Graduate Scholars of Excellence: Where Undergrads Look Toward the Future

Students Alex Becks and Damon Tatum II present with the GSE mentors during an activity

As an undergraduate student, learning how to navigate college can be daunting, especially if you may be a first-generation student. Having guidance from those who have previous experience can be very helpful. The Graduate Scholars of Excellence (GSE) Mentor/Mentee Mixer is an event designed to do just that. At this event, undergraduates got the chance to meet, learn, and engage in their potential future mentors. These mentors are part of the Graduate Scholars of Excellence team who are looking to serve students in the Center for Academic Success and Excellence (CASE), Discover, McNair, and TRiO programs. According to Morgan McAboy-Young, Associate Director of the Division for Inclusion, Diversity & Equity (IDE), the purpose of this event is to “challenge undergraduate students to think beyond the here and now as it relates to their academic studies.” McAboy-Young went on to say, “In an effort to help undergraduate students stretch and grow, we wanted to plant seeds that would help them better align their career goals.”

Morgan McAboy-Young, Associate Director of the Division for Inclusion, Diversity & Equity addressing the GSE attendees

Having the opportunity to attend and observe this event was truly an honorable one. I got the chance to witness firsthand how students can go from timid to completely confident within only two hours. At the start of the event, smiling yet timid faces filled the room. Students sat and talked with only familiar faces, showing signs of nervousness as they anticipated how they were going to get of their comfort zones that night. However, once the mixer began, students gradually got out of their comfort zones and that’s exactly what the event was intended to do. I saw students become more and more eager for their future mentorship as they got to know some of the GSE’s.

As CASE Scholar Sydni Pearson, a freshmen studying Sociology, said, “The event was a good way to meet other faces around Mizzou.” Along with meeting other students, Pearson also benefitted from the event by gaining a mentor, Jennifer Casper, a graduate student who is working on getting her PhD in Sociology. “It was a good connection. I already met her once and I can see that we already have similarities outside of our major. So, it was really cool getting the mentor that best fit me.”

Left to Right: Brooks Scholars Nia Martin, Sydni Pearson, Lauren Purdy and Diamond Smith

Not only is Pearson looking forward to this mentorship, she’s looking forward to a friendship as well. “We talked about sisterhood and creating a bond that goes beyond school. You know, we respect each other. I support her, she

supports me and that’s something I really look forward to. The genuine connection with others and the networking you get from that.”

Although Pearson is only a freshman, she is also looking forward to following in her mentor’s steps becoming a GSE herself. “In high school I did an ambassador program. It was cool interacting with different students and younger students. I feel like you never really know how much you have to give people and what you have within you to help inspire somebody,” said Pearson. “I’m really into positive change and finding ways to get involved more on campus. So, hopefully [becoming a mentor] will be an opportunity that I will take.”