Ironton is a town tucked away in a valley in the Ozarks. Like so many other rural mining towns across the nation, Ironton is impoverished and is becoming more of a relic of a bygone era rather than a sustainable birthing place for future inhabitants. As the ore in the nearby mine nears depletion, the townspeople have less of a reason to stay. Perhaps this is why Edwin Blanton chose to leave after high school to come to Southeast Missouri State University. For him it was easy. It was a choice between progression or stagnation. With Southeast he chose the former, and his choice paid off greatly.
Edwin has realized the dream for which so many small-town boys long, to get out. And he has, earning three degrees from Southeast: a bachelor of science in foodservice and hospitality management, a bachelor of science in business administration in marketing, and a master of science in administration with a focus in public administration. He has also traveled widely, working in the United Kingdom for six months, volunteering in a conservation field in Australia, working for the Peace Corps in the Commonwealth of Dominica and visiting 19 other countries including France, Italy, Sweden, Malaysia and Mexico.
He is now living in San Antonio, Texas overseeing Ready, Willing…Enable! a nonprofit organization he co-founded with fellow former Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer Catron. Their goal is to place individuals interested in short-term volunteer assignments overseas in a nine-day program focused on assisting persons with disabilities in the developing world. The volunteers work on a sustainable project in conjunction with local Dominican organizations and have time to explore natural wonders.
Edwin says of Ready, Willing…Enable! “There is not a normal day. Everything in the organization I have a hand in, from marketing to bookkeeping, to writing policy. Above all, I like talking with potential volunteers about the work that we do. I also love that we are doing a lot of good work.”
He credits Southeast as a major factor in his success.
“Southeast helped me greatly in building confidence as well as vastly helping to improve my communications skills- skills that I use every day,” he says.
Edwin is proof again that the small boy from the small town can go on to do great things. “No matter what your background is, you can attend Southeast, get a good education, and then your only limit is yourself,” he said.