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Pursuit of Excellence banquet celebrates success, inclusivity

A group of well-dressed women with awards.

Dean Loboa (far right) joined the winners of the 1907 Women in Engineering Awards, given at Thursday’s second-annual Pursuit of Excellence Banquet.

The Mizzou Engineering Office of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives and the MU Center for Academic Excellence and Success hosted the second-annual Pursuit of Excellence Banquet on Thursday in Columbia.

The banquet celebrates outstanding students, faculty and staff from Mizzou Engineering who are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in engineering and those who work to support their efforts. A variety of awards were given to celebrate these successes.

Speakers included Dean Elizabeth Loboa and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Success Donell Young. The keynote was given by 1907 Women in Engineering Alumnae Award Winner Kate Nolan, a 2013 chemical engineering graduate and materials and process engineer at Boeing in St. Louis.

Nolan discussed the importance of the various organizations she was a part of during her MU career, including the Society of Women Engineers, and shared personal anecdotes about her journey as a woman in engineering.

“It is important to have someone you can look up to in your career – a mentor you can learn from,” Nolan said. “We need someone who we can walk and partner with, who supports us and knows what we are going through, because they are in that stage of life as well. And in order to grow future generations, we need to engage with someone who we can reach back to, mentor, encourage, and bring along with us.

“I encourage you to think about who these people are in your life and career. Perhaps you haven’t met them yet. But my wish for you is that you make a personal commitment to making engineering a more diverse and inclusive place.”

Both Loboa and Young spoke about the importance of inclusivity to both the engineering field and higher education.

“Freshmen, I ask that you look around the room at the seniors who are coming to the end of their undergraduate journey. The seniors in this room are some of the best Mizzou Engineering has to offer. They rose to meet their potential and have thrived in their time here,” Loboa said.

“Profit from their example. See their journeys and their successes and understand that you can do the same. Your education and collegiate experience are what you make it. Do not shrink from the challenge. Instead, rise to the occasion. Take full advantage of every opportunity we have to offer and succeed without apology.”

The evening’s award winners were:

  • 1907 Women in Engineering Alumnae Award: Kate Nolan
  • 1907 Women in Engineering Faculty Award: Suchi Rajendran, Fang Wang
  • 1907 Women in Engineering Student Award: Sammy Warren, Noor Al-Shakarji, Amber Peterein, Rumana Aktar, Samaikya Valluripally, Kristen Howorka, Qiwen Guo, Samira Shamsir
  • Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Senior Faculty Award: Patrick Pinhero
  • Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Junior Faculty Award: Christine Costello
  • Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Staff Award: Nicole Fickel
  • Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Student Award: Keisha Avery
  • Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Undergraduate Student Award: Austin Kimes
  • Minority Engineering Program Success Award: Reimon Brown, Jeff Cathey, Laura Wiseman
  • Diversity Global Advantage Scholarship Scholars: InHan Kim, Alex Baumann
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