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Mizzou grads-to-be find creative ways to celebrate

On May 15 and 16, the University of Missouri community is coming together (virtually) for 24 hours to honor the excellence of our spring graduates. Hear from soon-to-be grads about their time at MU and how they’re planning to commemorate the big day.

May 12, 2020
Contact: Kenny Gerling, gerlingk@missouri.edu

Mark your calendar and get your Mizzou Made Zoom background ready. On May 15 and 16, the University of Missouri community is coming together (virtually) for 24 hours to honor the excellence of our more than 6,000 graduates.

For two days, celebrations will be held on university social media channels and in Tiger living rooms around the world. The celebration will kick off at 2 p.m. on May 15 with a video of remarks from UM System President and MU Interim Chancellor Mun Choi, MU Provost Latha Ramchand, UM Board of Curators chair Julia Brncic, student leaders and a special guest speaker.

From festive recipe cards and yard signs, to digital regalia stickers and ready-to-post images for social media, there are many creative ways for graduates to share their accomplishments online and for supporters to cheer them on.

To join in the fun, we talked with some soon-to-be grads about their time at MU and how they’re planning to commemorate the big day. For more information about Mizzou’s virtual celebration, visit the Graduation & Commencement resource page.


headshot of student wearing black jacket and pearl necklaceLauren Smith
School of Law
Hometown: Chicago

Why did you choose to attend Mizzou?

I did a tour and was like, “Let’s see what it’s like.” I had my own personal tour guide because it was a slow tour day. I just looked at the Columns and was like, “All right, Mom. I’ve seen enough.” It was a gut feeling.

Why are you glad you chose Mizzou?

I went to other schools and it was just not the same. It’s the character of the school itself, and the fact that I had a home, a real true community.

What does the phrase Mizzou Made mean to you?

It means having a family. That I’m connected somewhere. I had to be in Kansas City for an interview, and I walked in with a little Mizzou padfolio. Someone stopped me and was like, “MIZ!”

I’m Mizzou Made all the way through. I’m getting a law degree from Mizzou. My master’s is going to be from the medical school, and I have two bachelor’s — psychology and sociology — from Mizzou.

How are you celebrating graduation?

Because of social distancing, I’m going to travel back home to Chicago under high safety precautions. I’m bringing all my regalia to wear on actual graduation day. We’re going to have a mini grad brunch, but the true party happens after I pass the bar. So, we were already going to wait to celebrate until August or September when I’m finished.


black and white photo of student smilingCrystal Wiggins
Business management major with a minor in entrepreneurship in the Trulaske College of Business
Hometown: Angleton, Texas

Why did you choose Mizzou?

I had a lieutenant in the Air Force who had come here, and I told him I was interested in going to school for business. He recommended Mizzou and Columbia.

Why are you glad you chose Mizzou?

Mizzou has been wonderful to me. I’ve met some really good mentors, specifically Keith Herdzina in the MU Veterans Center and Gay Albright in the Trulaske International Relations Office. They have been really great mentors and bosses. I worked for both of them for almost all four years of undergrad and was able to create the Mizzou Woman Veterans Group and lead three study abroad programs to Prague, Santiago and Buenos Aires.

How are you celebrating graduation?

I plan to have the virtual celebration going in my apartment while I Zoom with my family. Then, I’ll drive by campus to make a run through the Columns, and finish the day by popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate the accomplishment and the end of an era!

How has Mizzou prepared you for the future?

It’s really helped me transition from military to civilian life and learn how to represent and market myself. It’s also helped me learn how to take advantage of opportunities that arise. … I ended up going to more than 10 countries while in college. I got more leadership experience and built friendships that will last forever. Mizzou will give you what you ask of it.


photo of student smiling and holding a sign that says #P.H. DoneKatherine Becerra Valdivia
Doctoral student in political science in the College of Arts and Science
Hometown: Coquimbo, Chile 

Why did you choose Mizzou?

My first approach with Missouri was talking with one professor, Professor Moises Arce. When I was applying to different universities, I sent an email to him. He was super nice and was the only professor — from I don’t know how many emails — who offered me a Skype meeting. That was important for me.

Why are you glad you chose Mizzou?

It’s been quite a journey to be here. I think it was a good choice because I had the opportunity to work on the topic that I wanted, and the professors in all my classes were supportive of what I wanted to do.

How are you celebrating graduation?

I want to be part of the virtual events. That day is going to be a symbolic day either way. I plan on posting a couple pictures online to show everyone that I did it. I’m not in my country, so some people who I would like to celebrate with are not here. All the materials made available to people who are graduating are going to be important to maintaining those connections.

How has Mizzou prepared you for the future?

My area is academia, and I’m going back to academia in Chile. I learned a lot about being an academic, not only in the U.S., but all over the world. It’s small things, like how to talk with a student and to how to send publications. … All those things you’re supposed to do as a professor.


headshot of student with a beard and glassesChristian Cmehil-Warn
Majoring in economics and statistics in the College of Arts and Science
Hometown: Poplar Bluff, Mo. 

Why did you choose Mizzou?

The big draw for me was the Honors College. They had a lot of really interesting stuff that they showed me, and I was able to get the financial support I needed to come here. It ended up being a really great fit.

Why are you glad you chose Mizzou?

I’ve learned to appreciate big, hearty public institutions that really try to work for the community and the state of Missouri as a whole and for the people in it. Also, the friends and people who I’ve met have just been amazing. And the opportunities that I’ve gotten here have been absolutely wild. I truly don’t think I’d have ended up as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship if I had gone anywhere else. That was the pinnacle of my college career, and I needed seven letters of recommendation. It shows just how much other people have had an impact on me.

How are you celebrating graduation?

I’ll see my parents but not really my extended family. It’s a postponing-it thing. … Mizzou hasn’t yet made a decision about the in-person celebration or how that is going to work, but I’ll certainly be doing it. My friends and I will use that as a time to meet up. I’m definitely planning on watching the virtual celebration — maybe at the same time as some friends.

How has Mizzou prepared you for the future?

Mizzou has given me the flexibility to work between fields and disciplines and to really understand that value of interdisciplinarity. For the type of stuff I’m going into, it’s incredibly important to not just understand the numbers, but what they mean and how they’re different in different fields and contexts.


headshot of blonde student in blue dressLucille Doll
Majoring in environmental sciences, specializing in atmospheric science, in the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, with a Spanish minor
Hometown: Kansas City 

Can you remember your first experiences at Mizzou?

I had a great Summer Welcome experience because that’s when I met my roommate for the first time. We were selected completely at random, but she’s still to this day one of my best friends.

Why did you choose Mizzou?

Originally, I thought I wanted to be an environmental science major, and Mizzou has one of the best journalism schools in country, so that’s why I was originally looking at Mizzou. But then by the time I graduated from high school I realized I wanted to do meteorology because it was a marriage of all the science I really like and the math I like, plus the communication side of things. That’s why I specifically went into broadcast. Mizzou has KOMU, which is an opportunity for students to be on-air as undergraduates.

What does the phrase Mizzou Made mean to you?

Being Mizzou Made means that I have an amazing support system through my professors and through my friends and colleagues and classmates here at Mizzou that will help me wherever I go. I have professors sending me job opportunities right now because they want the very best for us no matter what. They want to see us succeed.

What about your time at Mizzou do you think you’ll take with you going forward?

Besides education and all the skills I’ve gained, probably just a better sense of who I am. It’s probably a cliché college thing to say, but I really found who I am as a person these last four years. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without all the leadership opportunities I’ve been given. It’s helped me grow into the person that I’m supposed to be and will continue to help me grow throughout the rest of my life.

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