Alumni Spotlights: Tigers Sharing Wisdom


For the remainder of fall semester, the MU Career Center will be featuring alumni spotlights on Instagram. I’d encourage you to follow along as you read about the career journeys of Mizzou alums from a variety of backgrounds and majors. Each alum not only talked about their Mizzou experience but shared their advice for current Tigers. Here are some great takeaways from our conversations:

Nick Hathaway
Bachelor of Journalism, 2015
Director of JUMP Connected and Program Innovation

Nick shared that his experiences at Mizzou, more than his degree program, defined his career trajectory. At Mizzou, his extracurriculars gave him “the energy and excitement to complete my formal studies.” He participated in Mizzou Alternative Breaks, annual Caring for Columbia events, completed a service-learning internship, served as the Marketing Director of the Women’s Leadership Conference, and worked on-campus at a job he loved. These experiences “taught me more than all of my formal studies.” His advice to MU students is to engage and learn. “I cannot recommend enough simply volunteering for a semester at a center or campus office that you may be interested to learn more about. It is rare to have so many types of experiences so accessible. There are so many incredibly people to learn from in these spaces. I have learned that it is equally valuable in finding what you like and do not like through this experience.”

Sam Blanco
Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies – MU, 2003; Master’s of Education – Queen’s College, 2007; PhD Applied Behavior Analysis – Endicott College 2017
Director of Research and Development at Encore Support Services

Students often feel like they have to know the exact path they should be on and the impact of each decision they make. Sam says that “You can stress yourself out with all the ‘what ifs’ of every potential decision. The fact is that some choices will work out beautifully and others won’t no matter how well you plan. You have to make the best choice for yourself with the information you have at the moment, and then make adjustments as you learn more.” We learn from successes as well as our missteps and failures, so don’t add unnecessary pressure to your undergrad experience.

Maude Ashby
Bachelor’s in Biology, May 2018 
PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota (studying Immunology)

Maude realized grad school was in her future after she had the chance to work in a lab her junior year. It was the “most impactful thing that happened in my career path so far.” And while she has a deep passion for science and research, she understands the importance of work-life balance. “Prioritizing your mental health is prioritizing your career! I used to think that in order to get into graduate school, I just had to settle for being miserable/overwhelmed during college. I told myself that I would figure out how to be happier when I had more time later in life. But when I finally started taking time to take care of myself, I found that it also made me a better student, and even now I find that it makes me a better scientist.”

Kennae Grigsby
Degree: Bachelor’s in Health Science 2015; JD from UMKC
Assistant Public Defender with the Missouri State Public Defender

Kennae is a firm believer in self-growth and the power of new experiences. She advises to students to “not get stuck in your comfort zone because growth happens when you are uncomfortable!”  She encourages students to:

  • Take a class that you are interested in but is not a requirement.  
  • Go on that study abroad trip. 
  • Take that internship far away from home. 
  • Join that club you are interested in.  

The Career Center will continue to post alumni spotlights over the next five weeks so follow those stories and carefully listen to the advice. If you are interested in speaking with an alum and are seeking advice, please check out the Mizzou Mentoring Program. Hundreds of Mizzou alums from diverse backgrounds and careers are standing ready to help you and other Tigers be successful. Join for free today!