This fall, the University of Missouri welcomed nearly 1,000 undergraduate students who got their start at another university or community college. No matter whether they begin as freshmen or start at Mizzou with college credit under their belts, the university community works together to ensure a seamless transition for all students.
“Many MU graduates began their college careers at community colleges, and these schools provide a crucial stepping stone for students and families,” said Pelema Morrice, MU’s vice provost for enrollment management. “This is a pathway we want to help define and simplify for our potential students.”
Over the past few years, MU has introduced new initiatives meant to ease this transition. For example, in May, officials from MU and Moberly Area Community College announced MizzouMACC, an initiative administered through MU’s Community College Pathways Program. As part of the agreement, as many as 30 MACC students will be admitted into MU this year. Student progress will be tracked closely and the program could be expanded based on its success.
Additionally, transfer students now have the opportunity to participate in transfer student interest groups, similar to Freshman Interest Groups, or FIGs.
A few of these students shared their path to Mizzou and why they are proud Tigers.
All about animals
Caitlyn Leeker of Eureka, Missouri, had planned to attend Mizzou since her freshman year in high school. She watched Mizzou athletics, had visited campus on multiple occasions and was confident Mizzou was the place for her. But due to unexpected financial challenges at the last minute, she had to carve out a Plan B.
Leeker instead attended St. Louis Community College and began taking classes toward earning an associate’s degree. A lifelong lover of animals — she had cats, dogs, a guinea pig and chinchilla growing up — Leeker began earning credits toward her eventual major in biology.
“It was disappointing at the time, but I also knew it was the right thing to do for me and my family,” she said.
A year ago, Leeker was able to achieve her dream and attend MU. She is thriving in the College of Arts and Science and plans to go to graduate school for veterinary medicine—at Mizzou, of course.
She said her parents couldn’t be more proud.
“They have supported me throughout this whole experience,” she said. “It was very hard not going to Mizzou my freshman year, but they assured me that ‘You’ll be fine. It will be worth it when you get there.’ ”
Leeker said she was nervous about finding her niche at Mizzou, especially as a transfer student who wouldn’t have friendships and connections built like other students who came as freshmen.
However, Leeker immediately joined a club for pre-vet students. She became a member of Tau Sigma, an honor society for transfer students, and participated in a club for transfer students. Now she is a mentor in that club, helping to improve the experience for new transfer students.
She said she is 100 percent confident she made the right choice by selecting Mizzou.
“It has been an amazing experience,” she said. “I did not expect to feel so welcome as a transfer student. Being here is really a dream come true.”
Getting into shape
Adam Weaver of Jefferson City became interested in nutrition as a teenager when he dropped 50 pounds and became a competitive body builder.
Weaver works at a supplement store in Columbia and counsels others trying to optimize their diets to achieve their fitness goals. However, Weaver knew that advancing his education was key to achieving his goals.
After taking classes at Moberly Area Community College, Weaver transferred to Mizzou. His major is currently undeclared, but he hopes to apply to the dietetics program in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.
“The first time I stepped on campus, I definitely felt at home,” Weaver said. “Coming in as a transfer student is challenging in some ways, but I love challenges, and I love the people I’m surrounded by on campus and in classes.”
Weaver said he found a new community by working out at MizzouRec and getting to know the regulars. He also has connected with several of his professors.
“There are so many ways to get involved here,” he said. “All you have to do is step up, get out of your comfort zone and meet people.”
An opportunity to engage in research
Ashleigh Redman was raised on her family’s farm near Dittmer, Missouri, between St. Louis and Farmington. Growing up surrounded by animals, Redman had a natural interest in veterinary medicine and thought taking care of people’s pets would be in her future.
It wasn’t until Redman transferred to Mizzou from Jefferson College—a two-year college in nearby Hillsboro—that she realized she preferred farm management. Redman got to know one of her professors, who encouraged her burgeoning interest and helped her to find an internship studying a developing sheep variety in Idaho.
During the spring semester, Redman lived in Dubois, Idaho, where she collected DNA that is being used to study a composite breed expected to yield more muscle mass and meat that is more tender.
“Growing up, I gained a passion and interest in animals and a developing sense of responsibility to care for them every day,” she said. “It wasn’t until I came to Mizzou and met some of my amazing professors that I could see a career path tied to that passion.”
Redman said her transition to Mizzou has been extremely smooth, something she attributes to her advisor at Jefferson College who helped her identify classes that would transfer to Mizzou.
Coming from such a small town and college, Redman admits she was concerned about finding her place at Mizzou.
“I was worried that I would feel lost at Mizzou—that it would be too big for me,” she said. “What I found is just the opposite. Because I’m already taking upper-level courses within the college, I see the same professors and students every day. It is very close-knit and very welcoming.”