Richard Gunter (2nd Quarter, 2008)

by Josh Barsch on August 20, 2010

2nd Quarter, 2008
Vo-tech Scholarship Winner
Richard Gunter

Richard is currently attending Arkansas State University and studying to receive his funeral services degree.

A Portion of Richard’s Winning Essay:

A vocational/technical education can contribute to the improvement of myself and my community in several ways. It seems we prospective funeral director and embalmers often feel a sense of isolation from the global field of everything else. I have often learned several different things during my educational process. This leaves very little, if any, time for collaboration on a family issues and views where time is a factor. Locally, there is one funeral home in my community and even though it’s a family firm they are in the need of alot of help and new ideas. By me obtaining my degree in Funeral Service Education. I will be able to give myself and my community something be proud of.

In my community and even in school we tend to conversate among ourselves and often realize that we need to go back to our community to impact greatly upon it. And this may even extend to neighboring campuses and local universities. However, I am the only African-American student to ever study mortuary science at this university. And I am the only one in my family and community as well.

But mortuary science education reaches far beyond my local community, and connecting with the broader community has its own rewards. I have always been invoved in my community all of my life. It was in my community where I got my first chance to ever work in the funeral service industry. I have found myself fairly immersed in my community, and ultimately challenged me to find large-scale involvement with funeral service education. It was not until I began attending Arkansas State University-Mountain Home that I was able to learn proper implementations of learner-centered funeral service techniques, how to overcome challenges with my implementation, and how important it was for me to continue the dialogue about improvements in funeral service education with my other peers and fellow classmates across the country.


While attending Arkansas State Univeristy-Muntain Home (as well as the Funeral Service Conventions, workshops and conferences) it became increasingly clear to me that involvement in funeral service education should not be limited to attending conferences and participating in workshops. We as prospective students challenge our collegues everyday, why should we hold our selves to a lower standard? We need to challenge our philosophies and seek out new ways to improve our techniques and share our ideas, all the while remembering we are Mortiacins, and that is important.

For me, it began with perhaps an “no-involvement” with the funeral service industry at all. After talking with some of the members of my ccmmunity I became a part of the funeral service industry. Isolated students, just like me, were asking each other for ideas on how to be a better impact on our communities and how we could learn the different aspects of our trade. I had been experiencing problems in the classroom, and on, and on. And other students and community advocates gladly offered up their expertise and ideas. We even asked each other for help on funeral service education research projects.

I was not alone! My recent involvement as a member of the funeral service community has presented many more opportunities for involvement and advancement in the funeral service education community. I have opened up my mind and heart for families that are experiencing a lost of a loved one or a friend. Being part of this community presented the opportunity for me to be in a program the will help organize a committee for the Funeral Service Industry and the organizing committee for the bereaved families to make them aware of the options and give them the knowledge of the funeral service profession. During the development of the community program, I will the facilitator for one of the meeting’s special interest group discussion on the challenges funeral service profession face.

Arkansas State University_mountain Home offered me the opportunity to be the first African-American student to ever graduate from there program. I think that is something that will impact the community and it will make a spot in history.

Being an active participant in my community–continuing the dialogue to improve and develop funeral servicee education in our community–has been rewarding on a personal, and professional, level. I am happier in the classroom, my evaluations reveal an enthusiasm for the class, and I feel I am learning them at a deeper level of understanding.

Professionally, I am extremely excited to help bring a funeral service degree to my community. Reinventing our lives , and changing how we learn and think, can be overwhelming if someone does not know what to do. But, becoming more involved with our community can make these challenges just a bit easier. The wonderful field of funeral service , more importantly funeral service education, will only thrive and improve as long as we “put into it.” We need to continue to meet with each other and support each other, we need to become involved in research, to offer our thoughts on why a technique works or fails, and to begin conducting studies ourselves and presenting our results to the community. We all need to be part of Our Community!

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