Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation Partnership Continues to Grow

Maryville University is leading a revolution in higher education, and could not do it without outstanding partners like the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. Working together, Maryville and the Foundation are helping students who attend after-school programs at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center in East St. Louis achieve in academics, athletics and leadership.

A major focus over the past year has been providing technology services for the computer lab at the Community Center. Students use the computer lab for schoolwork and after-school enrichment activities as well as for games and personal tasks. Many students do not have access to computers at home, and the lab ensures students achieve digital fluency.

“Today and in the future, technology skills are a must,” said Mark Fryer, chief operating officer for the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. “Our students need to be able to navigate the internet, understand where to find information and how to communicate and solve problems using technology.”

Keeping the lab safe and secure is a top priority for the Foundation, Fryer said, but is complicated by limited budgetary and personnel resources. Maryville has met this need by providing technology services free of charge, thanks to cybersecurity students working in the state-of-the-art Cyber Fusion Center (CFC). The CFC is managed by faculty experts and staffed by teams of students enrolled in designated cyber security classes.

Under the leadership of Stacy Hollins, PhD, assistant dean for the Simon School of Business and associate professor of information systems, Maryville students first worked on upgrading hardware and software in the computer lab. They also provided three laptops for Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center staff to use. The equipment upgrades were part of the CFC’s Tech Bar initiative.

Later, Maryville students set up web filtering and monitoring of the computers under the guidance of Kurt Aubuchon, MBA, assistant professor of cybersecurity. The student-led project first involved researching solutions and submitting a proposal to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation for approval. The Maryville students then piloted the solution on a select number of computers and create a standard operating procedure, before implementing the solution across the entire lab. The project will serve as a model for future CFC clients.

“Our cybersecurity students are gaining real-world experiences they can take into the professional world,” Aubuchon said. “For a lot of our students, this kind of project is exactly what they will be doing in their careers. We are helping build their confidence before they enter the workforce.”

Additionally, students from the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center visited the Maryville campus to learn more about college life and how they can make their higher education dreams a reality. The event kicked off with an interactive learning styles inventory led by Maryville’s Life Coach team. After completing the assessment and identifying their strengths, the children put their knowledge to the test by creating origami flowers out of colorful paper.

The group then spent time with the Maryville wrestling team in the Dojo, learned about cyber security in the Cyber Fusion Center and explored Myrtle E. and Earl E. Walker Hall, including stops in the exercise science lab and the nursing simulation lab. The day concluded with dinner in Gander Dining Hall featuring a Q&A session with Maryville admissions counselors.

“Maryville has been a great resource for us, and a great partner,” Fryer said. “Maryville staff, faculty and students provide knowledge and expertise in a number of areas. The partnership benefits our students and also benefits Maryville students. I call that a win-win!”

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