Maria Kemerling began cheering in 2010 – and knew she was going to love being on the sidelines as a Mizzou cheerleader when she first stepped on the University of Missouri campus as a freshman in 2017.
Now, as Kemerling heads toward graduation, she has numerous game-day experiences at Faurot Field and Mizzou Arena under her belt, as well as three trips to the National Cheerleaders Association’s (NCA) national competition. She has learned how to balance a demanding athletic schedule with her schoolwork as a student in animal sciences.
“Mizzou Cheer has been a huge part of my college experience and has definitely established healthy time management skills for me,” Kemerling said. “Being a part of something bigger than myself is so rewarding, and I am so proud to represent the university everywhere I go. I have learned how to manage practice, games, appearances, assignments, exams and classes with the support of my teammates and family.”
Kemerling is from St. Joseph, Mo., and grew up in a family who bled black and gold. Both attending MU and majoring in animal sciences were easy choices for Kemerling.
“I was excited to be a part of the cheer program and I knew my education was guaranteed to be of the highest quality at Mizzou,” Kemerling said. “I decided to major in animal sciences because I knew veterinary medicine was the path I wanted to take. Working with animals is my passion and the Division of Animal Sciences has greatly contributed to it.”
Kemerling said making new friends within the Division of Animal Sciences and all of the opportunities she had through Mizzou Cheer were definite highlights for her as a Tiger. She also had the opportunity to work closely with the faculty in the Division of Animal Sciences, including serving as a teaching assistant for Rodney Geisert, a professor in the division. Her undergraduate advisor was Addison Byrne, an instructor of animal sciences.
“I have nothing but amazing things to say about the animal sciences faculty,” Kemerling said. “Since the first day of class, they have been nothing but supportive and go out of their way to provide for their students, even outside of the classroom. The division is so family-oriented and the faculty create a comfortable learning environment for everyone.”
Kemerling said that faculty and staff support has been a major positive for her as she finishes her degree. Their encouragement made tough days more manageable.
“I tell students to not be afraid to venture out of their comfort zones,” Kemerling said. “That is the only place where you can truly grow. It’s important for students to remember that they are not alone in this journey as well. All of the faculty at Mizzou want you to succeed and live up to your fullest potential. It’s important to believe in yourself, even on the hard days!”
Kemerling said that she is incredibly thankful for her time in CAFNR overall.
“My time in CAFNR has definitely prepared me for my future in many ways,” Kemerling said. “I have received multiple CAFNR scholarships that have eased the financial burden of college for me. I have been presented with various opportunities as an undergraduate that have allowed me to make valuable connections in my network as well.”
Kemerling will head to the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU after she graduates in May, to continue her goal of working with animals full-time in the future.
“I plan to graduate with my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2025, then venture out of Missouri,” Kemerling said. “I hope to one day take my veterinary expertise to underserved communities on mission trips outside of America. I am also interested in teaching at the collegiate level, as my mission trips out of the country would be great opportunities to involve students.”