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University of Missouri

Recent Graduate Pays it Forward

Recent graduate wins Mizzou Alumni Association award.

Elizabeth Gaines

Elizabeth Gaines leads scholarship efforts at the St. Louis chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

When Elizabeth Gaines arrived at Mizzou as a freshman, she felt like a face in the crowd. She hailed from a St. Louis public school that rarely sent students to Mizzou. “When I said I was from the actual city of St. Louis, people thought I lived under the Arch,” she jokes. Gaines, recent winner of a Mizzou Alumni Association G.O.L.D. (Graduates of the Last Decade) award, was the first in her working-class family to graduate from a four-year college.

Sending Gaines, BFA ’07, to college was a priority for her family, which worked hard to help her financially. She also received grants, student loans, work-study and scholarships.

Gaines, now Zimride account development supervisor at Enterprise Holdings, laughs at how green she was back then. “When I went home over winter break after my first semester, a letter came. I told my parents I was sure it would say I was on the dean’s list,” Gaines says. “It turned out I was on academic probation. That experience humbled me, but I worked hard to overcome my challenges and was blessed to have had guidance from my family and some outstanding faculty members.”

In 2011, the St. Louis resident became involved in the St. Louis alumni chapter when she volunteered at its annual trivia night, a fundraiser for scholarships. In 2012, she joined the chapter’s board as its scholarship chair, where she led its program that gives scholarships to local high school students. “The Mizzou experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I want to help others have it, too.”

Gaines solicited scholarship applications from underrepresented schools in St. Louis and Illinois, and she reports students from those areas now attend MU with the help of association scholarships. Under her supervision, the chapter has awarded $97,000 in scholarships to 37 students.

Gaines received her G.O.L.D. award Sept. 12, 2014, in the Reynolds Alumni Center during the association’s Leaders Weekend. The other G.O.L.D. winner was Bill Richmond, BA ’06, of Dallas, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth alumni chapter. That day, the association also gave Tiger Pride awards for sustained, outstanding volunteer efforts to Deborah Jones, BA ’74, of Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City alumni chapter and Chad Bozarth, BJ ’95, of Duluth, Georgia, Mizzou Atlanta chapter.