Meet the A&S Commencement Student Marshals

M-I-Z-Z-O-U mortarboard with gold glitter and flowers
Melody Galen

These three phenomenal students were chosen to represent the College of Arts and Science during the December 2019 commencement ceremony. They were chosen because of their academic achievements and engagement in valuable A&S experiences such as research, study abroad, internships, and service learning. They will lead the processionals and assist in the ceremony itself.

Maria BricenoMaria Briceno, BA Art and Archaeology, Sociology, St. Louis, Mo.

Maria Briceno is proud to be a third-generation graduate of Mizzou. Her grandfather and both of her parents are alumni. Her parents met at Booches, and she thinks of Mizzou as her second home.

Briceno’s future plans include working with the Peace Corps to teach English in Colombia, South America, for two years. When she returns to the states, she plans to pursue an advanced degree, either in social work or public policy. Her long-term goal is to work with refugees, either here or abroad.

“The highlight of my experience at MU was having a position on the Association of Latin American Students exec board as vice president,” says Briceno. “While serving, I curated a multimedia art show on National Womxn’s Day to celebrate womxn artists on campus and in the greater Columbia area, highlighting Latinx artists in the community.”

Briceno says that in addition to her family, she is thankful for the professors who challenged and supported her. “They encouraged me to participate in the first Women of Color, Honor and Ambition cohort on Mizzou’s campus, to curate my first art show, to explore a career in art therapy with an internship, to represent Mizzou student leaders on a Hillel trip to Israel, and to apply to the Peace Corps. I don’t know that I would have had any of those opportunities had I not come here.”

Dane Clutter in Greece Summer 2018Dane Clutter, BS Biological Sciences, BA Classics, Jefferson City, Mo.

After spending two-and-a-half years of his college career working as an emergency medical technician, Dane Clutter won’t be resting on his laurels after graduation, either. He wants to learn American sign language, Spanish, and piano, for starters. He also plans to translate a couple passages of Lord of the Rings into ancient Greek (in meter, for the classicists out there). And he’ll still work as an EMT for University Hospital.

Clutter plans to apply for medical school in June 2020, but he’s looking forward to the opportunity for some rest and relaxation after graduation (in between the ASL, Spanish, piano, and maybe a medical mission trip or two). He especially looks forward to a trip to New Zealand with his mother where he’s certain to visit the filming sites of, you guessed it, Lord of the Rings.

His academic career made a bit of a turn when he moved from Missouri S&T to MU. He took a mythology class his first semester here and ended up majoring in biology and classics. His ancient Greek class will remain a favorite memory for him.“To everyone who has supported me in any way, shape, or form, your help has benefited me in more ways than you can imagine,” says Clutter. “It's hard to quantify just how much someone helps you when their support can manifest in such different ways. I know that at the end of the day, these degrees are another step closer to my ultimate goal of practicing medicine. I would not have been able to achieve what I have up to this point without the helping hands of the many, many gracious folks I have around me.”

Kendra Cowart, BA Romance Languages and Literatures, Interdisciplinary Studies with emphasis in Black Studies, and Psychology, Chicago, Ill.Kendra Cowart

After graduation, Kendra Cowart will stay in Columbia and either work as a Spanish teacher at Battle High School or as a college advisor for the Missouri Collage Advising Corps while she prepares to go to graduate school.

Cowart’s top three highlights from her time at Mizzou are: 1) Traveling to Ireland with Marching Mizzou, 2) being able to walk backward and represent Mizzou on Tour Team, and 3) having Mizzou challenge and shape her into the person she is today.

The person she is today is one who is eager to leave her mark on Columbia. “There is so much need in this growing town,” she says, “so many youth who need nurturing, families that need to be healed, college students who need to be encouraged, and I am excited to share my wisdom and experience in this town and to the very stretches of the Earth! The healing starts now!”

“I thank my parents for their sacrifice and support throughout my journey,” Cowart says. “They kept me going and poured love on me. I thank my life coach, Mary, for being my role model, guide, and confidant. I thank all the various friends who came at different parts of my journey, to support, help, heal, and nurture me. And I want to give a special thanks to Professor Kristine Kopp, Dr. April Langley, LeAnn Stroupe, Theresa Solis Metz, Dr. Bettencourt, and countless other professors, advisors and the like who guided, advised, and loved me enough to push me to my full potential. This journey was seriously amazing, and I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Cowart advises, “Please enjoy these four-plus years of your life, as they go by so fast. When they are gone, they’re gone, and you’ll never be able to get them back!”


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