The World as a Classroom

Sara George posing for a picture with Maddie Reiser
A Stamps Scholar, Sara George (pictured on the right) has had a variety of exciting hands-on learning experiences while at the University of Missouri, including two opportunities to study abroad. She is pictured here with fellow Stamps Scholar Maddie Reiser. Photo courtesy of Sara George.

Sara George, a senior double majoring in journalism and Spanish from Boulder, Colorado, did not originally have Mizzou on her radar. That changed her sophomore year of high school when her dad, an alumnus originally from Kansas City, Missouri, mentioned the prestige of Mizzou’s School of Journalism. After learning more about the program and the opportunities available for study abroad, George agreed that Mizzou was the place for her. 

George was named a Stamps Scholar after undergoing the Honors scholarship application process during her senior year of high school. The Stamps Scholars Program awards recipients a four-year, full scholarship and an additional $16,000 enrichment fund to be put toward further academic opportunities during their time at Mizzou. 

“When I came to visit, I was really struck by the support that I thought I would have by faculty, especially being in the Honors College,” George said. “Being in Stamps, I felt really supported and like people wanted me here.”

Once she arrived at Mizzou, George jumped directly into undergraduate research during her freshman and sophomore years with Alison Young, an investigative reporter and director of Mizzou Journalism’s Washington Program.

“(Young) has been one of my greatest mentors,” George said. “She’s just been a really, really great mentor and just a resource as well. It’s been the same with a lot of the other advisors and mentors that I’ve had over the years.”

Sara George
George is a double major, pursuing degrees in journalism and Spanish. Photo courtesy of Sara George.

The J-School provided additional opportunities for George through its real-world approach to experience through the Missouri Method. The Missouri Method prepares students for their media careers by combining learning in the classroom with hands-on experience in real newsrooms and offices in the community.

Currently, George uses the Missouri Method at The Missourian as a reporter through Mizzou’s School of Journalism.

“It’s a really good opportunity to get some field experience and makes you feel like you’re actually contributing impactful work to the community,” George said. 

George has also gained hands-on experience in other countries through two different study abroad programs. She spent the summer after her sophomore year in Peru living with a host family and taking Spanish classes. She also studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, last spring during her junior year.

“(Peru) was a really good experience,” George said. “I think every single time I’ve traveled it has really helped with my Spanish because you’re really immersed in it and you’re really having to think on your feet. It’s definitely a learning curve, but it definitely helps with the language over time and your confidence speaking it.

“When I was in Peru, I had a lot of anxiousness and nervousness heading up to the trip. I was like, ‘Is this the right decision to go on this trip?’ But I’m so, so grateful. I remember it was about week three and we were on a bus. I just had this moment where I was like, ‘I feel like I’m growing up to be the person I wanted to be as a young girl.’ And that was so meaningful to me. It was just amazing.”

In Barcelona, George took classes that focused on the culture and the Catalan language, as well as the journalism culture and mediums in Spain and how it covers topics related to different conflicts.

“I always knew I wanted to do the Barcelona trip. It was not even a question for me,” George said. “I worked for a local nonprofit, just doing a lot of communications work. It was a really good experience, because not only was I doing communications-related work, but I was also speaking in Spanish. So that was obviously very, very good for my Spanish level. I would eat lunch with my co-workers in Spanish and try to sit through meetings and understand everything. And they were really, really lovely about it, too, because they would always help me.”

Back in the U.S., George stays involved with her community. After her freshman year, she worked for Show Me Integrity, which works to reform voting in the state. She has also worked at the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office as a strategic communications intern, where she updated their content, reviewed legal material and helped out at a variety of events.

On the Mizzou campus, George has been involved with Women in Media, where she served as co-president in 2022 and on the executive team for two years. 

“I think, every single time you work in a new position, you learn how to work with people, and you learn more about yourself and your likes and your dislikes,” George said. “Over the years, I’ve really tried to take every single opportunity as a chance to learn more about myself and my interests.”

George said she has greatly enjoyed the Honors College programming and curriculum, especially Honors Tutorials, which are one-credit, topic-specific classes that typically enroll no more than five students.  

“I really love the Honors Tutorials and Honors Seminars because they allow you to have a little bit of another topic in your schedule, because it’s only a one-credit hour class,” George said. “It’s also a very small class so you get to know the professor and the other people in the class very easily.”

Sara George
George studied abroad in Peru and Barcelona, Spain. Photo courtesy of Sara George.

One of George’s favorite courses was an “Internet Law” class from sophomore year, which addressed how to apply law concepts to the digital age. The course offered a variety of guest speakers and discussed different approaches to a selection of case examples.

“I just learned so much through that course, and I was so engaged the entire time,” George said. “Understanding that I’ve engaged in those types of things has been really impactful in understanding what I want to do now because I want to go into the study of topics related to that area.”

George has refined her focus on her goals as she looks toward her future.

“I’ve always been really drawn to issues around media ethics and the changing media environment and how they affect us,” George said.

The Office of Global and National Fellowships has also played a part in shaping George’s goals for her future. This office works to match students with fellowship opportunities and provide them with support throughout the application process. 

“I’m looking at different opportunities after graduation, and what a career might look like that way,” George said. “The Fellowships office has been deeply influential and has almost forced me to reflect on where I see myself in the future. Regardless of whether I get [a fellowship] or not, I’m just so grateful to have gone through the process because it’s shown me a lot about myself.”

As she reflects on her college experience, George said she is thankful for the connections she has made and the opportunities that have shaped her as a person.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in my undergrad experience is that I feel much more genuinely curious and willing to advocate for myself,” George said. “I’m really grateful for the friends I’ve made throughout college. I’ve learned that there are so many people who are in my corner that just want the best for me … I love seeing them grow and seeing where they’re gonna go. 

George also credits Stamps with granting her opportunities to connect with students and faculty on campus. 

“A lot of my best friends come from Stamps,” George said. “I’m just so, so grateful to have been chosen for that program and I feel like it’s really developed my confidence. I think the culmination of everything that the program has given me has really contributed to who I am today in a really positive way. I’ll always be grateful for that.”