Elena Rivera

Elena Rivera is a graduate student at the University of Missouri with a focus in radio reporting. She has reported and produced stories on arts and culture, education and mental health for KBIA. She received a B.A. in Communication and International Studies from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Before coming to KBIA, Elena worked as the Career Development Specialist for a North Carolina non-profit called Dress for Success Triangle, which helped unemployed and underemployed women find jobs.

Elena Rivera

A new fee approved by Mizzou students in the spring will help fund expanded mental health services on campus over the coming school year. That's good news for the many students who seek out the MU Counseling Center each semester. 

“The only thing I wanted my freshman year was to be normal,” said Daniaja Davis. “I wanted to have a normal college experience. I thought I really wanted to get away from home, that was the mindset I was in. If I get away and start over, life will be swell.”

For Davis, a women and gender studies major at the University of Missouri, coming to college was a tough transition.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Over 300 faculty, staff and students filled Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union on MU’s campus to attend a budget forum led by MU Interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes on Monday afternoon.

Chris Yunker / Flickr

The American Library Association (ALA) released their 2017 report Monday on the state of libraries in the United States. The report highlighted national trends for library programming and focused on the increased role of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at libraries across the country.

In Columbia, both Ellis Library at the University of Missouri and the Daniel Boone Regional Library have increased STEM programming to help children and young adults expand their curiosity and creativity.

401K 2013 / Flickr

The Trump administration reversed previous guidance on the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) last Thursday.

The Obama administration put forth the guidance and stopped guarantor agencies from charging high fees on loan payments for students.

Students had to enter into a rehabilitation payment program within two months of defaulting on their loan to not be charged fees. According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than four million people who have FFELP loans are currently in default.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced plans to expand urgent mental healthcare treatment for former service members with other-than-honorable discharges last week. Currently, service members with other-than-honorable discharges are not eligible for any VA healthcare benefits. These new plans would mean around half a million former service members would be able to get care from the VA during mental health crises.


A couple of years ago, Fulton’s downtown Brick District was full of empty storefronts. Now jewelry and craft stores are taking over those vacancies and bringing new jobs and visitors to Fulton. These new businesses are part of Fulton’s continued revitalization project to improve economic growth in the community.

Petra Lataster-Czich and Peter Lataster

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest.


Directors Petra Lataster-Czich and Peter Lataster started out making Miss Kiet’s Children with the intention of creating a love letter to education as a profession. When they found their film’s subject, the stern yet compassionate primary school teacher Kiet Engels, they realized they were making a much different film than they planned.



The Missouri Department for Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that high school students in the state are scoring higher on their Advanced Placement (AP) exams than they were ten years ago. 

University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences/Flickr

The American Association of Universities (AAU) awarded a small grant to an interdisciplinary faculty team at the University of Missouri to develop undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

The grant proposal was written by Johannes Schul and Sarah Bush, both from the Division of Biological Sciences. They are a part of a team of nine faculty from eight different departments.

Rebecca Siegel / Flickr

The doors to Gwynn Hall keep locking behind Autumn McLain. She called maintenance, but in the meantime she is stretching to hold both doors open with her body. She is 20 minutes early to the MU Poetry Club meeting.

The group had fizzled out, but McLain and a group of friends brought it back in late January. Their first meeting was small, said McLain, just a few friends meeting in the library. Now, the club has grown to include people from majors including journalism and computer science.

Elena Rivera / KBIA

A group of teachers from Mid-Missouri gathered Monday outside Sen. Roy Blunt’s office in downtown Columbia to protest Betsy DeVos’ nomination for secretary of education.

Blunt said in a statement last week that he looks forward to working with DeVos, but the Senate has not yet cast a full vote. The Senate is still deliberating over DeVos’ nomination, but is expected to make a decision around noon today.

Teachers traveled from as far as Kansas City to urge Blunt to vote no on DeVos.


President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order temporarily stopping the entry of citizens from seven countries into the United States.

This included refugees from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In 2015, over 1,400 refugees settled in Missouri, and around one-third are from those seven countries, according to a report by the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Missouri organizations who serve refugees are uncertain on how this executive order will affect work going forward.

The Art House

Fulton, Missouri, is home to one of the most famous folk artists in the United States. Jesse Howard’s work hangs in the Smithsonian, but Fulton only recently started acknowledging the lasting impact his artwork has had on the country and the town.

Jesse Howard settled in Fulton in the early 1900s, on a farm outside of downtown. Howard almost always wore a uniform of bib overalls, work boots and a scrunched-up baseball hat.

Westminster College
The History Faculty / Flickr

The National Churchill Museum is set to open a new exhibit called “'Sinews of Peace': Power of Prose” on Thursday showcasing Winston Churchill’s complete draft of his “Iron Curtain” speech. The speech was given 70 years ago in the Historic Gym of Westminster College in Fulton.

Timothy Riley, Director and Chief Curator of the museum, said this exhibit is one of many things planned for the 70th anniversary of the speech.

“We’re using the entire year to really lift up and celebrate the occasion,” said Riley.