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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

May 27, 2017

Missouri Academy awards diplomas, associate degrees to 48

The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest Missouri State University on Saturday awarded diplomas to 48 students who comprised the program’s 16th 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 Challengers.

Of the Missouri Academy’s 48 graduates, 40 will pursue bachelor’s degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) disciplines next fall, and the remaining graduates plan to pursue studies in the areas of accounting, film studies, psychology, graphic design, education and philosophy.

The graduates are attending a list of universities that includes Baylor University, New York University, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Washington-Seattle, University of California-Davis, University of California-Los Angeles, University of California-Berkeley, Purdue University and University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as Missouri institutions such as Missouri University of Science and Technology, Truman State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Northwest.

The average cumulative grade-point average of the class is 3.67. Thirty-three students earned a cumulative GPA between 3.5 and 4.0; 16 of those earned a GPA between 3.9 and 4.0. The class’s average ACT score is 30.67 as 29 students earned scores of 31 or higher, and all earned scores of 24 or higher.

Furthermore, the class includes 24 international students representing the countries of Panama, China and South Korea.

Dr. MyChi Le, a plastic surgeon and 2003 graduate of the Missouri Academy, delivered the day’s commencement. She is a board-certified plastic surgeon at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Missouri.

She was born in Vietnam and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 6 years old, residing in Kansas City, Missouri. She later completed her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in two years and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri–Columbia. At the University of Kansas School of Medicine, she completed her medical education and was among the top 10 percent of medical students in her class. She completed a six-year integrative plastic surgery residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia before accepting her role with Mosaic Life Care.

Le’s journey to fulfill her dream of becoming a plastic surgeon did not come without challenges, she said. Advisors cautioned her that she might not be accepted into medical school because of her age.

“I was determined, and as a result I was only 20 when I started medical school,” Le said. “These words of caution ignited the fire to my success. When people doubted me, I took that as an opportunity to show them my capabilities.” 

She told the graduates they have academic and professional skills to be successful and accomplish their goals.

“I challenge you to believe in yourselves and commit to achieving your goals,” she said. “It’s all right to have a fear of failure and self-doubt, but then take aim and plan for your future. Don't be afraid to stand out and become the best version of you.”

The Missouri Academy was founded at Northwest in 2000 and 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.

Missouri Academy staff, students and their families also gathered for a banquet Friday night to recognize the success of its students and student groups at regional, state and national competitions, in addition to awarding several individual honors.

Elsie Barry and Anzumaan Chakraborty 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.

Rudi “Frank” Cao, Irene Hung, Shuhao “Emily” Xing and Qianchen “Jason” Zhang received the Academic Excellence Award, which is awarded to students who excel 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.

Katherine English and Som Singh 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.

Virginia Dike, Katherine English and Kaleb McMillen 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.

For more information about the Missouri Academy, visit


About Northwest

Founded in 1905, Northwest is a four-year university that offers a broad range of profession-based undergraduate and graduate programs on its Maryville campus as well as locations in Kansas City and St. Joseph.

With an enrollment of 6,600 students, Northwest was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top moderately selective regional university in Missouri for the second consecutive year, and it is one of only four four-year institutions in Missouri to meet all measures of the state’s performance-based funding initiative during its first three years.

Northwest boasts a graduation rate that is in the 85th percentile of the University’s national peer group. In addition, 97 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data.

Textbooks and a laptop are included in tuition, which is among the lowest in the state, saving students an estimated $7,200 over four years.

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