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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

May 24, 2011

Missouri Academy to celebrate largest graduating class in its history

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MARYVILLE, Mo. - Seventy-four students will receive associate of science degrees as well as their high school diplomas as the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest Missouri State University celebrates its 10th graduating class this weekend.

The Class of 2011, which is the largest in the Missouri Academy's history, will receive its diplomas during a commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 28, in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr. David Russell, commissioner of higher education for the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, will deliver the commencement address. Russell was appointed commissioner in January 2011 after a six-month term as interim commissioner. Prior to becoming commissioner, Russell held a variety of positions with the University of Missouri System, beginning in 1991. Russell also served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer, retiring in 1991 as a lieutenant colonel after a 22-year career.

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.

The Missouri Academy's 2011 class, known as the Pioneers, includes 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.

According to the Missouri Academy, 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.

The Missouri Academy was created through an agreement between Northwest, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Both the administrative offices and student residences are housed in North Complex, which is centrally located on the Northwest campus. Dr. Cleo Samudzi, dean of the Missouri Academy, is the program's principal administrator.

For more information about the Missouri Academy's graduation activities 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