March 25, 2022
Contact: Deidra Ashley, email@example.com
When University of Missouri President Mun Choi walked in on graduate student Claire Shipp’s meeting with her faculty advisor, Shipp grabbed her backpack to leave and give President Choi the room.
“I’m here for you, Claire,” he said with a smile. “You’re our 2022 Mark Twain Fellow!”
Shipp’s eyes widened and several faculty and staff cheered from the hallway.
“I don’t know what to say — I’m shaking!” Shipp said.
Onward to Oxford
Shipp was one of five student finalists for the Mark Twain Fellowship. The highly competitive, MU-sponsored award annually supports one Mizzou senior or recent graduate to pursue graduate study abroad in any discipline. The award comes with a $50,000 scholarship to cover tuition.
“I planned on using my Truman Scholarship to study at The University of Oxford, but it was only going to cover one year,” Shipp said. “Now, I’ll be able to cover the entire two-year program and do a year of research. Oxford’s School of Geography is the number one geography school in the world — I can’t believe I have the opportunity to study there. And it’s only possible because of this fellowship.”
Shipp, a Chillicothe, Missouri, native who was also a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management and Master of Science in Applied Agriculture Economics. At Oxford, she will pursue a Master of Science in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance.
“You’ve made us proud, and I know you’re going to go to Oxford and show what Mizzou students can do,” President Choi said during the surprise announcement. “Thank you for your leadership and commitment to excellence … I can’t wait for you to come back in five years as Dr. Shipp.”
During the award presentation, the relationships Shipp has built with faculty and staff across campus were palpable. “I love these people,” Shipp said. “I’m just a normal person with really cool people around me. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I started here, and these are the people who helped me find my purpose.”
Carrie Nicholson, senior director with the Office of the Provost, said she considers it an amazing opportunity to know Shipp as a colleague, a student — and a person.
“Claire is a very caring person, and she is always looking for ways to improve the life of others and what she can do to make an impact no matter what size,” Nicholson said. “Claire is very humble and is continuously surprised when she receives honors but all of us who have had the great opportunity to know and/or work with her will never be surprised, she has earned each opportunity.”
After a brief award presentation, Shipp called her mom, then returned to her meeting with her faculty advisor to discuss her master’s thesis — she already had plans to have pizza with Nicholson and her family at their house tonight. “I’m just so excited for the future,” Shipp said. “And it wouldn’t be possible without all of these people at Mizzou.”
Her path to success
Shipp was raised in rural Missouri and said that’s what inspires her agricultural studies and passion for using institutional tools to unite the agricultural industry and the environmental movement.
As the executive director of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM), Shipp directs the ASUM legislative internship program and four campus engagement teams across the state to represent the interests of more than 65,000 UM System students. She also serves as the vice-chair of Intercampus Student Council and is a Teaching Assistant in the School of Natural Resources.
The Mark Twain Fellowship is not the first accolade Shipp has earned during her college career. She was a member of the highly selective Litton Scholars Cohort, served as an officer in Mizzou Collegiate Farm Bureau for two years, and earned the Crabtree and John M. Deal Scholarships for her potential to be a changemaker in agriculture. In 2021, Shipp was named a Truman Scholar — an award only given to 62 recipients nationwide.