Sierra Nelson came to MU’s Freshmen Summer Welcome knowing she was going to major in biology, but she didn’t have much else pinned down. “I was the most unprepared person in the whole world,” says the freshman from Rockford, Illinois.

She’d heard a presentation about Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs) and liked the idea of living in a learning community with like-minded students. She asked her adviser if there were any spots left in the Biology Intensive Orientation Experience (BIOME), a STEM-focused FIG.

“I just gave away the last spot,” her adviser said. Nelson’s heart sank.

“But —,” her adviser continued. Nelson looked up. Her advisor clicked her mouse a few times, then turned to Nelson and explained that she had just converted an unfilled men’s double-room into a women’s double, and Sierra could have one of the beds.

About an hour later, Lindsi Wilfing had an appointment with the same adviser, who suggested to Wilfing that she consider the BIOME FIG and explained that there was one spot left.

“Yes, sign me up,” Wilfing said enthusiastically.

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Nelson and Wilfing exchanged information and texted each other over the summer before finally meeting on move-in day.

They quickly fell into a routine and found a balance for their personalities. Nelson is outgoing and expressive — she won election to hall president and secretary (she chose president) for Gateway Hall. Wilfing, from St. Charles, Missouri, is friendly and caring. If Sierra is out, Lindsay will text her to warn about approaching storms so she can get home safely.

Both students are committed to their studies and to cleanliness, but they’re flexible about most other things. It’s a recipe they both swear by.

“If you have kindness at the base of your relationship, you should be fine,” Sierra says. “We have a really good thing going. I love it.”

Both students have built separate but often overlapping friend groups through their FIG, classes and extracurricular activities, which has made a big campus feel small. They use words like “community” and “family” to describe their Mizzou experience so far.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Sierra says.

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