Missouri State University
Family Connection

Kaitlyn Says…Be a #TraditionsBEARer

Throughout the years, the list of traditions and “must dos” before students graduate has grown with each graduating class. While this list may be daunting at first glance, the Traditions Bearer app makes the task of experiencing all that Missouri State has to offer easy.  img_3074

The Traditions Bearer app allows students to keep track of the traditions they have completed by uploading pictures and keeping a digital scrap book of their journey at Missouri State. The app also gives the history behind each tradition and rumor has it, students may even get rewards for completing traditions! How fun is that?!

So this Family Weekend, encourage your student to download the Traditions Bearer app (free to download) and help them make memories by completing some Missouri State traditions!


Kaitlyn Ramage is a senior majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology: Pre-Med. She is a member of the Honors College, a social sorority and is a Student Orientation Assistant for SOAR 2017. She has also been involved with the Homecoming Committee, a SOAR leader for two years, Phi Sigma Upsilon, Phi Eta Sigma, Rho Lambda, Distinction of Public Affairs and Golden Key.

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What’s Happening at Missouri State? Important Dates & Reminders

It’s hard to believe how fast this semester is going. It seems like the first day of classes was just yesterday. There is a lot going on in the next six weeks or so. bearup-bear

Here are some important dates to remind your student about:

SOAR Leader Informational Meeting – October 26 – 1pm – Mary Jean Price Walls Multicultural Resource Center Annex
Residence Assistance Applications Due – October 31 – Find the application here.
Emerging Leader Application Opens – October 31 – Find the application here.
General Scholarship Application Opens – November 1st – Find the application here.
Public Affairs Convocation – November 1st – Find out more here.  The public is invited to attend. Free event
Real L.I.F.E. & the Student Activities Council presents “How would you like to win $1,300,00 in Scholarships” – November 8 – Find out more here. Free event.
SOAR Leader Application Due – November 9th – Find the application here.
Thanksgiving Break – November 19th – November 27th
Study Day – December 9th
Final Exams – December 10th – December 15th
Fall Commencement – December 16h
First Day of Spring Classes – January 17, 2017


October 1, 2016 – FAFSA application opened. Missouri State priority date to turn in the FAFSA is February 1, 2017. Find out more here.
October 3, 2016 – Housing application opened. Find out more here.


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Meeting First-Generation Student Needs through MSU: I’m First— Strategies for Student Success

College offers a chance to explore new ideas and to grow through new experiences. Ultimately, college is as much a journey of discovery as it is an opportunity to gain valuable career skills.  First- generation college students have decided to take a chance on something new and challenging.  And they bring a multitude of gifts and valuable life experiences with them, along with a measure of determination, resolve and faith in a brighter future.   4b62dcc1-5b5f-4b1b-84d0-5e999dd049ffa5cceafc-c2bc-4cf1-8635-d58ff4453bd4

First-generation students, who are experiencing the unknown culture of college, may be referred to as transition communities.  Effective transition communities enable students to share basic information that they need to prosper, to solve problems together, and to learn how to navigate college’s unfamiliar culture.

At Missouri State University a new student organization, MSU: I’m First, serves as an already-formed transition community for our first-generation students.  MSU: I’m First was created to provide the resources and support that first-generation students at Missouri State – nearly seven thousand of them! – need to succeed through graduation.

Two sophomore communication students, Marli Coonrod and Shelby Morrison (the current I’m First President), co-founded MSU: I’m First last year, shortly after they served together as student members on a panel discussion following the film, First Generation by Adam Fenderson.  Inspired by this experience, they took the chance to exercise leadership and to act upon their desire to help other first-generation students face the unknown collegiate culture together.

Since I’m First formed in 2015, the organization has hosted workshops on FAFSA preparation, financial literacy, and scholarship application at Missouri State.  I’m First sponsored a panel discussion to help students talk about their college experience (and what it means to them) with family and friends.  And the organization took the opportunity to just enjoy being with each other at a Missouri State baseball game last spring.  Twenty staff and faculty members serve as mentors for I’m First’s 65 members, providing an invaluable resource to help first-gen students succeed at Missouri State.

This fall, I’m First will again host Scholarship Application workshops on November 10th and 15th, a finals study hall for members on December 11th, and a fun night at Missouri State’s Game Center on November 3rd.   To learn more about MSU: I’m First or to join, visit MSU’s Campus Link at: https://missouristate.collegiatelink.net/organization/Imfirst.

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Get the Most out of MoState!

Moving away to college can be tough. I mean c’mon, you are leaving the comfort of your hometown surrounded by your family and friends and moving to a different city with so many unknowns. Who will your new friends become? How challenging will your classes be? Will people accept you? Is college even for you? All of these questions ran through my head in what seemed like a never ending nightmare. I soon realized that this “imaginary nightmare” would turn into a dream-come-true the moment I stepped foot onto Missouri State University just four short years ago.  14100253_10208880456780970_8761077749337747159_n

Over the last four years I have learned so much about myself, who I am and who I want to become, the possibilities and realities of the world I will soon be entering (the second part of the nightmare). I also realized the passion, motivation, and experiences that I have been equipped with all because of attending Missouri State University. I hope to share a couple of ways that I believe you can “Get The Most Out of MoState”. After all, you just have to know how to B.E.A.R.U.P!

Be confident

Nobody knows yourself better than you. Embrace who you are and stand confident in that. Understand your skills and abilities and put those to use while at Missouri State. Expand on what you already know and have a hunger to learn more. Be true to yourself and take chances. Don’t be afraid to fail or ask for help because you are surrounded by resources. Seek opportunities that you wouldn’t expect to seek and let your true colors shine brightly. Be excited and feel valued because you are! You are part of an incredible community that needs you to be YOU.

Embrace your education

Going to class is the easy part (so make sure you do that) but having a passion for what you are learning can be challenging earlier on. Seek opportunities to apply what you are learning to keep the content relevant and exciting. Make a couple of friends in class to study with and to hold you accountable for your course work. Find connections between your classes and chat with your professors about the bigger picture and post-graduation opportunities. Taking the opportunity to embrace your education and to really piece it all together will make it fun to learn, not just a requirement to pass a course.

Accept Differences

Your college experience is such a great time to meet people that are different than you, have different experiences from you, and that have different beliefs than you do.Take advantage of being in such a diverse community and initiate those tough conversations. Take time to listen to people share their stories, their heritage, their beliefs, and who they really are. Seek to better understand those things and be vulnerable with others about who you are. Encourage them and build them up and really strive to understand differences instead of using differences as a destruction tool.

Realize your potential

You are the next best ____________. The cool thing about Missouri State is that you get to fill in that blank. You have the opportunity to reach your goals and to live your dream(s). If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? Set the bar high, dream big, and then work to accomplish it. Once you understand your potential you are unstoppable.

Utilize your resources.

The opportunities are limitless at Missouri State! Start looking for these opportunities now, don’t wait. Get involved in a fraternity or sorority, campus ministry, community service organization, academic organization, or some of the other nearly 400 student organizations on campus. Getting involved in one organization will lead to meeting new people, learning about the organizations they are involved in, and ultimately getting yourself even more involved on campus. Though a lot of opportunities are related to organizational involvement, there are so many beyond organizations. Visit the Career Center and learn more about internships and the job hunt. Getting involved will unlock opportunities during your time at Missouri State and far beyond.

Pause and enjoy the moment

College goes by quick, believe me. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to decide how I would decorate my room in Blair-Shannon House. Amongst going to class, getting involved in organizations, volunteering, working, and the many other things college students experience, it can be hard to find time to “pause”. It’s important to think about who you are and to reflect upon your college experience in the moment. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. At the same time, don’t get so involved that you don’t have time to enjoy those little moments in life. Take a break and grab a donut from Hurts or play some mini-golf at Fun Acres. Do the things that make you happy and allow you to refuel.

As I begin thinking about graduation and what comes next in life, I am forever grateful of the home that Missouri State has created for me. The relationships I have built with faculty, staff, mentors and mentees, fraternity brothers, peers, administration, and so many others, have allowed me to achieve so many personal and professional goals. I’m confident that you will do the same. Then again, you just gotta #BearUp!

Blake Shepheard is a senior majoring in Public Relations. He is a marketing and community engagement intern for LeaderShape and is heavily involved on campus as a building manager in Plaster Student Union, a member of a social fraternity, and the VP of Membership Development for the Interfraternity Council. Read more from Blake at www.thoughtsfromBS.wordpress.com.

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Spotlight on Traveling Bears – Engaging Commuter Students! A Conversation with McKinsey Wiltermuth

Meet McKinsey Wiltermuth, a senior criminology major here at Missouri State.  McKinsey is involved with a variety of different organizations on campus. Some of those include being the Director of Student Affairs Engagement on Student Government Association, being Ritual Chairman in her sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha, working in the Center for Community Engagement with Green Dot and Escalation and sitting on the PSU Advisory Board.   travelingbearsWe had a conversation with McKinsey about her involvement with the SGA and the program Traveling Bears.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Student Government Association?  I got involved with SGA through my sorority. We needed two members to serve as representatives in senate and I volunteered to do it for one semester. After going to Senate and hearing all of the amazing things that STUDENTS were getting to accomplish on this campus I knew I wanted to continue to be involved with SGA. As time passed I was able to see how much of an impact SGA really has on this campus and that’s why I decided to run for a cabinet position.

As the Director of Student Affairs Engagement I have a variety of different opportunities as far as what I can work on. Some of my major resources are Dining Services, the Plaster Student Union, and currently working to get commuter students more involved and engaged on campus.

What is Traveling Bears?  Traveling Bears is a program aimed at helping commuter students feel welcome on campus and provides them with resources to get involved. Some of the main goals for this last semester were aimed at getting students in the dining halls, PSU and bookstore. We stationed volunteers at Bear Park South on the first two days of the semester from 8am to noon with giveaways and a friendly face. We provided students with “buy-one-get-one” free coupons for the dining halls so they could bring a friend. As a commuter student myself, I never used the dining halls or felt like they were for me, so it was important to encourage commuter students to use this amenity.  Another thing we offered was bookstore coupons.  The goal of this was to get students to go to the bookstore, look at the apparel and hopefully buy something. Wearing BearWear gets students spirts up and really promotes school pride, which will hopefully bridge the gap for commuter students to feel like this campus is their home. We also gave contact information for the Student Government Association so if students wanted to get involved they were given the resources to do so.

I think it is so important for commuter students to feel like they are a part of this campus because having those connections to individuals and having a support system makes all the difference in being successful in college. The students who get the most out of their college experience are the ones who join clubs and organizations, meet people from all different backgrounds, utilize the many different resources the campus has to offer, and stay connected with important issues on campus. Commuter students have a disadvantage when it comes to this involvement because they have to seek it out, so giving them some resources to encourage them to do more than just come to class will show them Missouri State is more than just an academics, it is an environment that encourages students to live up to their full potential and really be the best version of themselves. But unfortunately commuter students don’t often recognize this without going out of their comfort zone and using the dining halls, or buying BearWear or joining a club on campus. So encouraging those things right off the bat will hopefully give our commuter students the extra push they need to seek out the amazing opportunities this campus holds for them. We will be continuing this program for semesters to come and although I felt it was successful last semester, I feel like there is a lot of room for improvement and I look forward to seeing this program grow and expand.

Read the full article here.

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Zoë Says…Happy Fall Y’all!

I’m a little late for the first day of fall, but we are nonetheless in the midst of all things orange, pumpkin and leafy. There are many events on campus that embrace the season. Many organizations have haunted houses (like the one offered during Family Weekend at Campus Rec).

There are many reasons why fall is a great season. You get to bring back the scarves, boots and everything warm and cozy. The trees on campus start turning into beautiful works of art by nature and hot chocolate and coffee become a must.

Also don’t forget that soon after the leaves fall and the days get colder and colder, the most wonderful time of year comes around! Leaves are really just an opening act to the winter wonderland yet to come.

Whether you look forward to fall 365 days of the year or you count down the days until it is over, be sure to try to embrace Fall this year. It is really a beautiful time of the year and should be experienced to its fullest.

Remember, you are never to old to enjoy fall!

My Dad, Rodney, Fall of 2014











Zoë Pixler, a junior majoring in Photography and Art Education, is the Family Orientation Assistant, helping with special projects and family orientation.  She is a member of a social sorority where she is the Vice President of New Member Education.

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Explained Absence – Circumstances Beyond our Student’s Control

When our students are at college, we assume that being in college is all they have to worry about. We don’t think of anything that could interrupt that like medical emergencies or the death of a loved one, but, we know that these things do happen. If they do, there is a contact person at Missouri State that is able to get in touch with each of the student’s instructors to let them know that something has brought them away from their studies.

Explained absences let a students’ instructors, professors and advisor know that they are going to be out of class due to circumstances that are out of their hands. This does not mean that the absence will be granted as excused because that is up to each instructor or professor as to how they want to handle the situation. It does show however, a level of professionalism from the student that they wanted to their instructor or professors to know that they are in fact out of class for a legitimate reason.

If your student ever does need this service, they or a family member or friend can contact Rebecca Neal, Coordinator of Explained Absences by calling 417-836-5258. She will notify their instructors, professors, and advisor about the incident and how long the student expects to be absent.

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Zoë’s Bucket List…See K-Man!

Russ RuBert, a local Springfield artist created the moveable statue called K-Man. This magnificent piece is located in K-Park, which is in the heart of Jordan Valley Park. K-Man is aesthetically pleasing from far away and is an impressive size when seen up close. You can move both K-Man’s arms and legs by moving one wheel at the base of the sculpture. I just recently was able to experience K-Man up close and personal, and I was rather impressed. I love learning about new gems Springfield has to offer. robot-zoe

K-Man is also in a location that is prime for hanging out on a beautiful day. I highly recommend taking out a good book and a blanket to relax in a soothing environment right here in Springfield. Jordan Valley Park is located right across the street from Hammons Field and has a path that goes past the Mediacom Ice Rink. Learn more about Russ RuBert’s K-Man and his many other works of art at http://rubert.com/wp/2009/11/kinetic-man-in-jordan-valley-park/


Zoë Pixler, a junior majoring in Photography and Art Education, is the Family Orientation Assistant, helping with special projects and family orientation.  She is a member of a social sorority where she is the Vice President of New Member Education.

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Housing Applications for 2017-2018 open October 3rd

Students living on campus for the 2017-2018 academic year (or the Spring 2017 semester) can fill out the housing application starting today, October 3rd. Go to My.MissouriState.Edu, under the Profile tab, in the Housing Channel to fill out the housing application to live on campus. Current students can fill out the housing application and will be able to pick their room between November and February (depending on what building they want to live in – more information will be emailed to them).  909100aaa21ba1ce9fefa1cec85df7e61b7e43fb_original

Future Spring Students (who are joining us in January 2017) can fill out their housing application and will be notified of their housing assignment in early January. Future Fall 2017 Students should fill out the housing application as there is no penalty for cancelling before July 1, 2017.

Make sure to complete the meningitis requirement and pay the housing deposit to have a completed housing application. If your student completes the Housing Contract before December 1, you’ll receive your Early Bird Housing Assignment at the end of February. Housing Contracts completed after that time are made in priority date order and assignments are made at the end of each month (March, April, May, June, and July).

Living on campus is beneficial to students academically. Our students who live on campus academically outperform their peers off campus, and have done so for the last 15 years. Consider all the benefits of living on campus! Check out our website for information on our Living-Learning Communities and our residence halls. http://reslife.missouristate.edu/

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Encourage your student to become a SOAR leader!

While the summer has only recently ended, we are hard at work preparing for next summer’s sessions of SOAR (Student Orientation, Advisement & Registration). One of the most critical factors of success in SOAR is selecting strong students to serve as orientation leaders for incoming students.  soar_2016_team

As a former orientation leader, I found the experience to be a valuable and fulfilling one. Here are six reasons I would encourage your student to apply to be a SOAR leader.

  • Building skills. We extensively train SOAR leaders in preparation for their roles, but they often report that their true opportunity for growth occurs on the job. Leaders frequently share that they learn how to better facilitate group discussion, speak publicly, solve problems, think critically, and work well with others different than them—all of which are skills highly sought after by employers.
  • Earning perks. SOAR leaders earn a number of great perks for their service, including wages, on-campus housing, and a meal plan for the summer. They are also provided a SOAR uniform and other gifts. Various departments across campus call upon the SOAR leaders to test new programs, provide student feedback, or apply for other important jobs or leadership positions. Being a SOAR leader has its perks!
  • Building relationships. Our leaders have a unique opportunity to build many new relationships of various types during SOAR. They certainly meet many new students through their duties, and they often form lifelong friendships with their fellow leaders. In addition, working closely with faculty and staff during the program help them form bonds with advisors, instructors, deans, and even the University president!
  • Learning from others. Being a campus-wide program, many diverse people are involved in SOAR. Student leaders have the opportunity to interact with people from different majors, ages, organizations, backgrounds, and nationalities—many that they may have not met otherwise. Listening to and working with these individuals can provide SOAR leaders with a wealth of new understanding about the Missouri State community.
  • Using campus resources. In preparing to help new students and families, SOAR leaders learn a great deal about Missouri State’s resources. This information certainly benefits them as they continue to navigate their own Missouri State experience.
  • Representing the school your student loves. SOAR leaders perform a critical function for Missouri State: they represent the University and help welcome new students and families to the Missouri State community. We rigorously select leaders to ensure they will not take this responsibility lightly. It is truly an honor to be selected as a SOAR leader, and our leaders are very proud of their role.

If your student is interested in becoming a SOAR leader, encourage them to join us for our information sessions in Meyer Library 101 on October 18 at 5 PM and October 19 at 6 PM. We will discuss leader’s duties, qualifications, and responsibilities, as well as how to apply for the position. Students can also visit our Become a SOAR Leader page or contact New Student and Family Programs for more information. The deadline to submit an application is November 9th at 5pm. The application is online.

~Joe Morris

Joe Morris, a graduate of Missouri State and former SOAR Leader, is the Director of New Student & Family Programs.

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