Mizzou Biology Celebrates National First Generation Week

David Schulz remembers how he felt as the first person in his family to head off to college.  

“I can easily recall those first uneasy steps, but also the determination I felt to repay those who had invested so much in me,” he says.   

Now as a professor and the Director of the Division of Biological Sciences, Schulz appreciates the opportunity he has to teach and mentor other first-generation college students.  

“I’m struck by how many first-gen students aspire to careers that allow them to give back to their communities, as well as the courage and resiliency it takes in particular at this time to make such an impact,” he says. 

Today, Mizzou kicks off First-Generation College Celebration Week. The events and activities hosted this week aim to recognize the unique experiences and challenges that shape how first-generation students navigate college as well as to celebrate their journeys. Below we highlight a couple Mizzou Biology students who are the first to blaze this path for their families.  

Jasmine Chen

Jasmine Chen is a first-year Biological Sciences major with plans to add Psychological Sciences as a second major.

The St. Louis native came to Mizzou excited to learn more about neurobiology. She’s exploring career interests related to neurobiology, including psychiatry and psychology, with the specific goal of helping people. Jasmine has only been at Mizzou a short time, having just started this fall semester, but she’s already settling in well and excelling in her classes. She says one of her favorite things about Mizzou so far has been her abnormal psychology class. She looks forward to meeting more people with similar academic interests as her.  

Juan Gonzalez

Juan Gonzalez is a junior double majoring in Biological Sciences and Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

The native of St. Charles, Missouri, has made the most of his time at Mizzou and has more plans in motion for his future. Juan says that one of his favorite experiences at Mizzou has been his involvement with the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC)/Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) Program. This program has exposed him to many career paths and opportunities and also helped him find his current undergraduate research experience, working in Dr. Martinez-Lemus’ lab focused on cardiovascular complications in type 2 diabetes. Global Brigades has been another valuable experience. Juan volunteered with other Mizzou students in Honduras to help local doctors in rural communities serve their patients. In just his third year, Juan has already made so many connections at Mizzou and built a strong academic career.

Going forward, Juan looks forward to continuing to work in his research lab and presenting his research projects at conferences as well as taking higher level biology and nutrition courses.