Student Success Story: Tony Ary

Missouri State-West Plains Student Success Story

New Beginnings … Endless Possibilities

Tony AryTony Ary

Tony Ary has made it his mission to prove a point – it doesn't matter what your background is, you can be successful!

As a Latino/native Hawaiian, Ary knew certain stereotypes pegged him for failure. "My main drive has always been to prove the stereotype that it's harder for minorities to succeed was wrong and I felt the best place to start that journey was at Missouri State University-West Plains," the 2010 Thayer High School graduate said.

In fall 2010, he enrolled at Missouri State-West Plains intent on being successful, not only in class but also in life. He quickly made friends and became involved in campus activities through such student organizations as the Student Government Association, Tri-Lambda student spirit squad, Christian Campus House and as a member and eventual captain of the Grizzly Cheer Team. His involvement and leadership earned him recognition from Who's Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges and the University's Multicultural/International Leadership Award.

Ary graduated from Missouri State-West Plains in May 2012 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree and he is currently taking classes toward a Bachelor of Science in General Business, with a minor in finance, through Missouri State University's Outreach program on the West Plains campus. Ultimately, he said, he would like to find a job as a financial analyst, preferably in a hospital's business office, since his wife, Kristi, is working on her Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care degree at Missouri State-West Plains and will soon be seeking employment in a hospital setting, as well.

Meanwhile, Ary is using his experience as a student and a minority in a predominantly Caucasian area to help other potential students consider attending Missouri State-West Plains as the college outreach coordinator in the admissions and financial aid offices.

"I grew up here, so I know what to expect, but I wanted to help students of all backgrounds and cultures see how they, too, can be successful here, and this job gives me that opportunity," he explained. "The programs we have here can help students from any background succeed."

Ary said Missouri State-West Plains' environment has made it easy for him to achieve his goals. "The University is accepting of all cultures. They want all students to succeed. I've been accepted here and I've seen people of other cultures accepted here. This is a place where anyone from any cultural background can learn more about himself and develop a better understanding of those around them, no matter what the person's background is," he explained.

He also said he would like to thank his friends and mentors in the Thayer and West Plains communities, including Missouri State-West Plains, for their continued support. "They've helped decide what I want to do with my life and to succeed in that pursuit and I really appreciate their guidance and support."