Whitney Blodgett thought her time at Missouri Southern State University was behind her.

Having graduated in December 2019, she was already looking ahead to the fall and a move to Philadelphia, Penn., where she and her husband have both been accepted to Temple University.

But there was one last accolade left for Blodgett – recognition as the Outstanding Graduate for the Fall 2019-Spring 2020 academic year.

Established in 1972, the award is given by the Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the classroom, and significant contributions to the university and/or community. The Alumni Awards committee meets to review all nominations and recommend recipients to the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.

“I felt very honored and humbled to receive this award, and I’m appreciative of all my professors,” Blodgett said.

Having graduated with a degree in biology, she plans to get her master’s degree in applied statistics and biostatistics. But when she began her academic career at Missouri Southern, she wasn’t certain what her major would be.

It was an early biology class that sparked her interest and gave her direction.

“I really liked getting hands-on in the labs and getting to go out into the field,” she said. “Once I found my niche, I could join clubs and meet other people (with similar interests) and connect with my professors.”

Blodgett joined the Biology Club and served as president of the Pollinators Club. She helped create the Citellus Research Council, which works to expand research opportunities for undergraduate students. She also served as a tutor and a member of Student Senate.

Last fall, she and another student received the Cave Young Investigator Prize during the 19th Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists in London. Their collaborative project tackled the issue of erroneous experimental design within the anatomical sciences.

“Upon meeting Whitney, it was immediately apparent to me that she was taking her education very seriously and is going to do great things,” said Dr. David Penning, assistant professor of biology. “She is easily one of the hardest working students I have ever worked with. She is a focused, driven, conscientious and highly intelligent person who continues to meet every day with success.”

Looking ahead, Blodgett plans to get her master’s degree in applied statistics and biostatistics. Beyond that, she hopes to get her Ph.D. in ecology and wildlife, and eventually become a professor.

“It’s been a long ride, but I really enjoyed every single bit of it,” she said of her time at Missouri Southern. “My advice to other students would be to figure out what you love, then go full force into it. Try your best at everything and have no regrets.”