PALMYRA | Each year the Great River Tigers chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association holds a summer student sendoff, so current and incoming students from the area can get to know each other and get an opportunity to receive a scholarship.
The coronavirus pandemic has made such a gathering unworkable. But Al Kennett, the event chairman, said members didn't want the tradition to lapse. Instead of the usual gathering at Jackson Golf Park, the student sendoff will be done via Zoom teleconference at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 23.
The annual tradition for the GRT chapter of the MAA includes the announcement of six winners of $1,000 scholarships for incoming and current University of Missouri students from Hannibal and Quincy, Ill. and surrounding counties — the 2020 freshmen recipients are: Amy Bryan of Palmyra, Mo; Emma Deien, of Hannibal; Faith Boylen, of Mount Sterling, Ill.; and Ashlyn Eisele, of Perry, Mo. Current MU students Delaney Miller, of Paris, Mo. and Aubry Boulware, of Canton, Mo. also received $1,000 scholarships. Students participating in the Zoom call will have the chance to enter a drawing for one of six to eight $500 scholarships, and Kennett said support for the student awards was strong, with 90% repeat donors giving for this year's event.
This year, Kennett said chapter liaison and MAA staff member Morgan Kopitzky have been busy coordinating the online student sendoff. Each student will be introduced, and the drawing for the $500 scholarships will take place as before. Students will get the chance to hear from a couple of speakers during the event, and Kopitzky said there will likely be a surprise.
“We thought this was a way to do it that would still involves the kids — it won't involve people from the public as much,” Kennett said, noting the Thursday date could attract an even larger group of students than the 35 to 45 students who come to the sendoff each year in Palmyra.
Students are set to receive their first registration and invitation email Tuesday or Wednesday, with a follow-up email scheduled next week. Kennett encouraged area Mizzou students to join the student sendoff. More information on the Great River Tigers or the Zoom event is available by contacting Ken Disselhorst, chapter president, at 573-822-3850, or Kennett at 573-248-6947.
“It's rewarding to have the number of students attend that we've been having,” Kennett said. “That's what we do it for — to recognize the students and honor them. This way, we're still doing that. It won't be the same as shaking hands and hugging, but we'll still see each other.”