Civil Engineering student Elgin Burton decided to attend Mizzou after meeting with recruiters at his high school in East St. Louis, Illinois, deciding to visit, and “falling in love with the campus.” Once he arrived, Burton got involved in a number of organizations. He is currently the president of the national award-winning Timber Bridge Team. He is also T.O.R.C.H (Technical Outreach Community Help) chair for Mizzou’s chapter the National Society of Black Engineers. Once he graduates in May 2018, Burton plans on a career in transportation engineering.
Burton says, “The Engineering Library is a huge resource to me in more ways than one. The obvious one is that there are books here that I can use for all of my classes. The one I just turned in today, I used for my class all semester.”
Burton also likes that that the Engineering Library is a gathering place for his classmates. “This is a place where I do a lot of my studying, so I meet a lot of people here who are also studying the same things. A lot of collaboration happens here. Whenever I am working on a project, we usually meet in the Engineering Library. If I am struggling with a problem, I can usually find people who can help me solve it here. Or I’ll see somebody in my class, introduce myself, and ask how they are solving the problem. I meet many people in different ways at the Engineering Library. There is not another space in the building like that. ”
One of Burton’s favorite Mizzou memories is getting to know the libraries. “it was almost an oddly intimate relationship I had with Ellis and other libraries like the Math Library and [the Engineering Library], because I was completely new to the experience—I was new to Columbia, Missouri, I was new to college, I was new to a research library of that size—and over the course of my college career, Ellis Library especially became my home away from my apartment, where I feel most comfortable on campus.”
If there was one piece of advice that Burton could give to future students, Burton says, it would be to use your resources. He acknowledges that “it can be difficult to tell new students to take advantage of your resources because they might not know about them, but the best thing to do is just to open up to opportunities and be willing to try new things. Getting involved in organizations relevant to your degree gives you contextual information and it gives you a sense of purpose. ‘I am here doing this. I am here making this change.’”
“You leave a lasting impact on the university. It also leaves a lasting impact on you.”
For senior journalism student Victor Topouria, shying away from opportunities isn’t an option. When he saw the call for the University Libraries Undergraduate Research Contest, he immediately submitted his research for consideration. His instincts were correct because his paper, The fabric road to power: geography of the textiles trade along the new Silk Road and China’s path to geopolitical dominance through the textiles supply chain, won first place and a $500 scholarship.
His paper was originally written for Dr. Hobb’s geopolitics class, but it ended up more interdisciplinary than he anticipated. This interdisciplinary approach required Topouria to investigate multiple resources for his research; resources with which he was not at all familiar. ” The library is one of the most underappreciated places on campus. Sure, everyone loves it as a study space, but I think if all of us took advantage of its resources just once, we would find it difficult to be satisfied with Google.The librarians I met were perhaps the most helpful people I’ve worked with during my time at Mizzou. I could not have completed my research without them.”
Born in Columbia, Missouri, and spending most of his childhood in Tibilsi, Georgia, Topouria says his degree will give him the versatility to pursue different passions. He wants current and future Tigers to be open to different perspectives. “Be willing to have your mind changed. Mizzou is full of interesting humans with totally different perspectives and worldviews. If your ideas, opinions, and goals remain exactly the same as when you arrived, you’re doing college wrong. Everything is a learning opportunity, and Mizzou is a place that grants you the freedom to learn, in and out of the classroom. You just have to want it!”
Michelle Kraft, director of libraries at the Cleveland Clinic Health System Libraries, chose to attend Mizzou for her graduate degree in library science because she wanted the opportunity to work in several different campus libraries and put what she was being taught in the classroom into practice.
During her time at Mizzou, Kraft worked at Ellis Library as an electronic resources assistant, helping students with online resources. She also completed her practicum at the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library. She sums up her experience, “Training I got from staff at both libraries was indispensable. Their mentoring and guidance gave me real world knowledge and skills not only to work in libraries but also to thrive in my career.”
Her passion for providing library resources to medical caregivers and researchers led Kraft to her role as the president of the Medical Library Association in 2015-2016. During that year of service, she advocated for unrestricted, affordable, and quality health information on behalf of the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine to members of Congress.
If there was one piece of advice that she could give to future Tigers, Kraft said, “find your passion and get involved. You grow and learn through your involvement with others at Mizzou and that learning, energy, and knowledge can carry forward to your life after college.”
Meagan Hicks, from St. Charles, MO, was used to her small private school, but that changed when she went to Mizzou. “I was the only person from my class to go to Mizzou, and the only person I knew at Mizzou, was my sister. It was a big adjustment.” A good adjustment it would seem.
“Mizzou really helped shape me into a more well-rounded person. While I was still able to stay in my comfort zone, I was also able to explore different aspects of campus I would not normally go for,” Hicks said.
After graduating in 2014, Hicks enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science program, which led to her working as a graduate assistant at the Health Sciences Library. “Working for an academic library was an amazing experience, especially a specialized one. It was awesome helping students and faculty with their research, and their dedication is something I will always remember.” Hicks currently uses the skills she learned on the job to offer a rich variety of services to the Moberly, Missouri community. “As a public librarian now, I want to offer programs that inspire the next generation of Mizzou students to work hard in anything they want to do.”
Hicks says she made the right decision coming to Mizzou, and wants those considering Mizzou to know that they should “try out new things, things you may not have known you would like may become your new passion. Explore and have fun!”