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June 1, 2011
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Seventy-four students received associate of science degrees along with their high school diplomas Saturday, becoming the 10th class to graduate from the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest Missouri State University.
The Missouri Academy's 2011 class, known as the Pioneers, was the largest in the program's history.
In his commencement address, Dr. David Russell, commissioner of higher education for the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, instructed the graduates to use the critical thinking skills they acquired at the Missouri Academy to their advantage. He used anecdotes about Alfred Nobel, Bill Gates and the world's evolving technology to illustrate his point.
"The message I want you to carry away with you is that the degree bestowed on you comes with the responsibility to think critically about the world around you," he said. "Don't just accept without question what others tell you, but objectively analyze the evidence and look before you leap."
Russell added, "As graduates of the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing, you have achieved a unique place in the history of higher education in Missouri. Your graduation signifies your ability to study and apply yourself in ways you may not have thought possible before. It signifies that the future is unfolding before you like a scroll. Your high school diploma and associate of science degree - and the learning they represent - prepare you to inscribe on that scroll your life's goals."
The class included students from across the state of Missouri as well as South Korea and Panama. Fifty-five percent of the graduates have a cumulative grade-point average greater than 3.5.
All of the graduates plan to attend a four-year college or university to complete their baccalaureate degrees. Some of the schools Missouri Academy graduates plan to attend include Brigham Young University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as well as Northwest.
About 77 percent of the graduates plan to pursue studies in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics - known as STEM fields - such as biochemistry, pre-med, aerospace, nano-scale science and physics. Missouri Academy graduates also are pursuing fields such as international business, Christian ministry studies, psychology, history, political science and journalism.
"Each one of us has been and will continue to be a pioneer in his or her own right," Jennie Ransom, a graduate from Grain Valley, told the commencement audience. "We have opened new doors, experienced new things for ourselves. Because of that fact, those after us will be able to walk through the doors we opened and be able to find new doors of their own."
Missouri Academy staff, students and their families also gathered for a banquet Friday night that recognized the success of various student groups at regional, state and national competitions as well as several individual honors.
The Missouri Academy, established in August 2000, is an early-entrance-to-college, two-year residential program, located on the Northwest campus. Students attend the Missouri Academy for two years, replacing their junior and senior years of traditional high school. Academy students enroll in a rigorous curriculum consisting of college coursework taught by Northwest professors while living, socializing and studying in a learning community of peers on a college campus.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468