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Bear POWER, Trailblazing Program at MSU, Celebrates Its First Graduates

Missouri State University

In this month's episode of Engaging the Community, we speak with Missouri State University President Clif Smart on the trailblazing Bear POWER Program.  It provides a full college experience to students with developmental or intellectual disabilities, preparing them for the workforce and a life of independence.   

Bear POWER also relies on partnerships in the community. If you would like to learn more about partnering or providing an internship, contact Bear POWER Director Rachel Heinz at  Or you can visit the program's website by clicking here.

You can hear the interview below.

Smart said six students who completed the Bear POWER graduated from the program in May, the first to do so at the university.  

"You don't graduate with a college degree. But you graduate with a certificate in a particular field or area. And the goal is to help a person be ready to live independnly and to be competitively employed," Smart said. 

Internships are an important piece of that goal, Smart said. 

The program started within MSU's College of Education. Traditional MSU students have the opportunity to volunteer with the program as Bear POWER Ambassadors. You can learn more about becoming a Bear POWER Ambassador by clicking here.