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Chocolatier Shawn Askinosie, founder of Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, will be awarded the 14thhonorary doctorate from Missouri State University. The nomination was approved this week by the MSU Board of Governors, after receiving recommendations from the Faculty Senate and Interim President Clif Smart. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark spoke with Askinosie and has more.
A graduate of Glendale High School and the University of Missouri, Askinosie founded Askinosie Chocolate following a career as a criminal defense lawyer. The business is a bean-to-bar manufacturer, which means it gets 100 percent of the chocolate beans it uses directly from farmers around the world. Askinosie uses his quote—“bean to bar” philosophy—to gain exposure to different cultures and global business experiences.
“We do everything we can to try to impact the lives of the people we come in contact with. It’s about serving other people; it’s about working with farmers in various countries where we source cocoa beans in a fair way and a way that treats them in a way they would want to be treated. We share profits with them.”
He also says his business tries to involve children and young people in the neighborhood of the factory, which is on Commercial Street, by setting up programs called Chocolate University and Cocoa Honors. Askinosie says this program connects students from local schools to kids in the developing countries he visits.
In May, Askinosie will receive the Doctor of Public Affairs during the MSU spring commencement ceremonies. The university says the purpose of the award is to recognize extraordinary achievements by local citizens in hope of encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. Askinosie said he was shocked by the news.
“I’m not saying that just to be humble because I had no idea. I was totally surprised by this. I mean, not in a billion years would I have ever thought that this would happen. I don’t even know if I’ve completely soaked it in yet, I mean it’s quite an honor.”
He says his hope and message to people is that they don’t have to wait to get involved in serving someone. He says even something as simple as a prayer, a phone call, or a simple donation can make a difference to someone.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
Click here for a link to Askinosie Chocolate.