MSU’s Level UP Program Offers Valuable Service-Learning Opportunities


Morehead State University’s Level UP program offers valuable and unique hands-on learning experiences. It also provides service-learning opportunities for students from a variety of disciplines.

In Assistant Music Professor Ryan McGillicuddy’s Music and Microcomputers course, students work in teams and learn to listen to musical recordings with missing instrumental parts and use software to transcribe the missing parts. The course is a way to solve the problem that MSU jazz music ensembles have encountered when many pieces of music they would like to perform live are missing one or more parts. The Level UP class improved students’ transcription skills and provided them with valuable skills for their future careers.

“Through teamwork, Ryan McGillicuddy and his students are involved in a project that will increase the jazz music repertoire of MSU students. In this situation, everyone wins,” said Sandra Mason, coordinator of the service learning. “Students get a good experience, MSU’s Department of Music, Drama and Dance gets fuller sets of scores, and the community gets to hear music that hasn’t been played here in a while.”

Students in the family law course taught by Laken Albrink, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, work at Bluegrass Legal Aid’s (LAB) Pro Se Divorce Clinic. Clients go through LAB’s admissions process and if they meet specific criteria, students help them complete the paperwork to complete their divorce at no cost.

“The Pro Se Divorce Clinic provides legal studies students with the opportunity to engage with clients, develop and practice professionalism and oral communication skills, and give students the opportunity to reflect critically to the relationship between poverty and access to essential legal services,” says Albrink.

As a form of outreach to MSU’s 22-county service region, Dr. Janet Ratliff, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, speaks to teachers at the college. She trains them to teach their students how to draw up a business plan. MSU students participate in its Business Plan Development Course when they serve as judges when service area college students compete in a “Shark Tank”-style business pitch contest.

“MSU’s service region has long suffered from ‘brain drain,’ with students leaving the area to earn a living,” Mason said. “Dr. Ratliff and his students are making a difference by promoting skills that students in Eastern Kentucky can use to start their own businesses, thereby staying in and enriching our state.”

An Associate Professor of Mathematics, Dr. Mike Dobranski’s Level UP Math in Business, Industry and Government (aka BIG Math) course is a service-learning class that enables students to work with customers and organizations to solve problems in Kentucky.

This semester, her students are working with Dr. Laurie Couch, vice provost for undergraduate education and student success, and Courtney Andrews, director of institutional research and analysis. The goal is to understand the relationship between grade point average (GPA), college admissions test scores, and other demographic and socioeconomic data and their correlation with student retention and graduation rates. MSU students. Math students work in teams of nine and analyze data to better understand what factors correlate with success.

“Working with clients has helped my students connect the academic concepts we study in the classroom with real-world applications,” Dobranski said.

Level UP is an initiative to ensure students can engage in experiences to prepare them for success, including undergraduate research, study abroad, service learning and internships . It includes courses that build students’ skills in communication, professionalism, critical thinking, and teamwork. Level UP further focuses on training students to pass on proof of those professional skills that are highly desirable to employers in all disciplines.

To learn more about the Level UP program at MSU, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Success at [email protected] or visit

Photo: Courses in the Level UP program allow students in the family law course taught by Laken Albrink, assistant professor of legal studies, to work at Bluegrass Legal Aid’s (LAB) Pro Se Divorce Clinic.


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