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Alum Finds New Perspectives, New Growth

byCarol Best

Kassidy (Ritchel ’14) Chuning worked hard and played hard. During high school, she played basketball and volleyball while maintaining a coveted GPA. Strong family values were woven into the fabric of her childhood. For the most part, she was expected to find her own resources to pay for college.

It’s said that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Kassidy was playing basketball for her high school, when she met Jon Lewis, head coach of women’s basketball at MNU. He offered her a scholarship with an opportunity to play on the team. Paired with an academic scholarship, it seemed things were falling into place.

A university that worked just as hard as she did.
During her first semester, Kassidy felt like it was “too good to be true.” The warmth of the friendly campus combined with the commitment of professors who worked toward her success was almost overwhelming. She found them just as invested in her success as she was. It seemed there were no barriers between departments, only a sense of cooperation and community. It made it easier to juggle her interests in becoming an educator and playing the sport that brought her to MNU.

“It was odd for me to consider a faith-based university,” Kassidy said. “I didn’t grow up in a religious home, but I’ve come to really embrace it.”

Professors do more than teach, they model leadership.
Although Kassidy was successful at both sports and academics, as an English language arts education major, she felt vulnerable in the classroom.

“The idea of standing up in front of high schoolers pushed me outside my comfort zone,” she reflected.

Her professors walked her through it, so that she could concentrate on more important things than handling nerves. She began her teaching practicum, with observation in the classroom, then preparing lesson plans and later delivering them. As she continued her studies, she concluded that leaders think outside the box. Kassidy says she was taught to ask two questions that she now applies to many of life’s situation; “What is the purpose it’s serving?” and “How can I make it better?”

With these principles in mind, Kassidy, now an English teacher at Truman High School (her alma mater) in Independence, Missouri, uses a technique called story core to help her students develop their creative skills. She plans to speak at a conference this fall about its success in her classroom. She shares her excitement with her professors, who still remain a part of her life.

Kassidy acknowledges, “MNU opened my eyes to other perspectives that helped me develop a balanced outlook. They have taken my family’s good values, building on them further and challenging me to be a better a person in all facets of my life. MNU is a university where all types of people flourish.”

Kassidy hasn’t forgotten her first love. She continues her involvement in sports as Truman High School’s girls’ basketball coach. Speaking of love, Kassidy met and married the love of her life, Austin, at Truman where he teaches science. After remodeling their new home, Kassidy thinks she’ll sit back, relax and enjoy life before taking on her next adventure.

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