Continuing a Mizzou Legacy

As Owen Neely embarks on the next step of his academic journey at the University of Missouri, he is ready to pursue his passions.

Neely grew up in Lockwood, Missouri, a town of less than 1,000 people located northwest of Springfield. He is interested in a career in medicine – and is hoping to eventually return to his small-town roots and bring great healthcare options to rural residents.

Neely has the perfect blueprint to follow. His mother, Angie Whitesell, earned a biochemistry degree from Mizzou, as well as her medical degree. She is a family care physician in Lockwood and has served the community for more than 15 years.

“It’s really neat to be following the same path that she did,” said Neely, who will also be majoring in biochemistry at MU. “Our journeys are very much connected, which is really meaningful, as my parents have been my biggest advocates throughout my educational pursuits.”

Neely comes from a family of Tigers. His father received three degrees from Mizzou, and Neely also has an aunt and uncle who attended, as well as a couple of cousins. Neely spent plenty of time on campus growing up, returning nearly every year with his family for the Homecoming festivities.

“The family connection to MU is so strong; it’s in our blood,” Neely said. “Mizzou was home for me from an early age. I love Columbia, and I’m excited to join this vibrant community.”

While MU was always at the top of Neely’s list of universities, being named a Stamps Scholar sealed the deal. Mizzou has partnered with the Stamps Scholars Program since 2016 on a premier scholarship for incoming Tigers. Scholars receive a full four-year scholarship, covering up to the total estimated cost of attendance, plus an additional $16,000 enrichment fund for them to use throughout their time at MU.

“It was definitely exciting to receive the Stamps scholarship,” Neely said. “It’s a huge blessing. I’m ready to engage in all the outstanding opportunities, such as undergraduate research and study abroad. I can’t wait to get started.”

Stamps Scholars must be enrolled in the Honors College for all four years, working toward the completion of the Honors certificate. Scholars have a dedicated mentor, contact with campus leadership, alumni networking opportunities and funding for study abroad, too.

Neely is one of eight Stamps Scholars who will be at Mizzou this fall.

“I’ve quickly learned that the faculty and staff in the Honors College genuinely care about the students and want us all to succeed,” Neely said. “It feels really good to have them as a support system, and I know they’ll be great resources for me.”

Another perk of being a Stamps Scholar is the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research, with the guidance of a Mizzou faculty mentor. Neely is working with Shari Freyermuth, assistant dean in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Office of Academic Programs, and an associate teaching professor of biochemistry.

“I have an extraordinary mentor in Dr. Freyermuth, who has helped me a lot already,” Neely said. “She understands that I don’t have a rich research background and is helping me navigate everything. Research is something that I wanted to do at MU, so I’m thankful that I’ll have this opportunity.”

While Neely has plenty to keep him busy on campus this fall, he will also have a packed schedule of off-campus activities during the next year that will take him across the state. Neely is the first vice president on the Missouri FFA officer team. He grew up on a farm and was incredibly involved in his local FFA chapter in Lockwood.

“I was elected in April, and it’s been a really fun ride so far,” Neely said. “I’m excited to share my experiences with other FFA members, as well as with agricultural community in CAFNR. I was drawn to biochemistry because I love learning about cells and molecular life, but I am also happy that the degree program is in CAFNR. It’s the perfect combination for me.”

With so many exciting opportunities to look forward to, Neely said he is still focused on his primary goal of eventually attending medical school. He is already looking at the Bryant Scholars Pre-Admissions Program, which encourages students from rural backgrounds to pursue a medical education.

“I’m really fortunate to have learned so much from my mom and the important work that she does,” Neely said. “There is a big disparity in healthcare for individuals who live in rural areas, and I feel like it’s a problem that’s not talked about enough. I’m only one person, but I hope I can use the skills that I develop at Mizzou to bring more healthcare options to smaller communities.”