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Rowe: Work is a Mindset

Mike Rowe visits the College of the Ozarks Dairy Farm during his visit to campus. (Photo courtesy C of O Public Relations)

The host of the long-running television series “Dirty Jobs” talks about the importance of working hard during the Spring Convocation at College of the Ozarks Tuesday. 

Mike Rowe says in front of a capacity ground at the Keeter Athletic Complex that work is as much a mindset as it is a particular skill set. Rowe also cites C of O’s Work Program as an example of one that helps educate the students in the importance of all jobs but then can deliver that message to others as they graduate and enter the workforce. 

Rowe answered questions posed by students and Dr. Nick Sharp, Dean of Work Education at C of O. 

The complete release from College of the Ozarks is below:

College of the Ozarks hosted the Work Ethic Forum with Mike Rowe, executive producer and host, bestselling author, podcaster, and CEO of mikeroweWORKS Foundation, on March 28, 2023. Rowe spent half of the day touring a handful of over 100 campus workstations, including The Fruitcake & Jelly Kitchen, The W. Alton Jones Dairy, and The Print Shop. Later that evening at the Work Ethic Forum, Rowe participated in a student-led question and answer session regarding the importance and relevance of work. 

The Work Ethic Forum began with a welcome from Dr. Brad Johnson, president of College of the Ozarks, and special remarks given by Michael L. Parson, 57th governor of Missouri. Afterwards, School of the Ozarks Lower School Students performed a special song. Dr. Nick Sharp, dean of work education, moderated and led a conversation about work with Rowe, primarily based on questions from students as well as Sharp.

Student participants in the forum included College of the Ozarks students, School of the Ozarks high school seniors, and high school students from Hollister, Branson, and Reeds Spring who are active in the business and entrepreneur strand of the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS) program.

“We don't come into the world fully formed with the kind of work ethic that you all celebrate here at College of the Ozarks,” Rowe said. “That has to be taught, and that's why I wanted to come here because you are teaching it. It’s not just a lecture or a sermon, you're actually doing it.”

Rowe encouraged College of the Ozarks students to change their mindset when looking at what it means to work a job. 

“I think we all have to find our own path,” Rowe said. “If you want to look at it as something more than merely transactional, then you have to love it. You have to be passionate about your job, even if your job isn't your passion.”

One of the ways that the College promotes good work ethic is both by allowing students to work and to learn about the philosophy of work. The Forum consisted of three plenary sessions entitled, “The Design of Work,” “The Dignity of Work,” and “The Direction of Work.” Plenary speakers included executives from the Springfield, Branson, and Northwest Arkansas regions, all experts in their respective fields.

College of the Ozarks has received many acclaimed rankings to attest to the College’s robust work program and its focus on mission and academic excellence.

Students receive a well-rounded education at College of the Ozarks — an experience that involves the head, the heart, and the hands,” Sharp said. “Hard Work U. fosters grit and an understanding of work that creates the space for students to reflect how a focused energy outside the classroom equals high reward.”

More About Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe is an executive producer & host, bestselling author, podcaster, narrator, and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and has used a variety of television shows, specials, and podcasts to inform Americans about the necessity of hard work and creativity. Rowe’s debut to fame began in 2003, with the launch of his most famous series Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Chanel. This show explored some of the messiest, but most necessary jobs to be found in the United States, including mud driller, medical waste processor, and sewer inspector. With over 300 dirty jobs explored over the show’s 179 episodes, 
Rowe earned the title of “the dirtiest man on TV.” After the show concluded in 2012, Rowe continued his TV career with the CNN series, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, which aired in 2014.

In addition to his experience as a TV host, Rowe is the founder of mikeroweWORKS, a campaign dedicated to defending blue-collar, skill-based jobs from stereotypes and to encourage participation in those fields. Out of that campaign has flowed testimonies to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, a TED Talk on the Changing Face of the Modern-Day Proletariat, and his book Profoundly Disconnected®, A True Confession From Mike Rowe. Today, the foundation sponsors the Work Ethic Scholarship, which has given $6.7 million dollars to students pursuing a trade-related program. 

Rowe lives in San Francisco, California, where he continues interacting with the public from his social media platforms, his “The Way I Heard It” podcast, and speaking engagements across the country. His newest show How America Works which aired in 2021, just completed its third season.

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