Story by Erik Potter

Chris Dade smiles at the camera.
Chris Dade. Photo by Mikala Compton

Chris Dade came to Mizzou from the small town of Rogersville, Missouri. He knew he wanted to major in chemistry, but he also had an interest in voter registration and public policy. And student engagement. And the environment. He had no idea how all his interests could fit together, but he hoped one day they would.

As he got involved on campus, he started seeing connections between his interests that he couldn’t see previously.

Through his undergraduate research with Biochemistry Professor Jack Tanner, he learned how to navigate a lab and communicate with scientists.

Through involvement in the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, a student group that advocates for UM System students, he learned how to talk to legislators.

And through Mizzou Alternative Breaks service trips — all centered around environmental service — he learned not so much how to speak but how to listen. Specifically, he learned the importance of understanding a problem by listening to the people affected by it and then supporting them in implementing solutions.

“By going into a community and asking, ‘What can we do for you?,’ you can learn a lot,” Dade says.

Join a Break!
Mizzou Alternative Breaks service trips are an awesome opportunity to serve various communities in need around the country and abroad. There’s no better time than now to apply for an experience with Mizzou Alternative Breaks that can turn into a lifetime of impactful service and friendships. Learn more about how you can serve.

Dade will graduated this May with his chemistry degree. He worked with the MU Fellowships Office to apply for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship and was one of only 12 Americans selected for the 2019 class. He will receive a full-ride scholarship to pursue a one-year master’s degree in science communication at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland.

He then wants to return to the U.S. and earn a doctorate in chemistry and pursue a career in science policy. He has an interest in working for the government as a legislative aide. Or at an advocacy group. Or in academia. He’s not sure how it will come together — yet.

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