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Campus Highlights - May 2018

Dear colleagues,

May marks the end of an academic year and new beginnings for our graduating students. I celebrate the hard work of our graduates as well as the dedication of our four campuses, which together conferred nearly 11,000 degrees including approximately 7,560 undergraduate, 2,140 graduate, 426 doctorate and 832 professional degrees. During the commencement ceremonies I was able to attend, I was humbled and inspired by the remarks I heard from University leaders and proud alumni from all four campuses. I’d like to share with you a small sampling of the sage advice they offered to our graduates.

At UMKC, School of Pharmacy Dean Russ Melchert encouraged graduates to share their important work with the world by connecting people with information they need to know in a meaningful way. While Dr. Melchert’s words were specifically directed toward our future pharmacists, such advice is applicable to all graduates. Each of us must constantly share the value of our education for the betterment of those around us. You can watch UMKC’s commencement ceremony, including Dr. Melchert’s remarks, on the UMKC website.

During UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences ceremony, author and educator Robert Norfolk proudly received an honorary degree of humane letters and shared the story of his personal journey through higher education. Dr. Norfolk left the audience with a purposeful roadmap and encouragement to use the power of vision and expectation as a constant field of thought. You can watch UMSL’s commencement ceremony, including Dr. Norfolk’s remarks, on the UMSL website.

In his remarks, Missouri S&T alum and geologist Farouk El-Baz illustrated how every course he took in Rolla contributed to his career, including the selection of landing sites for the Apollo mission in the 1960s. Dr. El-Baz concluded with a valuable reminder to the graduates as he noted, “until today, you required someone to take you by the hand and teach you. But, from this day forward, you can begin to teach yourself.”

Finally, during MU’s School of Health Professions ceremony, alumnus and business owner Mike Carr called on graduates to give back as much and as often as they can. He reminded the graduates that as they get older, they'll notice that the "road ahead is slightly shorter than the road behind," and that one begins to wonder how one "will be remembered and what [the] legacy will be." It was a powerful message to build a legacy of good works throughout one's life.

While made for the benefit of our graduates, these remarks also serve as a reminder of our own responsibilities to our University and to the people that we serve in the state of Missouri. One of those responsibilities is keeping higher education affordable. Despite a variety of budget pressures, our elected officials restored the cuts to our funding, which stands at $417 million. This restoration includes $8.4 million in funding for our collaborative programs to increase the workforce in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and engineering. I am grateful for the strong support of our elected officials in the Missouri House and Senate.

I am so proud of our students, especially those who worked hard to earn their degrees and celebrate their accomplishments this month. Below, you will find profiles on a handful of recent graduates and current students. Their experiences on our campuses will, no doubt, shape the rest of their lives for the better. I encourage you to read them and share your story about how higher education has made a lasting impression on your life by sending it to


Mun Y. Choi, president
UM System


Innovators. Entrepreneurs. #MizzouMade.
With the help of the Trulaske College of Business and the MU Life Sciences Business Incubator, three former Mizzou student athletes are solving an age-old problem. At a time when customers are more likely to log onto than when heading out of town on vacation, these young entrepreneurs are leveraging that cultural shift by taking a similar approach with the storage industry.

Going International
As Savannah Modesitt and Lydia Wilson’s undergraduate careers conclude, new experiences await them halfway around the world. Next fall, Modesitt and Wilson will immerse themselves in new cultures after earning the David L. Boren Scholarship.


Hometown Pride
The 2018 commencement was an exciting one for this self-described full-of-grit mom of three young sons, Kendra White. It means she will get to be a pharmacist, an opportunity that wouldn’t be available to her and her 30 classmates if UMKC hadn’t struck an unusual partnership with Missouri State University to fill critical healthcare needs in rural areas of the state.

Biology student’s project is launched into space
Although five miles away from the launch pad, Luan “Kevin” Ngo’s chest rumbled from the thrust power of the rocket, burning 69 gallons of fuel per second as it blasted into space carrying his research. Yes, April 2, 2018, was one of the best days of the UMKC biology student’s life. He was on hand to witness the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket — carrying his project — from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Before enrolling at UMKC, Ngo served in the Marine Corps for six years, including two deployments to Afghanistan.


Missouri S&T grads are going places
Miners are resourceful and inventive, and they leave Missouri S&T armed with an education that will prepare them for whatever lies ahead. Meet 10 members of the Missouri S&T Class of 2018 and see where their degrees are taking them.

Gaming research at S&T may unlock secrets of “flow”
As an undergraduate, Tejaswini Yelamanchili would spend hours a day playing video games like Counter-Strike and Age of Empires. Time would speed by – hours seemed like minutes – as she focused on the process of gaming. Now a graduate student at Missouri S&T, she’s spending much of her time getting others into gaming as part of her research to better understand how the brain works during flow – when players are in the zone.


Marco Pipoly, UMSL’s 100,000th graduate, on path to career in neuroscience
Pipoly was celebrated as the university’s 100,000th graduate during commencement ceremonies Saturday afternoon and has received an NSF research fellowship for graduate school.

Political science major chosen as Newman Civic Fellow
Jennifer Mossgraber was one of the 268 college students nationwide chosen to take part in the Newman Civic Fellowship program organized by Campus Compact.

Reviewed 2019-04-18