MU student takes nontraditional path to success

Mary Grace Newman balances her political science studies while devoting her time to the community.

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A normal week for Mary Grace Newman consists of an internship on Tuesdays and Thursdays, working at an on-campus job, coursework and focusing on her love for history, government and education.

Her senior year of high school, Newman decided to put a pause on college. Newman spent the year after high school in New York participating in the AmeriCorps City Year program, in which she was able to help with an education nonprofit.

“Try to be confident in what you’re doing,” Newman said. “Just realize that everything is a learning process. You might feel like you’re supposed to have this huge plan laid out, but it probably won’t exactly happen.”

After spending a year in New York, Newman came back to Missouri, just a little ways from her hometown of Jefferson City, to MU. She began her first year with an undeclared major, but her love for history, education and learning moved her to pursue a degree in political science.

“I liked learning about government and how different institutions of power continue to influence people every day and how there’s so much to it, but you don’t really get to learn about it when you’re in high school,” Newman said. “I really wanted to go more in depth and realize who is propagating all these rules of society and stuff like that.”

While trying to decide on her academics, Newman got involved on campus. Her second year, she was the logistics coordinator of the Women’s Leadership Conference and a teaching assistant for the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

After attending the Women’s Leadership Conference as a freshman, Newman knew she wanted to become more involved with the event as a sophomore.

“I remember walking away feeling empowered and feeling like I knew more about campus, how to become involved, and one of the ways I became involved was being on the exec board … ” Newman said. “I just really enjoyed working with a team of women on campus that were really inspired by the conference and what it could do for campus.”

As a freshman, Newman took the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. This year, she is a teaching assistant who is learning just as much as the students.

“I would say to just have a community of people to be with and maybe learn how to have difficult or mind-boggling conversations when you’re a freshman in college, just making sure that learning is a two-way street,” Newman said. “I may be in a teaching role, but you all are here, and I’m here to learn from you as well.”

She recently found out she was named a part of the Kinder Institute’s 2018-19 Society of Fellows, and she will participate in the Kinder Scholars D.C. Summer Program.

“Since I don’t really know what that dream job is, I’m kind of hoping to take these last one-and-a-half, two years at Mizzou to figure that out a little bit more,” Newman said. “I’m trying to step into more things that deal with my major like the Kinder Institute and stuff like that.”

While balancing all of these things, Newman is also an intern at the state capitol with Rep. Judy Morgan through the Civic Leaders Internship Program.

“[CLIP is] really about, what I’ve learned, is trying to stay involved in your community and learning about issues and how to approach them,” Newman said.

Newman has mastered the art of involvement and pursuing what she is passionate about. She proves that although one may start out unsure, the opportunity to figure out where one really wants to go is achievable. For Newman, that’s pursuing her degree in political science while meeting others, making connections and improving her community along the way.

Edited by Brooke Collier | bcollier@themaneater.com

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