PALMYRA | The Great River Tigers Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association kept a summer tradition going strong as 52 students met on Zoom with Mizzou representatives, alumni, parents and supporters on Thursday evening for the first virtual student sendoff for University of Missouri students.
Morgan Kopitsky, liaison between the MAA office in Columbia and the GRT Chapter which covers Northeast Missouri and West-Central Illinois, coordinated the virtual event, noting the GRT Chapter event will serve as a model for other chapters across Missouri and the country.
Al Kennett, event chairman, Ken Disselhorst, chapter president, and current students AJ Fisher and Brin Driscoll were among the presenters welcoming each student. After the students played a game of Mizzou trivia, they met in online rooms to introduce themselves, tell where they were from and what major they were pursuing.
“It's really cool to have that collaboration and see everyone come together and share ideas,” Kopitsky said. “Because whether you're in a county in Missouri or a huge metropolitan city or you live somewhere where all your alumni are spread out but you still make it work, there's a lot to learn from each other, and it's comforting to know that Mizzou spirit is everywhere.”
A surprise guest made an appearance to welcome the incoming and returning Tigers to Mizzou. Women's Basketball Head Coach Robin Pingeton encouraged each student to utilize all of the resources available to them at the school. She said she coached at many different universities, and “nothing is like Mizzou.”
“The Mizzou family is always special, and I just want to encourage you guys as you continue on this journey at Mizzou to really understand you've got a lot of people here that are anxious to get you back on campus and to support you,” Pingeton said. “This is such a special time in your life — it goes really fast, and it's really up to you to make the most of it.”
Pingeton said many groups and people are ready to support the students on campus, and the GRT Chapter members will be there for each year.
Kennett talked about how the late Ron Dedert was instrumental in the beginning of the GRT Chapter. Faith Boylen received a $1,000 scholarship in his memory.
“We lost Ron this past fall, but he was one of the people that really was the backbone of getting this started — him and John Longlett, Shirley (Longlett) and Sarah (Bockhold),” Kennett said.
Bockhold announced the recipients of four $1,000 scholarships: Emma Deien, Ashlyn Eisele, Aubry Boulware and Delaney Miller. Amy Bryan received the Capstone Scholarship for $1,000 for each of four years at Mizzou. Kennett thanked the donors for their support of the chapter, recognizing dozens of sponsors from the area. Ken and McKenzie Disselhorst's 5-year-old daughter, Quinn, drew student's names from a black and gold Mizzou bowl to determine the winners of 11 scholarships for $500: Scot Roberts the scholarship in memory of Troy Disselhorst; Emily Dehner won the scholarship from Fiddlestiks; Nathan Schutte received the scholarship from Gerald and Carla Schoenborn; Delanie Fohey got the scholarship from Jared and Gina Pontius; Keller Shemwell was recipient of the scholarship from Rachel Bringer Shepherd; and Kaden Malone was recipient of the scholarship from Schmiedeskamp Robertson Neu & Mitchell Law Firm. Four students received additional $500 scholarships: Hannah Deien, Kasen Rademan, Maggie Schutte and Shayna Young.
Kennett said the group missed the individual introductions and games this year — like drawing a card and finding the student with their match at Jackson Park Golf Course — but Disselhorst said the different format kept the spirit of camaraderie and support going despite the situation surrounding the coronavirus.
“Like Ken said, this is a way of doing this and keeping it going. Sometimes, when you don't do something, it's very hard to get it started again,” Kennett said.
More information about the GRT Chapter of MAA is available by visiting https://greatriver.missourialumnispaces.com or the Mizzou Alumni — Great River Tigers Facebook page.