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Mizzou ’39 makes Sharp selection from engineering

Zach Sharp headshot.

Mizzou ’39 honors 39 of the University of Missouri’s best, brightest and most active seniors. Receiving that recognition in front of friends and family was quite the thrill for mechanical engineering senior Zach Sharp. Photo courtesy of MU Alumni Association.

Mizzou ’39 honors 39 of the University of Missouri’s best, brightest and most active seniors. Receiving that recognition in front of friends and family was quite the thrill for mechanical engineering senior Zach Sharp.

Sharp, an Independence, Mo., native, was one of the 39 individuals honored “for their achievement, leadership and service to Mizzou and the community” on Feb. 29 at Traditions Plaza. He said participating in the annual candle-lit unveiling with friends and family in the audience was a surreal experience.

“I wanted them to know I appreciated all the support they’d given me,” Sharp said. “As we were walking up the ramp, we could actually see over the wall there and we could see our friends already. And they were scattered around from all the walks of life you have here on campus.”

Student organization participation is nothing new to Sharp. During his time at MU, he’s been involved with several organizations: Summer Welcome, Engineering Ambassadors, Omicron Delta Kappa, Engineering Summer Camps, Study Abroad, Mizzou Alternative Breaks, Engineering Student Council, Stripes, the College of Engineering inclusivity board and Pi Tau Sigma.

Diving headfirst into a variety of clubs and student groups wasn’t necessarily Sharp’s first instinct. But he said he’s glad to have taken the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone, believing it’s prepared him well for the future.

“I became a lot more comfortable and I had an aptitude for talking to people,” Sharp said. “The fact that I got involved my junior year … you’re going to miss all the opportunities you don’t even try for.

“I try to have a diverse set of areas on campus that I’ve been involved in, because that might be the only opportunity you have to meet someone who’s not in your major.”

Each Mizzou ’39 selection chooses a staff or faculty member to recognize for the role they played in the student’s life on campus. Sharp chose Darius Whitaker, the College of Engineering’s recruitment and diversity coordinator, whom he got to know through his involvement as a member and later president of Engineering Ambassadors.

“One of the first organizations I got involved with was Engineering Ambassadors, and he gave me a chance to thrive and get a chance to see what I’m best at,” Sharp said. “We became friends moreso than colleagues. I still go talk to him all the time.”

As graduation nears, Sharp said being selected to Mizzou ’39 is a culmination of a journey started as a freshman, seeing how his former peer adviser, Will Thompson, affected MU during his time there, earning his own selection to Mizzou ’39 in 2014.

“I never thought that I would do anything to deserve recognition. It’s nice to be honored in that sense,” he said.

“To see him get Mizzou ’39, I said to myself, ‘I want that to be me.’ I want to do something on this campus to impact people’s lives to the degree that it gets recognized.”