Fall Commencement Tip Sheet

by News Bureau on Monday, Dec. 05, 2011

Fall commencement at Southeast Missouri State University is planned for 2 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Show Me Center arena. Some candidates for graduation have reported interesting feature stories about themselves that could be developed in connection with commencement. These story tips with contact names and information are listed below. Students will begin assembling for commencement at 1:15 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center-North. With advance notice, the Southeast News Bureau is happy to make arrangements for you to meet and interview any of the graduates listed below between 1:15 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Student Recreation Center-North. Call the News Bureau at (573) 651-2552 with any questions about these or other commencement stories.

Aaron Murray of Farmington, Mo., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in physical education. He is a third-generation graduate of Southeast, and all three generations studied in the education program. Murray’s grandfather is retired after serving as the industrial technology teacher in the Doniphan School District. Murray’s father has been in education for 25 years and is currently the director of technology in the Hillsboro R-3 School District. Murray, himself, has landed a job and will begin teaching television production and journalism at Farmington High School. Murray can be reached at (573) 701-2091 or almurray1s@semo.edu.

Nicholas Cato of Cape Girardeau, Mo., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in English education. He said he was told by a guidance counselor in ninth grade that he was not college material. In the last decade, though, Cato has twice graduated with honors. As a high school English teacher, he said he hopes his students know the faith he has in their abilities. Cato can be reached at (636) 575-3073 or nscato1s@semo.edu.

Syreeta Barnes of Malden, Mo., will graduate with a Bachelor of General Studies with a minor in psychological services. Barnes has attended Southeast Missouri State University-Malden for three years. She is a single mother of a 17-year-old daughter. Barnes has overcome many hardships to get to this point. She began college in June 1998 at Three Rivers Community College and graduated in May 2001 with an Associates of Applied Science in the medical field. She worked two full-time jobs and a weekend job while going to college full time and raising a three-year-old child alone. She then worked for seven years as a clinic billing coordinator but always felt there was more for her to accomplish. In August 2008, Barnes enrolled full time at Southeast while continuing working nine hours a day at the clinic and being a single parent. In spring 2011, Barnes was named to the Southeast Dean’s List. She says the pressures of completing a Southeast degree intensified as she moved closer to fulfilling her dream. She hopes to become a mental health counselor and chief executive officer of a facility that will help individuals overcome depression, alcohol, substance and domestic violence abuse. “My passion is to help the hurting in this world and to let them know that they are not alone and there are people out in this world who will help them overtake and overcome their addictions,” she said. Her next goal is to pursue a master’s degree to become a licensed mental health counselor. “Overall, my motivation throughout all of this was to make a better life for my daughter and to let her know that despite the many choices and decisions that you make in this life, good or bad, that life is a struggle, but not a constant struggle,” she said. “A made up of mind about anything can change the hands of time.” Barnes can be reached at (573) 276-4227 or sabarnes2s@semo.edu.

Amber Marshall of Herrin, Ill., will graduate with a Bachelor of General Studies. Her mother, Dawn Marshall, was a teenager when she gave birth to Amber. According to Amber, statistically neither she nor her mother, should have graduated from high school, much less gone to college. Dawn graduated from Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with concentrations in mathematics and middle school in August 2001. She also earned a Master of Arts in secondary education-middle school from Southeast in December 2005. Dawn also earned a Specialist in Education in educational leadership from Southeast in December 2009. She earned all three degrees while working and raising three children. “She is the reason I am seeing my own college graduation,” Amber said. “I’m immensely proud of her and all the hard work she has put in.” Marshall says her mother has made a difference in the lives of so many children, both in and out of the classroom. Amber can be reached at alreed1s@semo.edu or (618) 925-0608.

Nicky Muse of Kennett, Mo., will receive a Bachelor of Science with a major in criminal justice, corrections options. She comes from three generations of law enforcement professionals. In 1973, she promised her dying mother she would attend college, which she did with the assistance of hearing aids. Muse can be reached at (573) 888-1849 or nmmuse1s@semo.edu.

Robert Pickens of Perryville, Mo., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science with a major in psychology. He is a single custodial father who finished school while going through a divorce. He raised his three children by himself on a fraction of the income he once had. He said it has been a long, dark road, but he made it. Pickens can be reached at rspickens1s@semo.edu.

Amanda Gschaar of St. Louis will graduate with a Bachelor of Science with a major in social work. She and another graduating senior, Jamie Litteken, have been accepted into the Americorps NCCC Winter 2012 program. They will depart in February for a 10-month stay stationed out of Vicksberg, Miss. Gschaar can be reached at (314) 352-4355 or amgschaar1s@semo.edu.

Bradley Williams of Fort Belvoir, Va., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in accounting. He and his twin are the first of their family to graduate from a four-year university. While studying at Southeast, Williams traveled to nearly all 50 states and five countries. Williams can be reached at (623) 824-2165 or bkwilliams2s@semo.edu.

Katie Powell of Foley, Mo., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science with a major in human environmental studies, child development option. She is a first-generation college graduate and earned the Horatio Alger Award for being a distinguished student who overcame adversity. Powell can be reached at (636) 544-5303 or klpowell2s@semo.edu.

Stephanie Schwartz of Quincy, Ill., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science with a major in historic preservation. Schwartz designed the Southeast Habitat for Humanity House being built on Fountain Street in Cape Girardeau. Schwartz can be reached at (217) 224-7441 or smschwartz1s@semo.edu.

Tiffani Stone of Bell City, Mo., will receive a Bachelor of Science with a major in social work. She grew up in 10 different foster homes during the first 10 years of her life. She said at 13, she was adopted by a wonderful family. She chose social work as her major because of the constant care she received from a social worker in her early years of life. Stone overcame much adversity in her life, including a fire that completely destroyed her home last year. She still managed to make it through college, thanks, in part, to being the first recipient of the first Emma Atkinson Scholarship which is presented to a social work student. Stone can be reached at (573) 733-4218 or thstone1s@semo.edu.

Emily Oliveira of Cape Girardeau will graduate with a Specialist in Education. Oliveira has already received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in marketing, marketing management option, and a master’s degree in community counseling at Southeast. In total, she has completed over 200 credit hours of undergraduate, graduate and specialist credits since 2002. She will be the first in her family to receive a degree past the master’s level. Oliveira can be reached at ekoliveira@semo.edu.