Award recipients photo
West Plains MSU graduates Morgan Spoor, left, and Weston Phipps each received the MSU Citizen Scholar Award this year.

Missouri State University-West Plains graduate Weston Phipps of Houston was among six students who received a Missouri State University’s 2021-2022 Citizen Scholar Award on Thursday, Dec. 16.

The awards were presented by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at the group’s regular meeting in Springfield.

Established in fall 2007, the award is given annually to students “who exemplify the concept of a citizen scholar,” university officials said.

“We’re thrilled that two of our Missouri State-West Plains graduates are receiving the Citizen Scholar Award this year, the first time for that to occur in the award program’s 15-year history,” said MSU-WP Chancellor Dennis Lancaster.

 Phipps received an associate degree in general studies with a specialization in honors from MSU-WP in May 2018, graduating magna cum laude. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in December 2020, graduating cum laude, and is working on a master’s degree in experimental psychology with a certificate in statistics at the Springfield campus. He plans to complete a PhD program in clinical psychology, practice therapy and teach psychology at a university.

During his time at MSU-WP, Phipps was a member of the Future Alumni Organization, Student Government Association, Student Ambassadors and Pre-Health Professions Club. He also participated in the China Semester Study Abroad Program and traveled with the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program oversees for cultural and service learning opportunities.

“During his time here at MSU-WP, Weston was the ideal example for student engagement,” his nominator said. “He invested his time in student organizations, student committees, volunteering, presenting at conferences and studying abroad. His spirit of service seems to be at the forefront of his academic and professional ambitions.”

The nominator pointed to Phipps’ volunteer work with the West Plains community following severe flooding in the spring of 2017, as well as his work at the West Plains Regional Animal Shelter. While in China, the nominator said, Phipps accumulated over 300 hours of volunteer work assisting Chinese students with conversational English. He also provided over 40 hours of volunteer work at an environmental sustainability program in the Dominican Republic and over 60 hours of medical experience as part of a fellowship program in Greece.

“I am most impressed with his flood relief work,” the nominator said. “He wasn’t from West Plains, and no one compelled him to serve. He already had the required volunteer hours for the honors program, and the work didn’t connect to his future professional goals. He served our town merely because it was needed. People needed him, and that was all it required for Weston to help.

“He is humble, and his service to others comes from a place of duty. He does not flaunt his achievements because he believes service is the floor of expectations. He finds that knowledge, wisdom and education are privileges, so he has a moral duty to help others with his own blessing. I only ever see a few students like Weston.”

About the award

The Citizen Scholar Award is given to students who have contributed to the university, advanced the university’s public affairs mission, and have significantly engaged in extra-curricular accomplishments and/or in significant service activities to the community.

Each recipient receives a crystal globe in recognition of the award, and their names are added to the Citizen Scholar Wall at Plaster Student Union on the Springfield campus.

More information about the Citizen Scholar Award is available online at

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