MSA 2019

by Elizabeth Trower

“Life Awakening,” they said. I wasn’t sure what lay beyond the doors of MSA, but I would come to experience a journey that lasted three weeks and really was “Life Awakening.”
This June I got the opportunity to attend Missouri Scholars Academy. 328 of Missouri’s brightest students going into their junior year of High School were brought together to live on Mizzou’s campus for three weeks while attending gifted classes and listening to guest speakers share their stories on how they are making a difference in our world. The goal was for the students to enrich their education with curriculum they normally wouldn’t receive at their school. When I got the acceptance letter from MSA I couldn’t contain my excitement. I felt so honored to be given this opportunity and I couldn’t wait to see what MSA had in store for me. With that being said, I was also so scared on leaving my family for three weeks considering I didn’t know anyone going into MSA. Little did I know I would meet amazing and wonderful people with hearts of gold. These people would impact my life in so many ways and would become my MSA family.
I could write a whole book on MSA, but I’ll keep it short. Let’s start from the beginning. On the first day I remember walking into my room and meeting my roommate and suitemates for the first time. They were the sweetest people ever and we immediately became friends. Over the course of three weeks we would form a bond that would last a lifetime.
The best part of day one was the opening ceremony where all the scholars walked down the aisle of the auditorium filled with all of our family and friends as they watched us become the Missouri Scholars Academy 2019. Pretty soon it was time to say our goodbyes to our families, which was super hard, but I was ready for this adventure, I was ready for MSA.
MSA is a powerful and wonderful experience for the scholars attending. With the jammed packed days, it was filled with many opportunities and guest speakers who played a huge role on impacting us scholars. We were given the privilege to try new majors that may have opened up new career paths for some. It definitely did for me. I was a part of the Missouri Scholars Action News major in which I got to film and record videos, report and write articles, and interact with the scholars, so we could report all that was happening at MSA. Let me tell you I was in my element going to cover all my stories and really get the inside scoop. I loved getting to capture a story, write about it, and then edit my video to go along with it. It was especially fun meeting all the wonderful people in my stories along the way. Being a part of this major actually opened up a career path for me. I talked to the Mizzou School of Journalism and who knows, maybe becoming a journalist is in my future.
Every day we also attended our minor classes and then COR PSD. COR was one of my favorite parts of MSA. It was where we could open up about ourselves, tell our stories. I really got to know my COR group and it was amazing to be able to hear their stories. It brought us all close together and it really connected us in just three short weeks. To finish out our days we attended afternoon and evening activities in which we got to listen to amazing guest speakers and try activities out of our comfort zone.
I was given the opportunity to learn ASL which was really neat, because now I have a new way of communicating with more people. I also got to listen to a Holocaust survivor and a Rwanda Genocide survivor tell their stories which were so inspiring to hear how they went through so much, yet they still are offering hope and giving back to their communities. At MSA we were given the opportunity to give back to our community with many service activities which I loved because I love helping others. Between learning African dance, to learning how to contact juggle, to the many dances, MSA definitely broadened my cultural learning.
My favorite moment of MSA was the candle lighting on the quad. All 328 of us gathered in front of the columns with a lit candle. We all went around embracing one another with hugs while singing, crying, and laughing while we said our goodbyes. It was during this that I realized how much I was going to miss these people I had become so close with. We came to MSA not knowing one another or what was in store for us. But over three weeks we grew, developed, and gained different outlooks on the world. We gained friends who are only a phone call away. We gained a second family.
MSA isn’t an experience everyone is granted, so when opportunity comes knocking at your door it is wise to take it. I had no idea three weeks ago that what I was going to experience would change my life. I came in as a determined student who was eager to learn all I could, and I left as an MSA scholar who had more knowledge on the world, my friends and family, and most of all myself. I was able to experience things that made a lasting impact on me. My education was enhanced by this wonderful program and I can’t wait to take back what I learned to my school. The people I met will forever have a special place in my heart. They weren’t lying when they said MSA will be “Life Awakening.”