Savannah Gonzales, College of Health Sciences

When she arrived at the University of Missouri for her freshman year, Savannah Gonzales didn’t know anyone, but the Muskego, Wisconsin, native quickly built a community of friends and mentors by getting involved on campus.

Within the MU College of Health Sciences, she gained invaluable clinical experience in the Robert G. Combs Language Preschool serving children with speech and language difficulties.

“When I talk to my classmates in graduate school, I realize that a lot of other universities reserve those type of clinical opportunities for graduate students,” Gonzales said. “I am thankful Mizzou allowed me to gain real-world experience as an undergraduate, which helped me feel more confident and prepared after I left Mizzou.”

In addition to her studies, Gonzales also held leadership positions in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, volunteered with Tiger Pantry and Truman’s Closet, and tutored preschoolers in an after-school program with AmeriCorps through MU’s Jumpstart program. While all of these experiences created cherished memories, Gonzales said her roles as a peer advisor and student ambassador for the College of Health Sciences were the highlight of her time at MU.

“Visiting with prospective students and their families, doing recruitment presentations, helping incoming students register for classes and answering any questions they had really shaped my Mizzou experience,” Gonzales said. “I found such an amazing community at MU, and I wanted to help others find opportunities to form their community while easing their anxieties about being a freshman in college.”

Gonzales is now pursuing a master’s degree in speech language pathology at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro while conducting research on early childhood literacy and language to help bilingual preschoolers. She said the intentionality of the techniques and lessons she learned from her clinical mentor, Christi Baker, an associate clinical professor, and her research mentor, Elizabeth Kelley, an associate professor, are widely applicable in her graduate studies and research.

“Not only did Mizzou help me learn the practical skills of helping kids work on their articulation, grammar and vocabulary, it also helped me learn soft skills like public speaking, organization and time management,” Gonzales said. “All of those skills have made me a better classmate, collaborator and colleague in my post-undergraduate endeavors.”