that I never signed up for.”
As O’Neal completes his degree, he advises future students to leave an impact.
“Don’t just be proud of your college, make your college proud to have you” he said. “Many students fail to go the extra mile, and a frequent regret is that they didn’t contribute more to their campus when they had the chance. Try to be one of those students who your professors and classmates will remember in years to come.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468