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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Missouri Academy students

Two Missouri Academy students study for a final exam. This weekend the Missouri Academy will look back on its first 10 years with a celebration that includes a picnic, class reunion gatherings and banquet on Saturday night featuring Northwest President Emeritus Dr. Dean L. Hubbard as the keynote speaker. (Photo by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

Aug. 2, 2010

Missouri Academy celebrates 10 years of preparing brightest high school students

MARYVILLE, Mo. - When the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing opened on the Northwest Missouri State campus in 2000, its planners envisioned a school where motivated high school juniors and seniors could receive advanced preparation for futures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

A decade later, the Missouri Academy has sustained that vision, graduating about 400 students since the first class, known as the Pathfinders, graduated in the spring of 2002. Graduates have gone on to schools including the University of Missouri-Columbia, Duke, Harvard and Stanford.

"It is a testimony to the administration at Northwest which has continued to nurture the Academy," said Dr. Cleo Samudzi, dean of the Missouri Academy. "I'm convinced that the students who have gone through our program have been strengthened by it. We have not yet realized the differences it has made in people's lives."

The Missouri Academy's year-long commemoration of its 10th anniversary will culminate with a celebration event during the weekend of Aug. 6-8 on the Northwest campus. The event will include a picnic, class reunion gatherings and banquet on Saturday night featuring Northwest President Emeritus Dr. Dean L. Hubbard as the keynote speaker.

For a complete schedule of events, click here:

The Missouri Academy is a two-year accelerated, early-entrance-to-college residential program for academically-talented students in science and mathematics. Missouri Academy students come from across Missouri, in addition to states including California and Maryland, and countries including Panama, South Korea and China.

The Missouri Academy was born during the early 1990s out of Hubbard's vision of an academic program designed to challenge and stimulate the best and brightest students of Missouri.

Between 1990 and 1995, Hubbard garnered support for the Missouri Academy from the Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education and members of the Missouri legislature. State funding helped Northwest establish the academy, and it opened its doors in August 2000 to 41 bright high school juniors from Missouri.

The Missouri Academy is one of only eight college programs of its kind in the United States and the only one in Missouri. Students attend classes with traditional University students, and professors hold the same expectations for the academy students. Students who complete the program receive an associate of science degree and a high school diploma, simultaneously.

"The graduates who go through our program at the Academy are extremely well prepared for baccalaureate programs anywhere in the United States," said Diana Schmitz, the Academy's director of Academic Affairs. "Our students do very well, whether they stay at Northwest or whether they transfer to another institution The comments we receive back from them say the faculty that they have had at Northwest are as good or better than their next institution."

The program aims to provide a strong foundational education in science and mathematics to capable students with career aspirations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Data shows about 80 percent of Missouri Academy graduates go into the so-called STEM fields.

However, Missouri Academy officials note the curriculum is geared toward helping students succeed in any discipline. Graduates also have gone on to study medicine, journalism, law, music and theology.

"These students cherish the academic preparation they have here," Samudzi said. "The curriculum has prepared them to do whatever it is they want to do. That preparation has been the hallmark of the Missouri Academy, understanding that all students are going to be doing anything and everything."

Since its inception, the Missouri Academy has been successful because of steady enrollment increases, a diverse mix of students and the extra-curricular opportunities provided to students, Samudzi said. In recent years, Missouri Academy students have been elected to key offices on student organizations such as Student Senate and Residence Hall Association.

"The students will always have the rigorous academic program, but the extra opportunities they have here are what make this program really have value," Samudzi said. "Our students are involved in research programs, mathematics competitions, Model UN, robotics, and many significant extra-curricular activities."

To spur future growth and continue its success, the Missouri Academy will continue seeking funds for quality services and scholarships. Enrollment for 2009-2010 was 162 students; Samudzi envisions an enrollment that is capped at 270.

"We want to make sure students who are capable are not pulled back from coming here because of the costs," Samudzi said. "That's a huge, huge part of the future of the Academy. Our goal here is really to be the exemplary academy around the country - one that folks can point to and say, 'They are doing things the way it should be done.' "

For more information about the Missouri Academy, including history, costs and student life, go to:

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468