Spring Commencement Tip Sheet

Spring commencement at Southeast Missouri State University is planned for 2 p.m. May 15 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 either phone numbers or e-mail addresses 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. May 15 in the Student Recreation Center-North.  Please do not hesitate to call the News Bureau at (573) 651-2552 with any questions about these or other commencement stories.

Daniel Connolly of St. Louis, Mo., is an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots.  He played football for Southeast from 2001 to 2004 before being signed into the NFL by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent.  He joined the Patriots in the 2007 season. After a few years he got the opportunity to finish his schooling and will receive a bachelor of general studies degree.  Connolly can be reached at dpconnolly1s@semo.edu.

Trina Pritchett of Marquand, Mo., will be the first member of her family to graduate from a four-year university and will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in biology education.  For eight weeks prior to graduation, she has been student-teaching on a Native American reservation in Oklahoma. Pritchett, who is of Cherokee descent, has been teaching biology, botany and earth science at Sequoia High School on the Cherokee Nation’s tribal land in Tahlequah, Okla. The boarding school is home to students representing 16 tribes of Native Americans. Her student teaching experience with Sequoia High School is part of the Renaissance Partnership Program with Native American Schools run by the University of Northern Iowa. The Renaissance Group is a national consortium of 39 colleges and universities, of which Southeast is a member. The Renaissance Group provides student teaching and practicum programs, which offer extensive field experience in diverse settings. The Renaissance Group has developed a relationship with more than 50 schools throughout the United States that have significant numbers of Native American students. This program is exclusively for Block IV students and provides them with unique opportunities to work with Native American students in the United States. Pritchett can be reached at (573) 783-4781 or tlpritchett1s@semo.edu.

Two sets of sisters will be graduating together at the spring commencement. Elizabeth Zeilenga of Jackson, Mo., and her sister Amber Zeilenga of Millersville, Mo., began their college degrees together and are now graduating together.  Elizabeth will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology, while Amber will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education.  Erin Parks and her sister Sara Parks, both of Farmington, Mo., are first generation college students.  Erin will receive a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and her sister Sara, who received her bachelor of music education degree from Southeast in 2007, will receive her master of arts degree with a major in elementary administration and supervision.  Elizabeth Zeilenga can be reached at (573) 579-9405 or eazeilenga1s@semo.edu.  Amber Zeilenga can be reached at (573) 243-0552 or anzeilenga1s@semo.edu.  Erin Parks can be reached at (573) 756-9602 or ekparks1s@semo.edu, and Sara Parks can be reached at (573) 915-1536 or skparks1s@semo.edu.

Jodi VanGennip of Cape Girardeau, Mo., has been in the National Guard for the past 10 years while working to receive her bachelor of science degree with a major in health management-exercise science.  She completed a one-year tour in Iraq and also spent one month assisting in Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  VanGennip can be reached at (573) 450-8122 or jlvangennip2s@semo.edu.

Melissa McDowell of Sikeston, Mo., was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 8.  She has endured 11 hospitalizations and over one year’s worth of IV antibiotics in her 10-year pursuit of a degree.  She will receive a bachelor of general studies degree.  McDowell can be reached at (573) 380-5208 or mnmcdowell1s@semo.edu.

Kenneth Griffin of St. Louis, Mo., grew up in foster care.  When he began college, he took his two brothers under his wing and cared for them, helping them through high school while working towards his degree at Southeast.  He will receive a bachelor of science in education with a major in social studies education.  Griffin can be reached at kmgriffin2s@semo.edu.

Cathy Berry of Belleville, Ill., will be the fourth generation of her family to receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education.  She is the fourth generation to graduate from Southeast as well.  Berry can be reached at (618) 624-6808 or cmberry2s@semo.edu.

Richard Dowd of Glenallen, Mo., received his GED as well as a full scholarship to Southeast in 2005 after dropping out of school in 1986.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in agribusiness: horticulture.  He said his fours years at Southeast would not have been possible without the support of wife and two children.  Dowd can be reached at (573) 238-1664 or rddowd11s@semo.edu.

Ronald McRaven of Park Hills, Mo., has completed his entire degree online and will receive a bachelor of general studies degree.  McRaven can be reached at (573) 431-8055 or rdmcraven1s@semo.edu.

Katelin Niemczyk of Bell City, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree-secondary education with a major in mathematics education, has history connected to Southeast back to 1912.  Her great-great grandfather worked on the University farm at the time when it was called the  Third District Normal School.  Her parents both graduated from Southeast as well. Niemczyk can be reached at (573) 733-4612 or klniemczyk1s@semo.edu.

Audrey Harwood of Palatine, Ill., is the University’s record holder in the women’s pole vault for the outdoor track and field season with a jump of 11’11”.  She is also the co-record holder for the University’s overall women’s pole vault record which is set at 11’11.75”.  Harwood will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in health management:  health promotions.  She can be reached at (847) 359-0930 or alharwood1s@semo.edu.

Scott Schormann of O’Fallon, Mo., through online opportunities, is completing a bachelor of science in degree with a major in industrial technology, technology option, that he has pursued off and on for 27 years, while still meeting his family and work responsibilities. He can be reached at sdschormann1s@semo.edu or (636) 294-1465.