I was born and raised here in Springfield, MO. Both my parents went to Missouri State University, but at that time it was called Southwest Missouri State University. They meet while working at an event planning committees that help set up for concerts. Twenty-eight years and three kids later, they are still happily married.
Like I said before, me and my sisters grew up in Springfield, so of course when I was about to graduate from high school and I was looking for colleges, I could not actually stay in Springfield. I was 18 and convinced that I needed to go somewhere where no one from my high school was going. So I ended up going to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
After going there for 4 ½ years I finally graduated with a B.S. in Biology, and I was ready to get a cool job doing some kind of “Saving the World” conservation. After job hunting for over a year I finally got a job at the Missouri Department of Conservation. I worked there for a year and it was great, but I was at the bottom of the totem pole. I talked with my supervisor multiple times about grad school, and I decided that I was ready to go back to get my Master’s degree.
Looking for a graduate school was a lot different from when I was 18 looking for an undergraduate college. I knew that I was going to have to find a professor that I could work close with for the next two years. I started to look at multiple schools, including Missouri State University. I also knew that I wanted to work with reptiles and amphibians, so I started looking at different people who work with these creatures.
After some research, I found that MSU has 3 professors which mainly work with these animals. So I decided to schedule an appointment to meet with them and see what their research labs were like. I met with Dr. Alicia Mathis (my current advisor), and I loved her lab! After talking to her I decided to walk around campus, and even though I had been on campus several years before, I really liked what I saw. I was sold!
I am now a 1st year graduate student in the Biology Department. I have only just started my MSU experience, but so far it has been great! I have met so many different people and I really love being here. Even though MSU is bigger than my old school it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I can’t wait to see what my next 2 years bring! – Shannon Johnson
Shannon is a McNair Scholar and a Graduate Assistant in the Biology Department.