In his speech in Warrensburg, President Barack Obama praised a Missouri program that allows selected high school students to graduate from college early and gain work experience as they do so.
“I want other colleges to take a look at what's being done here,” Obama said.
Launched in 2012, Missouri Innovation Campus is a collaboration between Warrensburg’s University of Central Missouri, Metropolitan Community College and Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. The program’s curriculum focuses on giving students technology and engineering skills, partnering up with tech companies such as Cerner and DST Systems to provide students with paid internships.
Beginning in junior year in high school, selected students take college-level classes at the community college to earn associate degrees. If they fulfill the curriculum, the students can get a bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Missouri within two years.
The program also helps students pay for their education through paid internships, tuition forgiveness, shared tuition and low-interest loan programs.
Brian Green, a student enrolled in Missouri Innovation Campus and a senior at the Summit Technology Academy, introduced Obama before his speech in Warrensburg.
“It’s not every day you come home from work and you get a call saying ‘Hey, you’re going to introduce the president, by the way,’” Green said. “I kind of had to sit down, pinch my arm.”
Green is part of the first 19-student cohort of the Missouri Innovation Campus. He’s close to getting his associate degree and is completing a paid internship at Cerner.
Green said he’s from a middle-class family and would definitely have to take out student loans to go to college. He said the fact that the innovation campus program helps pay for school is the biggest factor in his decision to enroll in the program.
Protecting the American middle class was the main theme in Obama’s speech in Warrensburg.
“Things were skewed too much to folks who are already blessed, already lucky,” he said.