"The Surprise of a Lifetime" 

Mizzou alumnus Ryan Mathewson had always wanted to be an astronaut. After he graduated from MU in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in aerospace engineering, he headed to Huntsville, Alabama, and a full-time job at NASA. Right now he’s working on designing part of the launch-abort system for a new rocket to replace the space shuttles, which flew their final mission in 2011.

Last fall, Mathewson stumbled upon a YouTube channel called “Yes Theory.” The channel is run out of Venice, California, and is led by three friends — Matt, from the U.S.; Ammar, from Egypt; and Thomas, from France.

Their website states their motto simply — “We believe that life can be as fulfilling and authentic as you wish so long as you’re willing to seek discomfort.” The group films videos with strangers, often revolving around once-in-a-lifetime experiences, all of which are outside their comfort zones.

Read more: 
"Turning Tragedy into Advocacy" 

Madeline Churchill knows the statistics about young people and suicide all too well. During her freshman year at Mizzou, she lost her younger brother to suicide.

The Johnston, Iowa, native came to Missouri to study textile and apparel management, eventually switching to a civil engineering major. Her family’s tragedy led her to a new path of involvement — mental health and suicide awareness.“It took me my fall of sophomore year to kind of recover, and then spring of my sophomore year I decided I wouldn’t want anyone else’s family to have to go through what my family went through,” says Churchill, who graduated in May.

She decided to join the Mizzou Student Suicide Prevention Coalition and, in fall 2018, the MU branch of Active Minds, to raise awareness about mental illness.“Our goal is to break down the stigma of mental health and provide students with the resources they would need if they ever need help,” she says.

Read more: https://studentaffairs.missouri.edu/news/turning-tragedy-into-advocacy/
"Floor General"
It’s 4:30 a.m. on a Thursday. While most people are still sleeping, Eric Rodriguez is making the 15-minute drive from his home in Ashland, Missouri, to MizzouRec. He gets to the courts early, practices shooting, then practices with the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team at 5:30 a.m.

Rodriguez discovered the sport in late 2012 while he was recovering from disabling injuries he sustained during a deployment overseas. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 2000 to 2013, completing eight tours, including several in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rodriguez says he originally thought wheelchair basketball was “just handicapped people in chairs kind of pushing hospital chairs, nothing competitive.”After seeing collegiate players at a league camp, his view of the sport changed. He decided to begin competing and, several years later, was recruited by MU Head Coach Ron Lykins. He joined MU’s team in 2017.

Read more: https://studentaffairs.missouri.edu/news/floor-general/
"In Elite Company"

Ron Lykins, head coach of Mizzou’s men’s wheelchair basketball team, a program of MizzouRec, first experienced the sport as part of a community service assignment while attending the University of Kentucky. 

On April 14, Lykins was inducted into the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Hall of Fame.

Lykins grew up playing sports and stuck with that interest in college, earning a bachelor’s in community recreation and a master’s in therapeutic recreation, both from Kentucky.

He first encountered wheelchair basketball while fulfilling a community service requirement for an undergraduate class. 

His mentor and professor at Kentucky was commissioner of the NWBA at the time and Lykins was able to coach the University of Kentucky’s team during his last year of graduate school. He never looked back.

Read more: https://studentaffairs.missouri.edu/news/in-elite-company/

Sarah Sabatke

Sarah Sabatke is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker based in Columbia, Missouri.
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