Colton Lynn first attended Mizzou.
“When I was up there, it was really big and really beautiful. Mizzou has always struck me as that kind of campus – that you would see in movies. I went up there for that reason, and I ended up not liking it that much. I felt like a very small insect, like an ant, among a bunch of other ants.”
He decided to check out Missouri State. The lower cost of tuition caught his attention first. Plus, his family lives in the area. Lynn made the move.
“I came down here and got involved with a bunch of clubs, got involved with residence life here on campus and ended up as an RA,” Lynn said.
In no time, he was making new friends and no longer felt like a tiny ant trapped in a swarm of other ants.
“I think the peak of that was when I could walk across campus any time of day, any day of the week, and have to wave (to) at least one person. I feel I was able to be recognized and do things that made me stand out.”
Making his statement in biology
“The most impactful faculty member would be Dr. Alicia Mathis.” Lynn says he took a few of her courses on behavior ecology and comparative vertebrate anatomy during his undergrad. It was the lab that pushed him to pursue a master’s degree in biology.
“She thankfully took me on in her lab and I’ve been there ever since.”
In fact, he loved it so much he applied for a graduate assistantship. Though, he didn’t get the research assignment he wanted.
“I got the teaching assistantship and I was like, ‘I dunno. I dunno if I can do this.’ Then, first day, I was like, ‘I like this. This is great.’ It just kind of clicked after that.”
It was a great match. In November, he received departmental and university-wide distinguished teaching assistant awards.
It’s tough to balance your own studies with teaching, but Lynn remained determined to help his students succeed.
“My favorite part is when students come to me and tell me that I made a difference in their lives. I try to include more than just the course material in my labs. Like telling students about other opportunities at the university, such as undergraduate research.”
He says the real reward is helping your fellow Bears excel beyond the classroom. “I was helping proctor the lecture final exam for BIO 121 and I got to say goodbye to all of my students as they left, and get handshakes and ‘thank yous.’ It was really awesome.”
Future in sight
“I am going to take a year or two off to get some more experience before applying to PhD programs.” Lynn says he and his girlfriend Emily are heading to Portland, Oregon.
“There are more opportunities out there for me, and Emily has a lot of opportunity, too. So, we want to start fresh in a new city, experience more and just grow outside of school for a little while.”
Lynn says after his teaching and undergraduate experience, getting a PhD is definitely on his radar. Ultimately, the biggest reason he’s made it this far is all the support he found at MSU.
“I have accomplished more than I could have imagined when I first started this degree. I just know that I never could have done it without the support of the faculty, staff, other grad students and my family.
“Nobody makes it alone and I am truly indebted to the people that have helped me in my journey. I want to make a special shout out to my research laboratory supervisor and office-mate, Ben Dalton, for fielding my unrelenting stream of questions and pushing me forward.”