Student Stories – Aaron Some

With 20,000+ students spread across our 40 campus centers throughout the country, there are a lot of great stories waiting to be told. Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing a series of guest bloggers that will share their Park University stories with you. The first contributor to our series is junior Aaron Some.


My name is Aaron Cesario Some. I am currently an International Business major in my junior year at Park University. I am originally from Burkina Faso, a wonderful country located in West Africa. My father used to work for an international NGO and that made my family move from one county to another quite often. I spent childhood in Ivory Coast, and my teenage years in Togo, but I didn’t have the luck to be born earlier to have the chance to live in France like my brother and my sister did. In 2001 when I moved to Togo with my family, I attended a private British school called the British School of Lome. That was where I learned how to speak English, and I graduated high school in 2012.

2012 was also the year I first came to the U.S. My freshman year of college was at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. I enjoyed studying at the University of Charleston, but I felt that it wasn’t the place. My first semester at the University of Charleston was a disaster due to the grades I got, and that was my mistake. I took six classes and didn’t put in enough effort, so I ended the semester with a bad GPA. My second semester I worked harder to boost my GPA, and due that first semester I am still working very hard to reach my target cumulative GPA of 3.7. (That’s why students need to make sure they make the right decisions when he are in college, and they should not overload themselves with classes in order to get their degree as fast as possible.)

I came to the Kansas City area for the first time to visit friends that were students at Park during the summer of 2013. I had my summer vacations before them, so when I got here they still had classes, and I had a little taste of a regular day at Park University. People were so welcoming and friendly that I had no problem integrating. Before the end of the summer I made my decision of transferring to Park University. The whole application and admission process took about a month, and by the end of the holidays I was a Park Pirate.

School of Education Seeking Comments

The School of Education at Park University is hosting an accreditation visit by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) October 26 through 28, 2014. Interested parties are invited to submit third-party comments to the visiting team. Please note that comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of professional education programs offered, and should specify the party’s relationship to the educator preparation provider (EPP) (i.e., graduate, present or former faculty member, employer of graduates).

We invite you to submit written testimony to:

Board of Examiners
2010 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036-1023
Or by email to:

Correspondence, which must be received by NCATE no later than three months prior to visit, will be submitted to the EPP for response via NCATE’s Accreditation Information Management System (AIMS). NCATE will not upload anonymous comments to the BOE team or EPPs.

Science At Park – Then and Now

On this #ThrowbackThursday, we wanted to take a dip into the archives. 88 years ago today, Dr. R. L. Edwards, a professor of physics at Park College, penned an article that spoke passionately about the recently-opened Wakefield Science Hall. He praised not only the aesthetic merits of the new building, but also the instruments available for teaching.

“In its appearance it is beautiful, and those of us who have been working in the various science departments consider it unsurpassed from the standpoint of utility.”

Although the building boasted a Foucault Pendulum and a collection of special-current switchboards, both of which were outstanding for their time, it was another large-scale innovation that set Park’s new building apart. In one of the newly-finished lecture halls, Park’s physics department had left a 12-foot wide opening in the front wall, just above the blackboard. Set into this opening was a frosted glass scale, and in the adjoining storage room, a small-scale galvanometer had been mounted to the opposite wall. The indicator arm had been modified to accept a shop-built light fixture that displayed the instrument readings to the entire lecture hall. The instrument was described as “so sensitive that the current generated by merely placing two wires in one’s mouth turns the indicating beam of light across a scale twelve feet long,” and visible from any seat in the room.

Although this technology has been surpassed somewhat by smart boards and projectors, Park still strives to keep abreast of the latest in technology.

Recently, Park added a scanning electron microscope to the selection of tools available for student use. Far from the large-scale impact of the galvanometer, the new apparatus allows students to examine items at the molecular level. But like Park’s original innovation, it opens new worlds for our students and prepares them for success after their time at Park.

Photo of a JEOL JSM-5900 Scanning Electron Microscope

In the basement of Wakefield-Findley Hall sits the latest addition to Park University’s collection of scientific tools.

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KC Chamber Fly-In Recap

Earlier this week, Erik Bergrud, associate vice president of constituent engagement for Park University was part of the delegation for the biennial KC Chamber Washington D.C. Fly-In. The three-day (April 28-30) trip gives leaders throughout the greater Kansas City area the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the lawmakers serving the region. We sat down with Erik for a brief recap of his trip.

How long has Park University been involved with the KC Chamber?
Park’s been a chamber member for years, and I’ve been actively involved with the Chamber’s legislative committee since I returned to Park in 2005.

How did you become involved in this year’s Fly-In?
I attended the fly-in two years ago, and I think it’s a great opportunity for all Kansas City organizations, including higher education institutions, to get to know their elected officials more personally, and to know the key issues that impact our students and our institution.

Are there any other institutions as involved as Park University?
The fly-in occurs every other year, so the last time we went was in 2012. During the 2012 trip, if memory serves, there were three academic institutions on the trip – KU Med, UMKC and us – but this time I was the only one there.

On the surface, only one piece Chamber’s message plan directly affects higher education. Why was it so important for Park to be represented?
Let me look at that in two ways: in terms of the issues that were involved, and also in terms of Park’s position in the broader civic community.

In terms of the issues, there are a couple of key issues that affect the university in total. There’s talk in Washington about what’s going to happen with the military and veterans. As you know, we had the government shutdown that impacted our students in the fall and there’s discussion about drawdown of troop levels and the impact it will have on military installations in 2015. Obviously, we’re paying close attention since we have campus centers in 21 states. This is a big issue for Park University.

We also heard – even though it wasn’t in the formal agenda of why we went to DC – that the Higher Education Act is going to be reauthorized in the next couple of years, and that there’s been discussion throughout Washington about creating a federal scorecard for universities. We were able to be a part of this discussion, and have a question and answer session with our elected officials.

Looking at the broader civic community, the fact that we were the only higher education institution there was significant because it allowed me time to get to know better executives – in some cases CEOs – of Kansas City corporations. That has multiple benefits for the university, particularly when looking at career opportunities for our students and alumni.

What are the takeaways?
I’ve already been able to brief Park’s executive staff on some of the big discussion items from Washington. But there are other issues that affect Park University as an employer and an organization that aren’t necessarily related to higher education. For example – changes in the utility market which are predicted could have an impact on the electricity bills that Park pays, and ultimately that’s a bottom line question.

We also will be watching closely the elections coming this fall and how that might change who is in control on Capitol Hill. One of the big takeaways we heard from this trip is that the executive branch – regardless of who’s in power come next January – will probably get a little bit more assertive in terms of what they can and can’t do. So we’re going to look very closely at what the Department of Education does and what some of the other agencies do in terms of regulations that could impact us and/or our students.

Group Photo Of KC Chamber Fly-In Delegation

Members of the KC Chamber Fly-In delegation pose with congressional staffers for a group photo. In addition to Park’s Erik Bergrud, the delegation included KC Chamber President and CEO Jim Heeter; Dane Stangler, Vice President – Research & Policy for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and Abigail Wendel, Senior Vice President/Director of Investor & Government Relations for UMB Financial Corporation.

Conquer The College Application Process (Part 2)

Tomorrow, we’ll be hosting incoming freshmen of the Class of 2018 in the second of three “Get On Board” days, and as the college selection process wraps up for these students, we wanted to share the second half of our ten tips to conquer the college application process. Admissions office staff at Park University in Parkville, Mo., high school students, Park students and a parent recently weighed in on what they’ve learned from their journey into the Land of the Most Amazing College Application Process Ever. (spoiler alert: it’s STILL not scary):

6. Take the ACT… Again
James Boyer is a home-schooled senior in Kansas City, Mo. His one piece of advice for applicants is to focus on the ACT, which, like most students, he ended up taking more than once. Most scholarships are highly competitive, high-stakes endeavors where ACT scores count. In the end, James was awarded a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Park. “I started early and did a lot of work,” he said.

7. Don’t Fear the Application
Andrew Baxley, a Park admissions counselor, says that Park has simplified its application process. “We try to make the process as unintimidating and easy for students as possible. There’s a lot of fear about it but it’s really straight forward.”

8. Visit
In addition to tours throughout the year, Park sponsors several “Pirate Preview” days that connect faculty representatives from every department with prospective students. (For more information – check out

James Boyer said Pirate Preview gave him the best insight into what Park was really like. “I visited with a business faculty member and I could tell he really cared about students. I got a sense of the whole atmosphere at Park. Applicants should do more than just browse a college’s website.”

Sadie Mohr, a fifth-year Park senior from Hale, Mo., recalls her campus visit. “It was right after a heavy snow and the campus was absolutely breathtaking. I was interested already in Park but the campus tour intensified my interest.”

9. Honor Your Instincts
This brings up a more subjective tip: honor your gut feelings when it comes to making a decision. Anna Menninger was accepted by other institutions but visited Park and connected immediately. “I’m very nature oriented and I loved all the trees. I had this feeling that this is where I was supposed to go.” Menninger urged applicants to ask themselves, “Do I feel comfortable here?”

10. For Parents: Network and Do Timelines
Joanna Boyer is a parent who has benefited from going through the college application process twice, first with her oldest son, now a sophomore at Park, and most recently with James. She felt she was at a disadvantage with the first go-round having gone to college under a different system in Canada. Her solution was not unlike that recommended for students: she gathered information.

“I got in touch with people in my community and interviewed them,” she said. “My advice? Find a few parents who have been successful, network and do as much research as you can.”

This brings us back to our first tip. Parents, start early. Develop a timeline when your child’s in the ninth grade. “Have a sense of the system and get a head start on gathering materials,” Joanna Boyer said. “Having the big picture early on really helps.”

Parents are vital partners in the whole college application journey, she feels. “My husband and I did everything we were invited to. I really appreciated that about Park, that they are focused on the family and included everyone in the process.”

Photo of the Registration Desk

Conquer The College Application Process

Park University hosted the first of three “Get On Board” days on April 11, welcoming incoming freshmen of the Class of 2018 to campus to take care of a lot of the final steps in the college application process. But it was just the culmination of a long process, equal parts unnerving and exhilarating. Students run a daunting gauntlet of deadlines, ACT tests, application essays, campus visits and life-changing decisions. Parents walk the line that separates encouragement and support from hovering and hounding.

Admissions office staff at Park University in Parkville, Mo., high school students, Park students and a parent recently weighed in on what they’ve learned from their journey into the Land of the Most Amazing College Application Process Ever. Here are some of their tips to help students and parents survive (spoiler alert: it’s not all scary):

1. Start Early
Admissions professionals encourage students to start looking at colleges their freshman year of high school. According to Katherine Springston, assistant director of daytime admissions at Park, students should not only take classes that will best prepare them for college but be cognizant of their GPA and its role in winning scholarships. “By the junior year, it’s time to get serious and narrow down the list of potential schools,” she said.

2. Diversify Your List
Anna Menninger, a Park sophomore from Platte City, Mo., recalls that her list of six potential colleges included institutions large, small, public and private. “You need a mix. You might think you like one thing and then discover you don’t,” she said. She chose Park when she realized she preferred small. “My friends in high school went to big schools, but after two visits to Park, I knew it was the right choice for me.”

3. Keep an Open Mind
High school senior Haley Weatherford of Lee’s Summit, Mo., was intent on “getting out of Missouri” for college. But then she attended a local college fair where she met a Park representative. “What really knocked my socks off was that Park didn’t talk to me like I was a potential recruit but because I was Haley and they liked me,” she said. “The rep asked me to fill out a card ‘because I want to know you.’”
Contrary to her original intent, Weatherford ended up applying only to Park. She also received a scholarship covering tuition and housing for four years and a study abroad stipend.

4. Know What’s Important
Students should make a list of what’s important, students who’ve been there say. On-campus housing, small classes, close to home? Athletics, access to public transportation and shopping?
“The role of Admissions counselors is to really understand applicants,” Springston said. “It’s not just about the GPA but about the fit. At Park we look for students who see the potential in themselves and are motivated to get involved in campus life.”

5. Ask Questions
Students sometimes fail to ask questions, especially if they’re the first members of their family to attend college. “If a student doesn’t feel like asking an admissions counselor, they should ask their high school guidance counselor,” Springston said. “They’re going to need a little extra bit of help, especially with financial aid processes. My advice? Use the resources around you.”

Check out the gallery of photos from our first Get On Board day for a taste of what it’s like. And make sure you come back next week as we bring you the rest of our top ten tips to making the college application process the best time of your life!


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Writing Competency Test To Have New “Pirate” Requirement

Starting today, April 1, Park University has announced the Writing Competency Test will be required to be written in “Pirate English.” The test is designed to ensure students know how to structure, cite and write essays and research papers, and is a graduation requirement for all students.

Emily Donnelli-Sallee, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate professor of English, said, “Standard edited English is a barnacle from which students need to be freed. I fully support Park’s move to require students to write in Pirate-ese on the Writing Competency Test. This requirement will not only build dialectical flexibility but also prepare students for high-demand careers in the seafaring professions.”

Park University administrators concur that because of the popularity of Facebook’s option to have a user’s newsfeed in “Pirate-ese” and because the University has a pirate as a mascot, it only made sense that students learn how to properly write and speak “Pirate.” This also ties into Park’s Promise to prepare students for a global society and be ready to properly “gab” during International Talk Like A Pirate Day, which this year will be celebrated on Friday, Sept. 19.

Upon learning of the new requirements, Park’s mascot Sir George was at a loss for words and had tears in his eyes, only providing a “thumbs up” gesture in appreciation.

Photo of Park's Mascot, Sir George, giving a thumbs-up.

Park University’s mascot, Sir George, expresses his approval for the recently announced change to Park’s Writing Competency Test. (Credit – Park University)