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University of Missouri

High Hopes in Higher Ed

Why Poonam Sheevam doesn’t take her college education for granted.

2015 Mizzou '39

On Traditions Plaza, Poonam Sheevam, center, is named one of the Mizzou ’39 with Shane Stinson, left, and Brock Scoville. Photo by Rob Hill.

When Poonam Sheevam takes prospective students on tours of campus, her favorite spots aren’t the Columns or Jesse Hall but rather the places where there’s nothing to see. That’s when the health sciences major from St. Louis truly connects with students.

She tells them about the University of Missouri’s first female chancellor, Barbara Uehling, or about her experiences as a first-generation American.

Sheevam’s parents were born in India, and she feels lucky they value her higher education. “A year ago, my dad picked up my grandma from the airport — she had just come back from India — and she was hinting at getting me married off,” says the Alpha Chi Omega member. “If I were born in India, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be in college.”

Each year, the Mizzou Alumni Association recognizes 39 seniors who represent MU’s values through academic achievement, leadership and service. Sheevam is in the 2015 class of Mizzou ’39.

After MU, Sheevam wants to continue studying the social issues that influence women’s health care and hopes to be the first woman in her family to earn a doctorate.