Mizzou ’39 annually recognizes 39 incredible seniors who have excelled academically and gone above and beyond in their service to the University of Missouri. Four Mizzou Engineering seniors were selected for the excellent example of leadership they’ve provided MU in the last four years — Walta Abraham, Nolan Gromacki, Haydn Lock and Brandon Splitter.
Abraham, a Civil and Environmental Engineering senior, has no shortage of service and student organization activities on her Mizzou resumé. She currently serves as president of the Mizzou chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and the NSBE Region 5 regional leadership chair. The Chicago native is a member of Epsilon Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a Civil Engineering undergraduate researcher for the McNair Scholars Program, a College of Engineering Ambassador, a Mystical 7 Secret Honor Society member and served as a Mizzou Alternative Breaks site leader during her time on campus.
“It meant a lot, and it really gave me a chance to really reflect on my time here at Mizzou,” Abraham said of her selection. “I thought back about every single year I’ve been here, reflected on how much I grew the last couple of years, and it allowed me to think how Mizzou has impacted me the last four years. To think that it’s really been a mutually beneficial relationship between me and Mizzou is a really good feeling.”
She said she was thankful to have the means and ability to spend time supporting such tremendous organizations, as well as thankful for the aid of her mentor, Civil Engineering Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Enos Inniss.
“He’s been the one person who I’ve been able to consistently go to ever since I had him for class. … He would allow me to come in and walk through how I was doing once a week or biweekly,” Abraham said. “Just having somebody who’s there to check in on you even though you have other students and are teaching other classes really meant a lot to me.”
Abraham will complete her studies this spring before starting a position with Clayco in its Chicago office this summer.
Not everybody gets to be a part of a no-hitter and earn a major campus honor in the same week. The Mizzou ’39 selection capped off a pretty stellar few days for Gromacki, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering senior and Mizzou baseball relief pitcher, who recorded the last three outs of the 10th no-hitter in program baseball history the Friday prior against Maryland-Baltimore County.
But Gromacki’s collegiate experience is defined by more than his athlete status. He has been tapped into senior honor society QEBH, is president of Mizzou Student Athlete Advisory Committee and serves as athletics liaison for the campus’ It’s On Us campaign, which seeks to inform and educate with the goal of eliminating sexual assault.
“We talk a lot about Mizzou Made over in the athletic department, and my idea of someone Mizzou Made is a well-rounded individual, not just coasting through four years but challenging themselves and improving the lives of others as they’re improving themselves,” he explained.
Given what Mizzou ’39 represents, the Smithville, Mo., native was excited to be selected and to have the opportunity to share the moment with his girlfriend, fellow Mizzou ’39 selection Tori Schafer. He also enjoyed getting to highlight his mentor, Mizzou Engineering adviser Nick Balser.
“He really treated me like family or a good friend, so being able to go into his office and ask for advice is great,” Gromacki explained. “We’ve built that trust, and I know he’s someone here in the engineering department that has my back.”
Gromacki will complete an upcoming co-op and his baseball career before graduating next year.
Lock wanted to fill the time between high school and the start of his career with as much as possible. Between his Civil and Environmental Engineering coursework, serving on the 2017 Mizzou Homecoming Steering Committee, being a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi and Civil Engineering fraternity Chi Epsilon and participating on the steel and timber bridge teams, it’s safe to say he accomplished that goal.
“I really was just trying to do anything and everything. Not really knowing what I was getting into, but I just wanted to get involved,” he said.
“It’s that part between starting college and getting a job that you want to fill in, and I was able to do that with a lot of great organizations.”
Lock, who hails from Jefferson City, was able to do that and succeed with some help from his mentor, Assistant Teaching Professor Ahmed Abu El-Ela.
“From Day 1, he wanted to learn each and every one of our names and wanted to help us no matter what the case was — life, class, career. The door was always open to everybody. … He really goes above and beyond,” he said.
Lock will graduate in May before beginning a job with Brinkmann Constructors in Kansas City.
Splitter initially felt as though his academics would be the key to potentially earning campus-wide recognition. Over time, however, the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science senior realized just how much of an impact his service could have, and it contributed to his selection. Splitter served in MizzouThon Leadership, as a member of the It’s On Us executive board, is a member of the Residential Life Hall of Fame, is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and was a Homecoming top-10 royalty candidate last fall.
“Something that changed for me since I came to Mizzou is I became more service oriented,” the Carthage, Mo., product said. “I became more about my community and the people around me. Being able to be part of Mizzou ’39 has honestly been humbling and a huge honor.”
His service work and his mentor, Associate Law Professor Carli Conklin, also helped him carve out a new career path, one that ties into his love of helping others in need. Splitter will head to law school after earning his degree from Mizzou Engineering.
“Just being able to be a part of something and to change the culture of whatever community might be impacted, I think I’d have a good chance to do that as a lawyer,” he said.