Right at Home at Mizzou

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Lara Stefani, Mizzou Academy Alumna, Continues her Undergraduate Studies at Mizzou

Lara Stefani, Mizzou Academy Alumna

Although she is 5,000+ miles from home, Lara Stefani is no stranger to Mizzou, since she graduated from the University of Missouri High School in December 2021. As a high school student, Lara earned two high school diplomas before enrolling as a first year biochemistry major at Mizzou. The Dual Diploma Program at Mizzou Academy enables international students to earn both a diploma from their home country and a U.S. diploma. In Lara’s case, this meant a high school diploma from the University of Missouri High School and a high school diploma from Colégio Dante in São Paulo, SP. 

One of the Mizzou teachers who made a significant impact on Lara was Ms. Nancy Stoker. When Lara was a Mizzou Academy student, Ms. Stoker encouraged Lara’s creative writing, and the two had exchanged messages about Lara’s creative stories and narratives. When Lara arrived on campus, she couldn’t wait to meet Ms. Stoker in person. 

Recently, Lara connected with Ms. Stoker and Mizzou Academy’s Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Fishman-Weaver at Shakespeare’s Pizza. Within moments, the group was deeply engaged in a discussion about a new science fiction story Lara is authoring. 

Lara shares that the Mizzou Academy program prepared her well for her collegiate studies. “Studying with the Mizzou Academy program enabled me to become a better writer, reader, speaker of English, but also a better person, as I was able to study topics such as health, U.S. history, and economics that gave me more knowledge about the world I live in. Also, I had the opportunity to explore aspects of my life I didn’t know about, such as my passion for creative writing, that now has an important role in my personal life.” Creative writing has remained an important outlet for Lara, a reprieve from the rigorous STEM work, which she also loves. 

As a first year college student, Lara has jumped right into academics and activities on campus. In addition to biochemistry, Lara is also considering minoring in plant science and French. Lara currently works in a research lab at the Bond Life Sciences Center under the mentorship of Dr. Lloyd Sumner.  

Dr. Fishman-Weaver asked Lara what she enjoys about studying at Mizzou. Smiling, Lara shared, “Being at Mizzou allows me to explore my interests with many opportunities such as internships, seminars, and academic programs related to my area of study. They enrich my experience, as well as give me motivation to keep looking out for more. Also, there are so many clubs to explore and many new people to meet, which is incredible as an international student. Last but not least, connecting with people that were very meaningful to me while studying with Mizzou Academy and receiving your support make all the difference.” 

During her application process, Lara got to know Ryan Griffin, the director of international admissions for Mizzou. Both Mr. Griffin and Dr. Fishman-Weaver have visited Lara’s home school Colégio Dante in São Paulo, SP. 

According to the Office of International Admissions, “Last year, students from more than 110 countries came to study at Mizzou, as did nearly 600 international scholars who worked as educators and researchers.”  

Just like her high school studies through Mizzou Academy, Lara appreciates continuing to be part of a global learning community. She noted that there were a number of international students in her dorm and that she’s become close to a few new friends from Korea who are also studying science. 

Lara shared that there is so much to appreciate about Mizzou, including the beautiful campus. As a plant science scholar, Lara was excited to learn that Mizzou Academy is classified as a botanical garden. Every morning, she calls her parents at home in São Paulo, and lately she’s been video chatting to show them the stunning fall colors across the quad. 

As Lara and Dr. Fishman-Weaver walked back through campus together talking about autumn and home, Dr. Fishman-Weaver shared with Lara that as a Mizzou scholar, Mizzou would always be her home, too.

Photo by Cathy Rose, CEHD Strategic Communications Team