A Student Story: T-Asia Mays
Run into T-Asia Mays, a sophomore in the Darr School of Agriculture at Missouri State University, and it is hard to imagine her as anything but a MSU Bear. Nearly always donned head-to-toe in Bear Wear (whether it is Friday or not), her love for the University and her Animal Science Program in the School of Agriculture is infectious. However, the St. Louis native, as a high school student, wasn’t sold on journeying down I-44 to attend MSU, but donor-funded scholarships helped her make the decision she says is one of the best she ever made.
One might wonder how a self-proclaimed “City Girl” like T-Asia ended up working with cattle and crops. Since she was little T-Asia has always adored animals; in addition to her tight-knit family that includes 17 other siblings, there were always a few dog, cats, or rabbits running around her abode. This interest in animals led T-Asia to pursue the pre-veterinary track in high school, giving her opportunities to shadow and work with animals and animal professionals in various settings around the St. Louis Metro.
Through that shadowing she made her first career discovery: she was not meant to be a vet. Her mother, a nurse, helped her cultivate a deep interest for helping others and a heart for caring, but with that came squeamishness towards surgeries. Luckily, in her Senior Year of high school T-Asia was placed in an internship at Grant’s Farm, where she got to participate in the daily care and nutritional concerns of the animals. She had found a way to channel her love for animals into something she loved doing, but now she needed to the college education to make that into a successful career.
That year she also attended a college preparatory camp in St. Louis that helped students find universities with quality programs in their area of interest. For animal sciences T-Asia was provided with a list of three schools; Missouri State University was on that list.
In visiting the schools, T-Asia says Missouri State felt right. “It was close enough to home to have a safety net, but far enough away to feel like you’re on your own. Springfield had all the amenities of a big city, but with friendliness and a feeling you could run into someone you knew anywhere you go.” However, she was most impressed with the people on campus. “When I first visited campus, I really understood what ‘Finding your passion and finding your place’ meant. Everyone on campus cared about their programs, cared about you as a student, and cared about the campus community. It was incredible and I felt right at home.”
It all came down to finances and, in the end, T-Asia was offered two major donor-funded scholarships at Missouri State University. That was what made her mind up. Recipient of the Norman M. Spiva Scholarship, named after a successful businessman and 1938 MSU graduate, and recipient of the Dr. J.N. Smith/FCS Financial Scholarship in the Darr School of Agriculture, T-Asia believes her education and success at Missouri State wouldn’t be possible without this donor-funded financial aid. “It’s amazing knowing that people so influential in their own communities would give privately to help a student they’ve never met. I just know, if this person that has never met me believes in me and is willing to invest in my future, then I can accomplish anything.”
That private investment looks to already be paying off. As a sophomore, T-Asia has already been guaranteed a position at Grant’s Farm upon graduation, but she’s looking forward to a few more years as a Bear first.