Published on Feb. 11, 2022
Let’s take a look back at the 2021 Cohort
Since 2016, the University of Missouri’s Honors College has welcomed a select group of students into the prestigious Stamps Scholars program. In 2021, the Honors College admitted five students to the program:
- Emma McDougal, Cape Girardeau, MO, Chemical Engineering.
- Harmon Colvett, Memphis, TN, Biomedical Engineering.
- Olivia Gyapong, Silver Spring, MD, Journalism.
- Yasmeen Saadi, Leawood, KS, Journalism.
- George Frees, Harrisonville, MO, Biochemistry.
The road to becoming a Stamps Scholar is a lengthy process; candidates undergo a series of interviews and essays before they are eligible to be selected.
After submitting their applications to both the University of Missouri and the Honors College, prospective Stamps Scholars then submit additional materials to be considered for the program. In the first round, applicants wrote essays. A select group went on to complete the next portion, an online, asynchronous interview, before moving on to the final round of the selection process.
“There was a scholarship weekend where the final 14 candidates or so come together and were narrowed down to seven,” said Harmon Colvett, a newcomer to the Stamps Scholars program. “The final interview was with the Stamps foundation itself.”
Once the application process had been completed, five scholars were selected. Mizzou Stamps Scholars receive a four-year full scholarship in addition to a $16,000 dollar enrichment fund.
Stamps Scholars also have additional opportunities such as a dedicated mentor, contact with campus leadership, alumni networking, funding for study abroad, and attendance at the biennial Stamps Scholars National Convention in Atlanta, GA.
Stamps Scholars also participate in research straight out of the gate their freshman year of college.
“Getting to engage with research this early has pretty much defined my college experience up to this point,” McDougal furthered. “I found it really fulfilling, it adds an extra dimension to my education.”
McDougal was afforded the opportunity to work and conduct research with some of Mizzou’s best faculty, principally Dr. Bret Ulery’s Biomodulatory Materials Engineering Laboratory (BioMEL). In the lab, McDougal uses her passion for science to aid in cancer pharmaceutical delivery.
“Many of us have loved ones who have faced or are facing cancer,” McDougal said. “Being able to do anything related to that has been a really fascinating and interesting process.”
Another new Stamps Scholar, Olivia Gyapong, used her research opportunity to work with Dr. Yong Volz. Gyapong’s research expounds upon Dr. Volz’s database of Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, looking for common trends amongst the prize’s winners from 2011–2021.
“[The research] is to help write a report about what the keys to success are for journalists and or to build a report to check the Pulitzer committee on their biases,” said Gyapong. “If I’m noticing that mostly white males who are Ivy League educated are getting Pulitzer prizes, that’s something I’ll note [and] give that to Dr. Volz.”
Stamps Scholars don’t spend all their time in the classroom or lab. Together, the Stamps Scholars enjoy fun times and events.
While COVID-19 has shrinked the scope of what the Stamps Scholars can do this year, that hasn’t stopped them from making the most out of the pandemic.
“With all of the Stamps Scholars, I really enjoyed our first dinner here where we all met at El Oso in downtown Columbia and walked to Sparky’s after,” furthered Gyapong. “Getting to have pizza with Mun Choi and the other deans was really fun too.”
The Stamps Scholars organization and community has meant a lot to its recipients, including new cohort members Yasmeen Saadi and George Frees.
“Starting research and being introduced to so many opportunities all in my freshman year has been more than I expected,” said Saadi. “It has really allowed me to grow my interest and ambitions this year.”
“[Stamps Scholars] has provided me with a multitude of opportunities to… further my interest and education,” Frees commented. “And most importantly be a part of the cohort and meet some incredibly talented and kind people who I am lucky enough to call my friends.”