Michelle Dimza of St. Louis, was named 2012 “Outstanding Graduate” by the MSSU Alumni Association.
Michelle graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She is the daughter of Mike and Mary Dimza of St. Louis. She is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in St. Louis. She graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). and she was named to the MSSU Deans’ List all eight semesters of college. She served as a biology tutor for the three years, providing individualized learning for students in courses such as general and medical micro biology, anatomy and physiology, general biology, principles of biology, computer literacy courses and EMT certification courses. She served as a tutor at the Exam Cram session each semester, as a biology tutor for Project Stay and as a peer mentor for the MSSU First-Year Experience.
She was a team captain on the Missouri Southern women’s soccer team for three seasons. She was a four-year letter winner, as well as a four-year starter. She is a three-time All-MIAA selection and won the 2010 MSSU Leadership Award. She also was an MIAA Presidential Scholar, a three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, as well as a three-time MIAA Scholar-Athlete
In 2011, she served as a research intern at the University of Minnesota Life Science Undergraduate Research Program. In that capacity, she performed a compositional analysis of heat resistant salmonella using surface enhanced raman spectroscopy (SERS). She also presented an independent research project at the University of Minnesota Poster Symposium and participated in weekly career development luncheons, bioethical seminars and Women in Science panel discussions.
After graduation, Michelle will play soccer for a Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL) team in Seattle, Wash while studying for the Medical College Admission test (MCAT). Her career goal is to become a physician in a field in which she can incorporate medical research.
Caitlan (Bermel) Smith. '12, who came to MSSU because of its international mission, is the 2012 Outstanding Graduate in International Studies. She received a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in Latin American Studies in December 2011. Caitlan, a 2007 graduate of Lee’s Summit North High School, selected MSSU over Drake University. She was accepted into MSSU’s Honors Program and graduated with a 3.65 GPA.
She had several international experiences while attending MSSU. She and her husband, Luke, '11, English, whom she married in July 2009, received a $4,900 grant from the McCaleb Initiative for Peace in 2011. They traveled to Guatemala in June for an in-depth examination of the many problems surrounding education in that country and produced a supplement to The Chart published on Nov. 4, 2011.
The Smiths also spent the Fall 2010 semester at the American University in Bulgaria through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). Caitlan’s first study abroad experience came in the summer of 2008, when she completed Dr. Dorothy Bay’s General Biology course in Costa Rica. Caitlan distinguished herself on campus through her participation in the Model United Nations Club. “She became increasingly accomplished as a Model UN delegate over her four years of participation, finally being asked by Paul [Teverow] and me to head our delegation to Chicago last fall, when we represented Rwanda,” said Dr. William Kumbier, club co-sponsor.
Caitlan and Luke have been accepted into the Peace Corps. They will serve in West Africa on a 27-month commitment to teach English.