My Mizzou Story
Every Tiger has their own story, their own challenges and their own successes. Below, read the stories of some of the many students who make up the Mizzou family.
The first thing I said after I graduated high school was, “I’ve peaked.” I loved high school just like the next over-involved high achiever. I was the captain of the swim team, drum major, had a great group of friends, and was even crowned homecoming queen. I couldn’t comprehend how my resume, friends, or life could get any better…
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I came to Mizzou with the idea that the transition into college was going to be a grand, life-changing journey, and suddenly I would have all of these friends I couldn’t live without, I would know what I wanted to do with my life and everything would just make sense.
For my whole life, I had envisioned following my mom’s footsteps and going to Mizzou. I actually never toured any other schools at all, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I expected the college experience I had imagined to simply fall into my lap. I didn’t seek out organizations to join, reach out to new people to befriend, or go after the experience I wanted.
Then my dad said to me, “Maybe you’re doing school wrong.” I realized that it’s my experience to make at Mizzou. This was my Mizzou turning point.
From that point on, I made a promise to myself to seek out every opportunity I could to make my Mizzou experience something I was proud of. I started seeking out clubs, going out of my way to meet new people, and pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone. I decided to rush Greek life and was suddenly attending every basketball and football game with my new sisters.
Before long, I was back in my usual afternoon study spot in Ellis Library, only this time with my new friends from biochemistry club. At the end of my second semester, I was selected as a Top 14 Distinguished Freshman by the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. I felt like I was doing something right.
I became enamored with the opportunities I was finding at Mizzou, the people I was meeting, and the experience I realized I was living. Eager to share my experiences, lessons, and love for Mizzou with others, I applied for Tour Team my sophomore year. This was the first big interview of my college career. After what felt like months of applications, interviews, and simply waiting patiently, I received a call and, to my surprise, heard a voice on the line screaming “Maddie Brownfield, do you want to be a tour guide?” As I sprinted to Jesse Hall to be greeted by all the current tour guides, I remember thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait to share this place I love so much with future Tigers!” I felt like I was home.
My junior year, I decided to study abroad in Thailand for a month in a biodiversity and marine conservation program. Marine biology had always been an interest of mine, but living in the Midwest, one could say I had a rather small pool of opportunities to immerse myself in. But this trip changed my life. I met the most inspiring people, both from Mizzou and Thailand.
While in Thailand, I spent time working on various conservation projects, largely focused around marine life. I helped conduct coral reef health surveys and even worked to create an entire underwater coral nursery. That feeling I was hoping for my freshman year of suddenly knowing what I wanted to do with my life? I felt that for the first time ever, and knew I wanted to pursue a career in marine biology/conservation.
Living in Thailand for a month working on conservation projects is an opportunity I couldn’t have even dreamed of before coming to Mizzou. When I returned to the U.S., I immediately got busy with another Thailand friend to co-found the first university-recognized marine conservation organization, Save Our Seas Mizzou. For the first time, I felt like I had found my purpose and my passion, and it’s all due to an opportunity Mizzou presented to me.
Going into my senior year, I was on Mizzou cloud nine. I was serving on my sorority’s executive board and was also serving as the Omicron Delta Kappa Top 14 Freshmen Coordinator – the very honor I myself was selected for as a freshman! In the fall semester of my senior year, I was nominated by my peers for the honor of applying for Homecoming Royalty top 10. After a paper application and numerous interviews, I received a call early one morning with a voice on the line exclaiming, “Congratulations, Maddie Brownfield! You are a part of the 2020 Homecoming Royalty top 10!” Oh, if only my high school self could see me now. I’d surely believe this was absolutely my peak.
If I hadn’t had the challenging start I did my freshman year, I may never have had the courage and desire to step out of my comfort zone and seek out opportunities to live out the college experience I had designed in my head. Four years ago, Mizzou was simply an idea. I had hoped to live a college experience I would be proud of, but had no idea how to do that at first. I had thought my peak and best days were already behind me. What I have learned from my time at Mizzou is that I have been hitting peaks along the way, but it’s not downhill afterward, the peaks just keep getting bigger.
My Mizzou experience can’t be boiled down to one event or position, but I see it in the way Mizzou’s values have been upheld. It’s been having respect for Mizzou’s long-held traditions like Homecoming. It’s been the pursuit of excellence in everything from a biochemistry major to a start-up marine conservation club of five people. It was the discovery of all of the opportunities Mizzou has presented me that have led me to become the person I am today. And it’s been my responsibility every day for these past four years to do all I can to create a Mizzou experience worth remembering.
Mizzou has become more than a place to me. Now, Memorial Stadium isn’t just our football field, it’s yelling “M-I-Z” no matter the score. Speakers Circle is more than a shortcut to class, but is a place to see student advocacy. The Columns aren’t just a staple of Mizzou, but they’re where I ran toward Jesse Hall as a freshman signifying my entrance into Mizzou, and where I will run through again a completely different person for Senior Sendoff. My time here has been both the greatest four years of my life, and the greatest four years to set me up for the rest of my life. As I graduate in May, this time around, I know I have yet to peak as I had previously believed. I know I am #MizzouMade, therefore the opportunities are endless and the adventure is just starting.