Missouri State University
Leadership Development Blog

LeaderBear Spotlight: Ellie Edwards

A Global Studies major and Spanish minor, Ellie Edwards is this week’s #LeaderBear. Ellie has gone through our Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs programs during her time here at Missouri State. We can only imagine what she will do before she graduates in 2016; she’s already done so much! Ellie is the former President of Alpha Chi Omega sorority but she’s a member of another greek letter organization as well, Rho Lambda Women’s Honors Society.

Ellie says that our programs have given her, “the confidence I never had when I was in high school. They helped me learn more about myself and my leadership abilities, which has given me the courage to step up and take on leadership roles within different organizations.” She also loves that these programs are lead by older students with whom she has developed mentor-like relationships. Ellie’s advice to younger students is definitely encouraging:

“My advice to younger students is to never let the fear of failure keep you from doing what it is you actually want to do. Yes, you will make mistakes, but be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and then keep going! The only things you’ll regret when you’re older are the things you didn’t do, so participate in everything you can. You may not like it, you may end up loving it, but either way you learn a little more about yourself in the process. Also, reach out to your peers and get to know as many people as possible. Everyone has a story and you will be surprised by what you can learn from others just by simply listening to them. Remember that everyone has bad days, so build others up as much as possible, support those close to you, and help whomever you can!”

Keep up the good work, Ellie! We’re proud to have you as an alumni of our programs. If readers would like to get the same experiences Ellie has had at Missouri State, check out Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs.


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LeaderBear Spotlight: Christina Adams

christinaOur #LeaderBear this week is Christina Adams. You may have seen Christina around campus doing work with Planned Parenthood, at SGA meetings, in ResLife happenings, or when she ran for Homecoming Queen last fall! Christina is expecting to graduate this month with a Bachelor’s in Hospitality and Restaurant Administration, a Bachelor’s in French, and two minors – Ethical Leadership and Technical Writing. While that Ethical Leadership minor has certainly prepared her for a life beyond Missouri State, so have our leadership programs!

Christina is an alumni of the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program and Distinction in Public Affairs. These programs will help her in whatever career path she chooses and no doubt her experience on campus will too. In 2010 Christina was the youngest nominee for the Missouri State Women Student of Distinction Award. She also won the 2014 RA/RPA Programmer of the Year Award and received the Midwest Asian American Students Union’s highest award in 2013. Christina is a graduated sister of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority on Missouri State’s campus and has been involved in various other cultural, political, and honors organizations.

“When I first began in Emerging Leaders, I had been involved on campus, but I struggled with confidence and communication skills. The Emerging Leaders program focused on my strengths and provided resources to lessen my weaknesses. All of the leadership programs provide amazing connections, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to work as a participant and a facilitator in their programs.”

-Christina Adams

Christina’s best advice for any younger students reading this is to “apply for everything.” Get out of your comfort zone and apply for thing because it will lead to many opportunities around campus, in the community, and further. Each opportunity, she says, will be a thrilling and memorable experience.


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LeaderBear Spotlight: Andrea Green

andrea greenWith the fall semester winding down, many first year freshman have a lot of new experiences to look back on from their first semester at college.  Missouri State senior Andrea Green says some of her best memories are planning events for new freshman the first week that they are here on campus to help them have the best experience possible! Our LeaderBear this week has been very involved with the MSU Student Activities Council in her three and a half years here on campus. She was a member of their executive board for most of her time on the council serving as the Vice President of Marketing and Vice President of Operations.  Now that she is in her last year she still a member of the general council and stays very involved in the organization.

When I asked her what some of her favorite events that she help plan were, she replied without a doubt, it was the events the council holds on opening week.  SAC puts on an event every night of the first week students are here, starting the Friday of Welcome Weekend.  When responding to why these events were her favorite Andrea said, “It is so much fun to be there for the incoming freshman and watch as they make new friends, come out of their comfort zone, and really experience college.” Many of the students finishing up their first semester probably have some great memories of these events that Andrea helped put on.

Next semester will be Andrea’s last semester at Missouri State as she finishes up her student teaching to receive her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May. She looks forward to being able to teach a classroom full of diverse students in the future. In her time at MSU she not only was very involved in SAC but also served as a student leader for CRU and attend CRU regularly. She completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program during her sophomore year in 2013. Her top five strengths that she uses everyday are: achiever, includer, responsibility, belief, and developer.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

“Learning about other people and leadership styles has impacted me the most. I think learning about others lets you really get to know and appreciate them for who they are and accept them. Everyone is different but if we do not recognize those differences and appreciate them we will never learn from them and learn to appreciate them. I am going into education and I will have the pleasure of teaching diverse students one day. What I have learned about diversity in these programs I have been involved in at Missouri State will help me to become a better teacher for my diverse students.”

Her advice to younger students:

“I would tell younger students to get involved in something while they are in college. College is a time to grow and experiment, by getting involved they may find a new passion or hobby or they may find a great friend they will keep in contact with for years to come. Getting involved can totally change the college experience a student will have and I think it can make all the difference.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: A’dja Jones

Adja JonesA’dja attended Missouri State as an undergraduate and graduated with her bachelor’s from the university in 2011. For her, MSU was the perfect place to stick around and get a Master’s in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Upon graduating from that program in 2014 she began work as an Academic Counselor in the Athletics Department here at MO State!

Where did this Bear start out? She completed and facilitated the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Program as an undergraduate student. A’dja reflected a little on what impacted her about our programs:

“Looking back at the time and dedication given to myself and other emerging leaders by the faculty and staff I worked with was truly astounding. They, themselves, led by example and invested so much energy into empowering us to find our strengths and helping us to understand the meaning and power of leadership.”

Jones uses the skills she learned in Emerging Leaders to work with student athletes now. Not only is this a rewarding experience but one that A’dja, no doubt, is making an impact on student leaders at her alma mater. Her advice for younger students is simple. First, get out there and take risks. A’dja wants younger students to understand that leadership “is about finding the best way to empower others and make things happen.” Lastly, she says, get comfortable with feedback. Instead of taking it personally if it happens to be negative, Jones suggests that you use this feedback to make improvements.

A’dja was also a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha during her time at Missouri State.

Her top 5 strengths are: Significance, Competition, Harmony, Focus, and Achiever.


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LeaderBear Spotlight: Elizabeth Sivill

SivillElizabeth Sivill is an example of a participant in our programs that was truly inspired to use what she learned to do great things and get involved with everything she possibly could.  She was part of the Centennial Leaders Scholarship program her freshman and sophomore year and completed the Distinction in Public Affairs program her sophomore year.  Elizabeth says she remembers being terrified for the first Centennial Leaders meeting the first day of classes of her freshman year. But with each session she grew confidence that she would take beyond the program.

This week’s LeaderBear is an accouting and risk management/insurance double major planning to graduate in 2016. Elizabeth currently holds a job in the Dean of the College of Business’ Office and she recently completed an internship at O’Reilly’s corporate office over the summer. She’s only in her junior year but her resume of what she’s done is nothing short of outstanding.  Each year Centennial Leaders must accrue points in their second year by getting involved on campus.  Elizabeth set a program record by accruing over 400 points. Some of the things she has gotten herself involved in include:

• Beta Alpha Psi (Profession Accounting Fraternity)

- President 2014-2015

- Treasurer 2013-2014

• Student Government Association – Senator

• Delta Sigma Pi – Vice President of Finance

• Campus for Christ – Vice President

• Accounting Club/IMA – Director of Professional Programming

• Bill Perry Accounting Leadership Circle

• MSU COB Student Ambassador

• Governor’s Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values Representative

• Numerous Community Service Opportunities

One of Elizabeth’s biggest accomplishments has been taking something something she learned in one of our programs and placing in a national competition with it.  Every year the Centennial Leaders class learns about their strengths through a tool called StrengthsFinder.  Each student takes a test that produces them with the results of their top five strengths out of 34.  Elizabeth took what she learned in Centennial Leaders and after collaborating with our office completed a best practices project for her Beta Alpha Psi chapter about strengths.  She had all of her members take the StrengthsFinder test and used the results to better structure and organize her organization.  Her project received 1st place at the regional level and won 3rd place nationally. The 5 strengths that help Elizabeth accomplish what she does are: Achiever, Learner, Harmony, Responsibility, Input.

If you are interested in having an inspiring experience in one of our leadership programs like Elizabeth did, there is still time to apply for one this year. The deadline for Distinction in Public Affairs applications is November 20, 2014. Visit our website today if you are interested: www.missouristate.edu/dpa.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

“The life lessons and the friendships made. Going into Centennial Leaders on the first day of classes was terrifying. After the end of each session, I grew more confidence and comfortable with the group and with myself. I learned that I can take on tasks and be a leader. Also, I was able to take on skills I learned in Centennial Leaders and apply them to my other organizations. My Beta Alpha Psi chapter used StrengthsQuest to form committees last year and my college ministry (Campus for Christ) visited leadership ranch. Finally, I met some of my best friends through Centennial Leaders. We are all there to support one another in accomplishing our goals and living out our college years to the fullest. I still hang out with them today!”

Her advice to younger students:

“Take advantage of every opportunity given to you and learn from it. Life (and college specifically) elapses quickly, and it is up to you to make something of your time. So be brave and commit yourself to things you might not think you can conquer, so that when you do, you can reflect on how much you have grown. If it ends with discontentment, still reflect and see what you learned about yourself from it. You will learn what you morals and values are, how to use them in an effective way.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Blake Shepheard

blake shepheardHave you ever been to a Missouri State athletic event and got your picture taken with Boomer? If so there’s a chance you have taken a picture with this week’s LeaderBear and had no idea.  The LeaderBear we are referring to is Blake Shepheard, who has the awesome job of being one of students who serve as Boomer at community and athletic events. Blake is a sophomore criminology major who plans to graduate in 2017.

When he’s not busy showing his radiant school spirit, Blake is busy serving his many leadership roles on Missouri State’s campus.  He graduated from the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program in the spring of 2014.  The leadership skills he learned in the program have helped in his roles as an RHA executive board member, a member of the Relay for Life planning committee, and a participant in the LeaderShape Academy over the summer.  Blake most recently took on a role as a Resident Assistant in Blair-Shannon House for the 2014-2015 school year.

The top 5 strengths that help Blake in his leadership roles are: Belief, Connectedness, Relator, Responsibility, and Strategic.

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

“My favorite moment of the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Program was the retreat. We had the ability to spend time with some of the top student leaders in all parts of campus and build life-long friendships that will help us to make our various student organizations as great as possible.”

His advice to younger students:

“Like anything else, your experience at Missouri State is what you make of it. It would be simple to attend class, study, pass the exams and graduate in four years with your diploma. Don’t strive for the simple path. Take the path that will teach you new things, subject you to new and unfamiliar experiences, make you uncomfortable, allow you to meet new people, learn new things about yourself, require you to ask tough questions, help you to stand up for what you believe in and ultimately, earn your degree. Submerge yourself in what you are passionate about. Our time is limited here at MSU, make the most of it while you can. Strive each day to improve yourself and to make someone’s day better. You never know what kind of impact you will make! Step out of your comfort zone and get involved early on. You will undoubtedly grow into a great student leader.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Stephanie Goss

Stephanie GossThis week’s LeaderBear is Stephanie Goss.  Stephanie is currently pursuing her doctorate in Audiology at Missouri State and plans to graduate in 2016. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. Stephanie completed both the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders and the Distinction in Public Affairs program from our office.  She says that both really impacted her, especially the Distinction in Public Affairs because it showed her how important the public affairs mission was in her daily life. Stephanie is pictured to the right (middle) with her DPA presentation group.  If you would like to have this same experience we are currently accepting applications for the Distinction program until November 20, 2014.  You can apply online at www.missouristate.edu/dpa.

Stephanie also got involved in many other things during her time as an undergraduate at Missouri State. She was a University Ambassador, Director of Research and Development for Student Government Association and a teacher assistant in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Pre-School at Missouri State University.  She is currently working as a graduate assistant for the Office of Multicultural Programs where she helps plan, promote and organize diverse and inclusive events for students. Assisting with multicultural organizations through budgeting, planning and setting goals for the academic year is also part of her job. Stephanie enjoys helping students reach their goals and planning events that she believes make a difference on the campus of MSU.

Her top strengths that help her in all her leadership roles are: Command, Competition, Restorative, Self-Assurance and Significance.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

“Being involved with Emerging Leaders helped me evolve as a person and as a leader.  I was able to better see my weaknesses and I was given the tools and support to work on those areas for growth.  During Emerging Leaders I was also taught how to be proud about the strengths that I possess and how to encourage others to use the strengths that they hold.  Emerging Leaders taught me how to truly be a team player and how to effectively play my position on the team!  Being involved in Distinction in Public Affairs helped me to break down the Public Affairs Mission and to realize how important the mission was to my daily life.  What impacted me the most Distinction in Public Affairs was that I got to work closely with faculty members and students that I did not know.  We took the journey together and created friendships while we learned about the Public Affairs Mission.  It was important for me to understand how they interpreted themes and concepts in the mission vs. how I viewed those same themes and concepts.  This is ultimately what helped as grow as we went along the process.”

Her advice to younger students:

“Some advice that I would give to younger students is to get involved as much as possible.  The academic side of college is important but gaining different perspectives, meeting people with diverse lifestyles and cultures and discovering something that you are passionate about is invaluable.  Every student has something to offer and every student has something they need to gain before they graduate.  I would advise students to make sure they are giving to others and learning from each other throughout their time at Missouri State University.  This will help the student body grow together and become whole.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Taylor Moody

Taylor MoodyMissouri State University recently crowned it’s newest Homecoming Queen, Taylor Moody, who also happens to be this week’s LeaderBear! Taylor was sponsored by her sorority Alpha Chi Omega, and spent the week following the yellow brick road with her playful theme that was a take on the Wizard of Oz. She was crowned during halftime of the homecoming game on October 18, 2014.  Taylor’s charm and playful theme are not solely what won her the crown though.  She has been involved in a lot during her time here as an undergraduate.

Her freshman and sophomore year she completed our Centennial Leaders Scholarship Program which inspired her to go on and become a great leader.  Taylor served as the president for her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, her sophomore year.  Taylor has also been a returning SOAR Leader and served as Student Panel Coordinator this past summer.  Her junior year she took part in another role for our leadership programs and served as a Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Facilitator.  She will return in the spring for a second year as a facilitator, serving this time as the chair!

This semester, along with being crowned queen, Taylor also won the Dr. Don Aripoli Award for Impactful Leadership.  This award is given to a nominee that shows continued exemplary leadership in an organization or campus area for an extended period of time helping the organization/area grow.  She plans to graduate in December 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in entertainment management.

Her top strengths that help her in all her leadership roles are: Adaptability, Woo, Positivity, Includer, and Developer.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

“Being involved in programs like Centennial Leaders and Emerging Leaders has allowed me to put my leadership skills to use and has given me the experience needed to make a difference in the organizations I am involved in.  I am so thankful that I was a part of the Centennial Leaders program my first two years at MSU, because it gave me the confidence I needed to take on leadership roles during my college career, and to impact Missouri State in a positive way.”

Her advice to younger students:

“Be yourself and take advantage of all of the amazing opportunities Missouri State University offers you. Be kind to others, do your homework, and make friends! Leave your mark on this campus and have the best time of your life!”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Scott Turk

Scott TurkWith Missouri State’s Homecoming well under way, one graduate will definitely be making the trip back to celebrate. That alumni is this week’s LeaderBear, Scott Turk.  Scott was very involved as an undergraduate and can’t miss an opportunity to come back and show some of his bear pride.  As an undergraduate he was awarded the high honor of Student Body President. He was also very involved in fraternity and sorority life serving as a Greek Week Director and the Vice President of his fraternity, Theta Chi.  His fraternal achievements eventually won him the highest award that Theta Chi nationals awards to an individual.

His passion for politics also took him on a trip Washington, D.C. to lobby on behalf of Theta Chi on a fraternal housing initiative. This passion led him to working in the Missouri House of Representatives as well as helping with various political campaigns in Missouri after his graduation from Missouri State in 2013.  He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in socio-political communication and recently starting law school this fall at the University of Missouri.

As an undergraduate Scott completed both the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs programs. His top strengths are: Individualization, Achiever, Ideation, Woo, and Input.

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

“I will continue to utilize the many things that I learned throughout my time at Missouri State through programs offered from the OSE; however, by far the biggest thing that I have learned is the importance of incorporating and understanding that the best team is a diverse team. Too many fall into the pit of surrounding themselves with like minded individuals in order to reaffirm their own ideas. I learned that everyone is able to bring a unique perspective that will challenge the group and bring them to an entirely new level of growth. Diversity is not merely a benefit, it is a necessity.

His advice to younger students:

“My biggest advice can be a lesson and important quote that I heard from an incredible role model of mine, Jim Anderson. When doing our Distinction in Public Affairs Project, he is quoted as encouraging students to “be a sponge” when it comes to interacting with the multitude of different individuals that we encounter during our time at college. Nothing is more important than the lessons that others carry, as everyone can teach us something different.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Hailey Wexler

Hailey WexlerWe just selected our newest group of Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Facilitators and Hailey Wexler is one of them! Hailey has been very active in our leadership programs completing the Emerging Leaders program her freshman year then going on to complete the Distinction in Public Affairs program and facilitate the Centennial Leaders Scholarship Program. She will now return and help facilitate the 2015 Emerging Leaders program this Spring.  If you are interested in being a participant in this program and having Hailey teach you some great leadership skills, the deadline to apply isn’t until October 31, 2014 and you can apply online at: www.missouristate.edu/emergingleaders.

Leadership programs isn’t all that Hailey has been involved in during her time as an undergraduate degree.  While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in marketing from Missouri State, her other involvements which she is most proud of include:

  • Studying abroad in Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece
  • Being a character performer for a semester in the Disney College Program
  • Director of Human Resources at OPAL Agency
  • Member of Sigma Kappa Social Sorority
  • Panhellenic Recruitment Counselor (Pi Chi)
  • On the Dean’s List (all semesters)
  • Peer Assisted Study Session (PASS) Leader for a semester
  • GA for the Department of Fashion and Interior Design
  • Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars

Her top strengths that help her in all her leadership roles are: Communication, WOO, Significance, Positivity, and Achiever.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

“Being able to do hands-on activities that taught me how to work as a group and as an individual while learning how different people have different leadership styles has made me able to better understand how to work with others who respond to situations differently than myself. I was also hugely impacted by our public affairs projects in Distinction in Public Affairs – creating our project, itself, and then presenting it during Public Affairs Week, as well as seeing what other groups had come up with, made me realize that students at Missouri State really have the ability to make a difference, which is such a powerful thing to learn.”

Her advice to younger students:

“Take every single opportunity you’re given! Being busy is a good thing! College goes by so quickly and there are so many things to get involved in while you’re here, so join groups that interest you and allow you to grow as a student, as an individual, and as a member of a team. So many of the most valuable lessons I am taking away from college aren’t necessarily things I learned in the classroom and I am so thankful for joining the organizations I did!”

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