When Faith Scheidemantle gave her acceptance speech after being named 2018’s Outstanding Graduate, she had a group of people to which her remarks were dedicated.

“It was dedicated to my friends … people who were always there to reassure me that I was going to make it,” she says. “They were there when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore to tell me, ‘You’ve got this; it’s fine.’”

But it was one person in particular this message applied to – her sister, Grace.

“She’s always been there for me,” Faith says.

Though two years apart in age – Faith is 20, while Grace is 22 – the sisters from Camdenton, Mo., will graduate together from Missouri Southern during commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 12.

Grace, a biochemistry major, says she chose to attend MSSU based on the science and Honors programs.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming in, but I absolutely loved it,” she says. “It’s the perfected-sized school, the faculty are wonderful and the one-on-one attention is something I’ve really benefitted from.”

Being away from her younger sister – with whom she’s always been very close – felt strange, she says.

“We played traveling soccer together since we were 3 or 4,” says Grace. “It had always been just the two of us. I talked about her so often to my group of friends that when she came to Missouri Southern, it was like she had always been here.”

Though Faith eventually followed her sister to Missouri Southern with the idea of studying elementary education, she says she found her “home away from home” in the English Department.

“I’ve made a ton of friends there,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

She majored in English with a focus on professional and technical writing. While she maintained a significant course load from start to finish, it wasn’t her original plan to graduate in just three years.

“I was crazy and took 18 credit-hours every semester,” Faith says with a laugh. “I wasn’t focused on graduating early, but my advisor told me I could if I wanted to. Since I’m going on to grad school, there was no reason to postpone it.”

Their paths as Lions shared many of the same paw prints. They served as Lion Ambassadors, attended Campus Activities Board events and were each inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

They also both completed their courses of study through the university’s Honors Program.

“Faith and Grace Scheidemantle were a constant presence in the Honors Program, whether participating in the Honors Student Organization, contributing to class discussions or sharing their research with the campus community,” says Dr. Michael Howarth, director of the Honors Program. “They’re always friendly and supportive of others and always engaged in MSSU activities. They embody the curiosity, dedication, and limitless possibilities that define an Honors student.”

Even when apart, their activities and interests haven’t diverged much over the last few years.

Grace serves as president of the Chemistry Club, while Faith is the former president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honors society. Each took advantage of opportunities to study abroad while at MSSU. Grace spent a semester in England studying at the University of Bradford. Faith visited England last year during a trip offered by the English Department and this spring traveled to Paris as part of the International Media Seminar.

Following nominations from departments across campus and a selection process by the Alumni Board of Directors, Faith was named 2018’s Outstanding Graduate. It’s an honor she doesn’t take lightly.

“It was very amazing to be recognized … I wasn’t expecting it,” she says. “There are so many great graduates in the Honors Program alone. But I did so much in the last three years that it’s nice to be acknowledged for the hard work.”

Because the sisters live together and have helped each other along the way, Grace jokes that she has a stake in the award as well.

“I feel like we shared it,” she says.

With graduation behind them, the Scheidemantle sisters will soon be going their separate ways to continue their studies.

Faith will be attending the University of Kansas to join a five-year track for composition and rhetoric and get her Ph.D. Grace will attend North Carolina State University to focus on molecular and structural biochemistry.

Each says the other was her biggest supporter during their time at Missouri Southern.

“There were so many times where one of us wanted to give up in different classes,” says Grace. “We always encouraged each other. And the biggest difference between friends and a sister is she knows what I’m thinking at all times.”

Faith agrees: “She’s my sister, but also my best friend.”