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A long-time East Central College employee was recently honored by the Missouri Community College Association for her service to ECC and to the mission of community colleges throughout the state. 


Ina “Cookie” Hays received the 2012 Senior Service award at the MCCA fall convention in Kansas City October 31.  Hays has been a part of East Central College, as a student or employee, for more than four decades.  She enrolled at what was then East Central Junior College in the fall of 1971 when classes were held in temporary facilities throughout Union. 


Hays completed her Associate of Applied Science degree the summer of 1973, about the same time she was hired as secretary in the Media Services department.  After just one year on the job she was promoted to administrative secretary to the instructional dean, and served as assistant to ECC’s chief academic officer until 1988.  She then moved to Student Services, serving as an academic advisor for 10 years.  She became interim director of counseling in 1998 and in 2000 became ECC’s director of counseling and career services.  For the past 11 years she has been ECC’s chief student affairs officer.


In 1994 she earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Maryville University and went on to complete her M.Ed. in counseling at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2000.


“Working in so many roles over the years has given Cookie the experience to handle, with compassion, any situation that might arise at any level, from student to employee,” said Karen Wieda, registrar at ECC.  “She listens, makes suggestions, is fair in her decisions, and supports her staff as well as the students.   She is a servant leader with a kind, caring heart.”  Wieda noted that Hays always acknowledges that there are multiple sides to any issue and has an incredible sense of empathy.  She also brings an element of calmness to any situation.  She treats everyone the way she would like to be treated.


A member of MCCA for many years, Cookie has also been involved with the Missouri School Counselor Association.


Colleagues note that Hays has played a huge part in the success of ECC.  “She truly embodies ECC’s mission through serving others and supporting a sense of community on campus,” noted Tammy Weinhold, ECC’s director of advising and counseling.  “Through numerous bond issue and tax levy elections at East Central, Cookie has always been involved.  When people talk about the special people in the ECC family, she is one of them.”  


ECC has played a major role in the life of the Hays family.  Her husband Don worked at East Central for 26 years before retiring in 2001 and both of their children graduated from ECC.   


Hays is a long-time member of P.E.O., an organization committed to promoting educational opportunities for women.  Her family has supported the Franklin County Area United Way for decades, an organization that her father, Henry Hartbauer, helped to establish as the United Fund in 1953.  Spare time often centers around spending time with their three granddaughters.


Riegel Receives Student Leadership Award

Laura Riegel of Washington, a sophomore at East Central College, was also y honored by the Missouri Community College Association with the 2012 Student Leadership Award.


Riegel is majoring in pre-engineering.  She currently serves as president of ECC’s Student Government Association.  Ryan McDonnell, director of student activities at ECC, noted that the 2011 Washington High School graduate  is heavily involved in making the ECC campus a place full of positive experiences for all students.  “This year, she is taking steps to make the programming that SGA puts on fun and developmental,” McDonnell said.  “She wants to see students become more involved and get the most out of their experience on campus. As a new student leader, Laura has shown exemplary abilities at working with difficult situations and keeping the desires of the student body at the forefront of her goals as president.”  


In addition to her academic and extracurricular activities at ECC, Riegel is a coach for Youth Hunter Education Challenge Team and volunteers with the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

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