Published on Sept. 23, 2020
The MU Honors College is welcoming six freshmen to its Stamps Scholars Program for the fall 2020 semester, celebrating its first year with scholars in each class, freshman through senior.
Introduced in 2016, Stamps is the MU Honors College’s premier scholarship program, sponsored by the Strive Foundation, Inc.
The six new scholars represent some of the nation’s top students, demonstrating academic merit, strong leadership potential and exceptional character. Selected from more than 418 total applicants, the scholars underwent three rounds of application including initial essays, a virtual interview and an in-person semifinalist weekend.
“The Stamps Scholars program allows us to select from among the most talented students in the nation,” said J.D. Bowers, director of the Honors College. “We are fortunate to have these students come to Mizzou, contribute to our campus and community and to inject our college with intellectual vitality and ambitions.”
Each scholar came to MU in their own fashion. For Gabriela Kauffman (Lohman, Missouri), MU had always been a front runner. Stamps Scholars weekend, however, provided a new outlook on an old favorite.
“I learned so much about Mizzou, the Honors College and the opportunities available,” Kauffman said. “It really solidified my choice.”
Samuel Peterson (Joplin, Missouri) had a different experience, describing his decision process as one that put him “through the ringer.”
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Peterson committed to MU late in the summer of 2020. But he was ultimately grateful that the scholarship helped him make the late decision.
“The selection process helped refine my understanding of what was possible for me at Mizzou,” Peterson said.
Each new scholar said one of the most memorable moments of the selection process was the sense of community they felt gathered in the hotel lobby on the final evening of the semifinalist weekend.
“We played card games and just talked,” Maddie Reiser (Pleasant Plains, Illinois) said. “We could all relax and be ourselves after our shared experiences. Our Stamps journey made it easier to connect and become friends.”
Across seven different majors, the scholars came to MU to apply their personal passions to an undergraduate degree. Sarah George (Boulder, Colorado) said she was drawn to MU for its world renowned School of Journalism.
“I enjoyed connecting with people through their stories and personalities,” George said. “I felt incredibly supported by faculty and by students, and I could see myself creating a community here in which I could thrive.”
In addition to their academic coursework, each scholar will participate in one-on-one faculty-guided research or artistry. Caroline Topham (Louisville, Kentucky), a linguistics major, said the opportunity to pursue research as a freshman was a selling point.
Topham has already begun her research fellowship and plans to study abroad to document Luyia, a tribal language in Kenya.
“Normally, I wouldn’t be able to start doing actual documentation work until graduate school, so this experience so early is amazing,” Topham said.
Each scholar receives a four-year, full-ride scholarship as well as an additional $16,000 enrichment fund to be applied to their studies, vision and contribution to the world. But Bryson Ferguson (McKinney, Texas) said that to him the scholarship was more than a full ride.
“Stamps, to me, is the community of people,” Ferguson said. “It’s the opportunity to use enrichment funds to support my goals. It’s the professional connections made within the school. I found a college that wants to support me, and that is a good fit.”