MSSU announces Beacon of Hope Award recipients

JOPLIN, Mo. – Campus officials announced the winners of the Dr. Al Cade Beacon of Hope Service award during a brief ceremony at Missouri Southern State University.

Named in honor of the former dean of the College of Education, the awards honor an individual student and a student group who have contributed an extraordinary level of dedication and leadership on and off-campus.

Student winner

The winner of the individual student award is Riley Lavar. Laver is a senior international business major who loves being involved and demonstrates leadership through volunteering.

Lavar has been a great impact on and off-campus by:

  • serving as a lion ambassador
  • captaining the MSSU women’s soccer team
  • contributing as vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council
  • volunteering at Petco, Souls Harbor, Watered Gardens, the Joplin Humane Society, and local churches

“Coming to Joplin, I didn’t realize how much power giving people your time could have,” said Laver. “I just figured if I had time, I might as well do something useful with it. I’m so grateful to have met so many amazing people. They have all inspired me to keep trying to make an impact in the world.”

Student Group winner

The recipient of the student group award is the Missouri Southern Softball team. This is the second year in a row they won the award.

The team focused on volunteering within the community to make an impact. The softball program racked up 350 hours of community service. That averages out to 19.4 hours per student-athlete.

Volunteer efforts from the team include:

  • cleaning up the Grand Falls area
  • helping during the Walk to End Alzheimers event
  • volunteering for the Ronald McDonald Big Red Shoe run

“I am very proud of our student-athletes for sacrificing their time and energy for the SWMO Community,” said head softball coach Hallie Blackney. “We believe in being champions in the classroom, in the community, and on the field. Lions everywhere can be proud of who this team is.”