Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Program Offers Talented Missouri High School Students New Opportunities at MU

Missouri Scholars Academy Celebrates 25th Anniversary

June 2, 2009

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - In honor of their silver anniversary, members of the Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA) and the University of Missouri will celebrate 25 years of excellence with a look at other 2009 milestones. MSA, which was founded on the belief that one of Missouri's greatest resources is academically talented young people, gives 330 gifted high school students each summer the opportunity of a lifetime. This year, students also will study the contributions of well-known individuals celebrating anniversaries, like Charles Darwin, Barack Obama and even Barbie.

"For the last 25 years we have provided a place for bright and talented students to realize there are others out there like them," said Ted Tarkow, co-director of the program and associate dean of the MU College of Arts and Science. "Sometimes, they feel like outcasts. They feel like it's a liability to be bright and talented. The MSA validates that it's OK to be bright and talented."

Since its establishment in 1985, more than 7,800 Missouri students have participated in the annual program, which provides students unique opportunities to expand their educational and social skills. This year, from June 7 through 27, students will spend the bulk of each day in an intensive classroom setting, studying one of four individually selected subjects, including mathematics, science, social studies and humanities. Each Missouri high school is allowed to nominate one junior-to-be for the academy; larger schools may nominate more.

"I look back on my summer spent with you with the fondest of memories," said Erica Endicott, who attended MSA in 1997. "I think of it as one of the happiest times of my life."

Outside the classroom, students are introduced to a series of activities, workshops and discussions by guest speakers. This year's program focuses around the theme of anniversaries. Students will examine the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Darwin 200 years after their deaths. Participants also will learn about Bonnie and Clyde, who mark their centennial, and will study Barbie on her 50th anniversary from an historic perspective.

MSA participants are among the top 0.5 percent of Missouri students academically. Individuals who attend the academy leave with the understanding that they have a responsibility to share their talents with others for the betterment of their local Missouri communities, Tarkow said. Many MSA alumni participate in programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps or other not-for-profit organizations. MSA alumni also continue to succeed academically. Of those who are old enough, 98 percent of academy alumni have graduated from high school, 90 percent have graduated from college and nearly 2,500 alumni have earned graduate or professional degrees.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and MU sponsor the program with the help of 60 staff, including MU faculty, MSA alumni and community leaders.

- 30 -

EDITOR'S NOTE: A list of students attending the Missouri Scholars Academy is available upon request.