The Rocky Mountain Tigers alumni chapter is one of the University of Missouri’s largest out-of-state chapters, including more than 600 active alums living throughout Colorado.
It’s a group that helped lead Caitlin Kimes to Mizzou.
“My parents are both graduates of MU, but I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to go that route,” Kimes said. “I knew that Mizzou had a strong alumni network, though, as I attended several Rocky Mountain Tigers events. While I never thought of the university as anything other than the place we would visit every so often to watch football games, I soon realized just how much Mizzou had to offer.”
Kimes, who is from Aurora, Colo., said she worked closely with Kylie Tutko, who serves on the board of directors for the Rocky Mountain Tigers. Tutko’s role within the organization is centered on admissions. Although Kimes had ties to MU – her parents held their wedding reception at the Reynolds Alumni Center, for example – she said Tutko played an important role in showing how a degree from Mizzou would benefit her.
“She answered so many questions and provided me with a ton of information,” Kimes said. “I was the only student from my high school to attend MU, so I had a bit of a different experience. I felt like Mizzou was already becoming my home away from home – and that feeling was confirmed when I arrived on campus.”
A huge fan of science, Kimes had multiple degree programs to choose from when she arrived at MU. She said she took several biology and chemistry classes in high school and thought the biochemistry degree would allow her to combine her interest areas.
“Biochemistry was definitely the most logical choice for me,” Kimes said. “I wanted to find something that would offer me a chance to mesh my scientific interests. I made the correct decision, too. I’ve loved the degree program, and my professors have been fantastic the entire way through.”
While Kimes made numerous connections with her professors through her studies, she also built deeper relationships with them through the peer learning assistant program. Peer learning assistants help students just a couple semesters behind them by offering coursework advice and mentorship. Kimes served in classes taught by Scott Peck, professor, and Antje Heese, associate professor.
“It was so much fun to make connections with students in classes that I had just been a part of,” Kimes said. “We were all going through the same things, although our knowledgeable was a little bit different. I also enjoyed having extra time to interact with my professors.”
Kimes was a member of Kappa Delta while at MU, serving as the vice president for the sorority. She helped with numerous sorority recruitment events throughout her time as a member. Kimes joined the Mizzou Pre-Med Society later on in her college career, too.
“It was important to me to try a lot of different things when I first arrived at MU,” Kimes said. “I attended a ton of meetings my freshman year just to see if I could find that perfect fit. I’m so glad that I did that, too, as it did help me find some organizations where individuals shared similar interests.”
Kimes said that while it took her a bit to find a career interest tied to biochemistry, as she approaches graduation, she is looking at potential jobs in the medical field. She has applied to medical school to continue her education.
“It’s been really exciting looking at everything that is offered within the healthcare field,” Kimes said. “There are so many opportunities out there. I really feel like medicine is a great environment to take the scientific knowledge I’ve learned, and will continue to learn, and share it with others. I want to help others and a lot of that includes education as well.
“It’s really tough waiting to hear about my applications, though. I’m definitely doing my best to be patient.”
Kimes said that while she had some reservations about attending MU originally, she fell in love with not only the campus but the Columbia community in general.
“It’s crazy how fast my time at Mizzou went,” Kimes said. “I’m going to miss everything about the experience. When I first got here, MU felt so big. There were so many buildings and I didn’t know where to go. Now, I walk from one side of campus to the other and it is not daunting at all. Campus got small immediately for me once I started to get involved and explored my interests.”