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May 30, 2015
The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest Missouri State University on Saturday, May 30, handed diplomas to 49 students who comprised the program’s 14th graduating class.
Upon their graduation, students of the two-year residential, early-entrance-to-college program receive an Associate of Science degree along with their high school diplomas. Each class to enter and graduate from the Missouri Academy is tagged with a name, and this year’s class was known as the Trendsetters.
Of the Missouri Academy’s 49 graduates, 41 will pursue bachelor’s degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) disciplines next fall, and the remaining eight plan to pursue bachelor’s degrees in the areas of early childhood development, political science, interior architecture, business and hospitality management.
The graduates are advancing to colleges and universities throughout the world and that list includes Cornell University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Twenty Missouri Academy graduates will stay in the state to attend universities in Missouri. Eight graduates will attend Missouri S&T, four will attend the University of Missouri-Columbia, and three will attend St. Louis University. Other Missouri schools the graduates will attend include Northwest, Hannibal–LaGrange University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University and Truman State University.
The average grade-point average of the graduating class was 3.47. Twenty students graduated with a cumulative GPA between 3.50 and 3.89 on a 4.00 scale, and six graduated with a GPA greater than 3.90. Two graduates earned a 4.00 GPA.
“It is truly remarkable to have about 57 percent of our graduating students achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.40 or higher in this very rigorous program,” Dr. Cleo Samudzi, dean of the Missouri Academy, said. “This, and other student achievements, demonstrate that this program is accomplishing its intended goal of stretching and challenging these young high performers.”
Dr. Kala Stroup, who was a key figure in the brainstorming and creation of the Missouri Academy 15 years ago, delivered the day’s commencement address. Stroup was commissioner of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education at the time of the Missouri Academy’s 2000 opening and has had a distinguished career as a leader in higher education for more than four decades. Currently, she is a professor in the honors program at the University of Kansas.
Recounting the creation of the Missouri Academy, Stroup expressed gratitude and pride in seeing the vision and dream of the program come true. It was fitting, she said, that the institution’s 2015 class was called Trendsetters, because many of the graduates are likely to be innovators and entrepreneurs.
“You’ve completed an innovative, ground-breaking, entrepreneurial, academic program at Northwest, which has set the standard for other states and for the nation,” Stroup said. “You and your parents were very wise to apply for and then to enroll in this program. It not only accelerates your academic progress but it places you in a challenging and stimulating environment at a very critical point in your intellectual development.”
Selected to offer a reflection for the Trendsetters class, graduate Kaitlin Moore reminisced on how the challenging environment of the Missouri Academy helped shape the graduates and better prepare them for their futures. Moore recalled the advice of one of her instructors, encouraging graduates to embrace challenges and use their clean slate to chase things that make them happy.
“I believe those hardest moments have gone hand-in-hand with the best, and while we may have felt like we were being broken down, they were instead forcing us to grow,” Moore said. “In a perfect world, yes, bad things would never happen and the Academy wouldn’t have been mentally and socially challenging at times. ... But the challenges we faced here made us into the individuals sitting in front of you now, and I don’t know about you, but I see 49 sharp graduates who are all different people than the ones I met two years ago because they have rode the waves of experience here at the Missouri Academy.”
Missouri Academy staff, students and their families also gathered for a banquet Friday night to recognize the success of individual students and student groups at regional, state and national competitions in addition to awarding several individual honors.
Andrew Kaiser and Seung Hyun Lee received the Dean’s Award. It is the highest honor awarded at the Missouri Academy to students who epitomize the values and ideals of the program. Consideration is given to students with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.90, undergraduate research in STEM subjects and aspirations in STEM fields as well as exemplary leadership and character.
Kyungchan Koh, Yixiao Zhang and Heemoon Jeong received the Academic Excellence Award, which is awarded to students who have excelled academically at the Missouri Academy. Consideration is given to students with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.90; high performance on the PSAT, ACT or SAT; the general education proficiency test and other academic successes. Eligible students must also show positive engagement in the Missouri Academy living and learning community.
Kaylyn Bradshaw, Mariah Teague, Daniel Dominguez and Patrick Miles earned the Student Development Award. It is awarded to students who demonstrate the principles of integrity and quality espoused by the Missouri Academy. Consideration also is given to community service and exemplary leadership skills.
Yeonji Kim, Kele Shi and Justin Hofer received the Delta Award. It is awarded to students who demonstrate the greatest degree of development or improvement – academically or socially – from the time they arrive at the Missouri Academy to their graduation.
The Missouri Academy program replaces the junior and senior years of high school for its students. Missouri Academy students enroll in the same classes as Northwest's traditional students and are held to the same academic expectations while living, socializing and studying in a learning community of peers.
The Missouri Academy will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a weekend of activities July 31 through Aug. 2. For more information about the Missouri Academy, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/masmc.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468