When Melissa Hollingshed was deciding where to attend college, she wanted somewhere that was not too far from her home in Chicago, but far enough to have some independence. Mizzou checked both of her boxes, and Hollingshed came to Columbia to study computer science in the College of Engineering.

“The people at Mizzou really shaped me into becoming a stronger version of myself,” Hollingshed said. “I have made lifelong friends and influential mentors here that I will hold on to forever.”

This is a picture of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with Melissa Hollingshed

One of Melissa Hollingshed's favorite memories at Mizzou was attending the Grace Hopper Celebration, where she got to meet Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Throughout her four years at Mizzou, Hollingshed has established herself as a leader on campus. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Mizzou Computing Association and the Society of Women Engineers. She also serves as the president of MU’s National Society of Black Engineers.

“Mizzou has connected me with a network of outstanding individuals,” Hollingshed said. “The organizations I have been involved with have helped me develop my professionalism and skill sets outside the classroom.”

Last fall, the College of Engineering sponsored Hollingshed and four other students to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston. The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Electrical engineering and computer science professor Kannappan Palaniappan and Tojan Rahhal, assistant dean of inclusive excellence and strategic initiatives, served as faculty advisors.

“We aim to provide our students with experiences and skills at Mizzou so that they can become global leaders in engineering,” Rahhal said. “I have no doubt Melissa’s passion and dedication will take her far, and I look forward to seeing the global engineering leader she is bound to become.”

This is a picture of Melissa Hollingshed with other participants at the Grace Hopper Celebration

Hollingshed and four other students were able to go to Houston to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, as representatives of Mizzou.

At the conference, which had about 20,000 people in attendance, the students enjoyed keynote speakers, a multitude of career development workshops and a career fair. Hollingshed was able to meet Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and network with employees from companies such as Google and SpaceX.

“We learned so much during the conference about new technologies and heard inspirational stories from women in all kinds of different companies,” Hollingshed said. “I am truly thankful for the opportunity made possible by the College of Engineering.”

Currently a senior, Hollingshed serves as a program manager intern at Microsoft and plans to graduate in May.

“Mizzou helped me find who I am and what I am passionate about,” Hollingshed said. “I learned to become comfortable with change, embrace it and use it to my advantage.”