When you take the opportunity to open a door and step through it, you never know where it might lead you next, says Nathan Piccoli.
The Missouri Southern senior from Osceola, Mo., has been named the 2021 Outstanding Graduate by the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors at Missouri Southern State University. He is graduating from the university with a double major in biology and biochemistry – both with a pre-med emphasis.
“Since I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” says Piccoli. “I toured three or four different schools, but all of them emphasized things that weren’t necessarily related to academics.
“During my visit to Missouri Southern, the first thing that turned me on to it was the emphasis on academics. The small class sizes and the ability for one-on-one interaction with the faculty sealed the deal for me.”
While taking Biology 110 with Dr. David Penning, Piccoli says he took advantage of the opportunity to do research in the campus reptile lab. From there, he discovered other doors that led to new experiences.
A member of the Honors program, he participated in the Wildlife Society (where he served as president), the Caduceus Club and the Lion Ambassadors. He has published portions of his research work in two abstracts, served as a peer-reviewer for six different journal submissions and received awards at the 2018 Kansas Herpetological Society’s annual meeting and the 2019 research symposium at MSSU.
He has also volunteered with the Joplin Humane Society, Martin Luther School and George Washington Carver National Park.
“Nathan is quite simply the most cumulatively dominant student I have ever worked with across multiple universities,” says Penning. “He has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and, in my opinion, outperformed all others in his devotion and efforts in scholarly activity, campus activities, leadership and mentorship.”
Asked for his advice to students just getting ready to begin their college experience, Piccoli says there’s nothing more beneficial than taking advantage of the wealth of opportunities available.
“Getting involved on campus is one of the most important things you can do,” he says. “It has been great for me, but it’s also a way for me to give back to the school that’s given me all of these opportunities.”
Piccoli has been accepted into the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith, Ark., where he will begin classes in July.
“Right now, my plan is to be an orthopedic surgeon,” he says. “But I’ve talked to students who have been to med school and say that your perspective changes. I’m open to anything that catches my eye.”