Story by Marianna Moore
After meeting with the chancellor and other administrators in the premium loge box, Julia Wopata makes her way to the student section during football games.
“My favorite thing about Mizzou football games is the student section,” Wopata says. “I will go as quickly as I can to the student section because it’s just so fun.”
As president of the Missouri Students Association (MSA), Wopata has the privilege of watching football games from her box seat, but she’d much rather be surrounded by her fellow peers.
Her favorite part about being MSA president is hearing students talk about organizations that they would like to be a part of. Wopata has the ability to help students do exactly that.
“That’s the most rewarding part of the job,” Wopata says. “Just being able to interconnect students — it’s really rewarding seeing campus become closer.”
Wopata never expected to become MSA president. She was just a regular student trying to decide what she wanted to do with her life. As an incoming freshman, Wopata had changed her major a number of times.
“Coming onto campus as a freshman, I had a lot of fear and insecurity,” Woptata says. “I think that’s a normal feeling as a freshman.”
Wopata eventually began to get more involved on campus. She was on the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority executive team and held other small leadership positions on campus. These leadership positions helped jumpstart her journey to becoming MSA president.
“Little pieces of leadership and getting to meet other students on campus — I really got a passion for people but mostly for the university as a whole,” Wopata says.
This also helped Wopata figure out an academic path. She was a food science major but had decided to take a computer science class and liked it. Wopata knew that she would need a good internship if she ever wanted to work in computer science. She began the application process and received an internship with the Google Engineering Practicum Program in California.
“When I applied for the program I had only completed one computer science class and done an internship at an ice cream shop in Kansas City,” Wopata says. “I wasn’t really qualified when they took me on.”
After her sophomore year, Wopata was invited to return as an engineering intern with Google. Later, the company offered her a full-time job as a software engineer after she graduates this May with her computer science degree from the College of Engineering.
“It was awesome that the company recognized that our university has an exceptional computer science program and that it can produce students who are ready and equipped for the workforce,” Wopata says.
Coming out of high school, the only university Wopata applied to was Mizzou. She doesn’t regret it.
“Mizzou has been the perfect spot for me because it has afforded me the opportunity to be challenged and be surrounded by people who are not from where I’m from,” Wopata says. “The things that I’m going to look back on from Mizzou are the people that inspired me along the way.”
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