Missouri State University
Leadership Development Blog

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.


Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Leave a comment

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!”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Leave a comment

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!”

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged , | Comments Off

2015 Emerging Leaders Facilitators

The 2015 Emerging Leaders Facilitators have been selected!!! Congratulations to: Hailey Wexler, Julie Daoust, Leah ReitmayerDylan Myers, Francis Ahrens, Cody Stout, Layne IvyTaylor Moody, and Bethany Bishop.

Don’t forget to keep spreading the word about the program! Applications are available now for participants until October 31, 2014 at:www.missouristate.edu/emergingleaders


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

LeaderBear Spotlight: Jennifer Artman

Jennifer ArtmanThis week we feature a very successful LeaderBear, Jennifer Artman.  Jennifer went through the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program as a freshman in 2005 and went on to later facilitate the program in 2008.  She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in History from Missouri State in 2008.  While she was an undergraduate on campus she was very involved being a SOAR Leader multiple times and president of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, along with many other things.

Following graduation from Missouri State, Jennifer went on to law school at the University of Missouri.  After graduating and passing the bar in 2011, she clerked for a judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri for a year.  She is now an attorney with Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a national and international law firm headquartered in Kansas City, where she practices civil defense litigation.  In her practice, she works on litigation teams to defend companies that manufacture products and are sued in either strict liability or negligence in courts across the country.

Jennifer is honored to represent clients ranging from Fortune 50, 100 and 500 companies to Kansas City small businesses, landowners, and individuals. She has been able to carve out a niche practice where she works for automotive defendants and clients in the construction and industrial services industry. She says, “my work is incredibly diverse and exciting.  Some weeks I am traveling to take depositions in Alabama or Texas while other weeks I am in our Kansas City office, meeting with clients and assessing their risk or liability in specific situations.”

In addition to her work for the firm’s clients, Jennifer spends time working on pro bono cases for juvenile clients in the Jackson County Family Court and participating in the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.  In her personal life she enjoys running and competing in local races.  So far in 2014, she’s ran three half-marathons and achieved a new personal best time for the mile!

Her advice to younger students:

“My advice may seem a bit unorthodox – do it all.  Every bit of it.  Try everything.  Take every chance you can that is offered to you.  I’m talking about classes, events, trips, study sessions, programs, opportunities to be involved on campus, friendships, late nights, seminars, international travel, volunteer activities, dinners, movies, books, thoughts, sports, ideas, food, discussions.  Go to a place you’ve never been.  Read an article you would never pick up on your own. Eat something that looks weird on the menu.  Sign up for a leadership program, or go out for an activity that is different than what you usually do.  How do you know what you like until you try it? You don’t know what you don’t know.  I didn’t know who I was, and I keep trying new things every day to find out who I am.  And I think every day I learn something new about myself that I didn’t know before.”

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

“Finding out that I can both be a leader and simultaneously need a leader was something that hit me while facilitating the Emerging Leaders program.  Before that experience I assumed I was either one or the other in a specific situation – and sometimes, the thought of being the “leader” was overwhelming, and other times the idea of “being led” by someone else was boring or stifling.  But while I was facilitating the program, with some other excellent facilitators, I found myself learning more about time management, balance, life skills, motivation, and personal fulfillment than I have ever known from the participants.  Keeping this in mind throughout law school and my practice as an attorney has made me better-rounded.  While sitting in a meeting where I am likely perceived as the leader, I remember to ask for thoughts and suggestions from others.  Meanwhile, I find the correct time to offer my input to others on teams where I am not the designated leader.  By harmonizing these two roles, I feel more fulfilled about my position in my job.  It also helps me take ownership of my ideas and feel like I am contributing to a process.”

Do you want to have the experience that Jennifer had in the Emerging Leaders program and learn things that you will later use in your professional life? We are now accepting applications for freshmen and sophomores for the Spring 2015 program. Applications can be filled out online until October 31, 2014 on our website: www.missouristate.edu/emergingleaders.

Posted in LeaderBear | Tagged | Comments Off

LeaderBear Spotlight: Spencer J. T. Orr

Spencer OrrThis week’s LeaderBear is Spence J.T. Orr. Spencer came to Missouri State in the fall of 2008 as a Music Major and a Centennial Leaders Scholarship recipient. During his time in the Centennial Leader’s program, he was active in a variety of university bands and ensembles including the pride marching band, concert band, symphonic band, and wind symphony.

Over time he gained increasing amounts of responsibility through involvement in residence life. He was a student desk receptionist in Wells House and an RA in Woods House and Hutchens House. Through his involvement in residence life, he discovered his passion for helping others and the field of student affairs. After graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in geography/geotourism he continued at Missouri State studying student affairs in the Masters in Student Affairs in Higher Education Program. His first year in the program he was a graduate assistant in Residence Life as the Assistant Hall Director for Sunvilla Tower.

This year Spencer was promoted to a full time role as the Residence Hall Director of Wells House. He says, “I’m right where I need to be, being a champion for student success and going to school to finish my master’s degree in student affairs.”

It was recently announced that Spencer won the NASPA IV-West Region Graduate Student Rising Star Award.  This award recognizes outstanding student affairs professionals in higher education.  There is only one winner for each state and Spencer won the award for the state of Missouri.  If you would like to learn more about NASPA and the award process please visit: http://www.naspa.org/about/awards/regions/region-iv-west-awards.

Spencer’s top strengths are: Strategic, Relator, Responsibility, Analytical, and Maximizer.

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

“Coming to college can be a scary thing. I was worried I wouldn’t know anybody. Being a part of the Centennial Leader’s program helped ease this fear of mine. Immediately before even stepping on campus, I knew I’d meet people who were Centennial Leaders with me. We learned many things in Centennial Leaders, from leadership styles to our own strengths and how those strengths can impact the ways we interact with one another. One of my favorite take-aways would be working together as a group to plan a leadership conference for high school students. The centennial leaders program challenged me to grow and develop into the professional I am today.”

His advice to younger students:

“Get involved. You’ll find you have a lot of free time coming into college, maybe more than you were expecting. There are so many opportunities to become a part of something here at Missouri State, don’t let them pass you by! If you’re looking for something to join, ask your RA, ask me, ask anybody! Don’t be afraid to reach out and try new things. Especially majors…. If you’re looking for a cool one, go to Temple Hall and check out the Geography, Geology, & Planning Department. In my own slightly biased opinion, Geotourism is the best major on campus”

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off