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LaVell Monger (BA 2016)

LaVell Monger is a business and community transformer. LaVell, who grew up in various neighborhoods of St. Louis, says he had numerous interests growing up, from the arts and sciences to sports and entrepreneurship and that the time he spent in the Jeff Vander Lou community first opened his heart to the world of possibilities.

"Of all the places I lived, this area stood out the most for its unique culture and vibrant atmosphere," he said. "It was here that I had the chance to immerse myself in the local traditions and truly appreciate everything this great city offers."

LaVell always had a passion for helping others, which would ultimately influence his professional life in community advocacy and photography. After his graduation from Vashon High School, LaVell decided the University of Missouri–St. Louis was the best place for him to achieve his professional goals.

LaVell Monger

"UMSL’s location was attractive to me for several reasons – whether it was the vibrant city life, the diverse community or the career opportunities available in the area – it was a place where I could develop personally and academically," LaVell said. "It was also important knowing that I would learn from experienced faculty and engage with a diverse student body."

While at UMSL, LaVell held various student leadership positions, serving as a member of the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council and a student representative to the African American Chapter of the Alumni Association.

"As a member of the UMSL community, I actively contributed to the spirit of transformation by participating in initiatives focusing on positive change," he said. "Whether advocating for diversity and inclusion on campus, volunteering for community service projects or leading student organizations, I always tried to make a meaningful impact and leave a lasting legacy."

After graduating in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, LaVell earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Florida Atlantic University.

Today, LaVell is co-owner of RTW Photography, one of the fastest growing photography and videography companies in central Florida. He is also fully immersed in various community roles, serving as board chair of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce and an executive board member of the Education Foundation of Osceola County. He is also a certified coach with PeerForward, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that transforms the lives of students in low-income communities by connecting them to higher education careers.

"Throughout my journey, I have always embraced opportunities for growth and transformation, and UMSL was critical in refining that commitment," LaVell said. "Whether overcoming academic obstacles, stepping outside my comfort zone to pursue new experiences or engaging in community service, I continuously pushed myself to evolve and develop into the best version of myself."