Missouri State University
Leadership Development Blog

LeaderBear Spotlight: Rob Stange

Rob StangeThis week’s LeaderBear is Missouri State Alumni, Rob Stange. He graduated from MSU with his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2006 and his MBA in marketing in 2007. In 2007, he was an inaugural recipient of the Board of Governors Citizen Scholar Award. Later he had the opportunity to come back to Missouri State and present in two different Public Affairs Conferences. He said, “It was a great opportunity to give back to MSU through service, and I also was able to do some guest lecturing in the marketing department!”

Upon graduation Rob was a global sourcing product manager at Target headquarters for wall décor (art, mirrors, and clocks). He had the chance to travel to China, Vietnam, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Canada and across the U.S. representing Target to the vendor community. He was recognized with a 2012 corporation pyramid leadership award for leading a team through change and demonstrating personal drive and accountability.

Rob now has the dream job of manager of promotional products for the Walt Disney Company. He essentially manage a team that ensures Disney is able to provide specialty merchandise (free stuff!) to guests and cast members that are of high quality, meet Disney brand standards, and also are produced by socially responsible manufacturers.

As an undergraduate he facilitated the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program. His top strengths are: Maximizer, Arranger, Futuristic, Individualization, and Positivity.

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

“I was a facilitator for emerging leaders, and absolutely loved the experience. Anyone can be “designated” a leader/manager, but a true leader earns the title by gaining the trust and support of people around them. Being a facilitator required me to learn those skills by gaining trust and leading through example to other students. I’ve carried this on into my professional career but making sure that I lead through actions and words versus by a feeling of entitlement. It’s so much more rewarding when you have the belief of others that are you are a leader!”

His advice to younger students:

“Never stop setting goals. Yes, life happens and things change to where you end up in different locations, situations, and circumstances than what you anticipated a few years prior. However, it’s important to always have a path in your mind that forces you to keep moving forward in life while enjoying the present that is around you.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Grace Chang

Grace ChangThis week’s LeaderBear is Grace Chang.  Grace is the current president of Student Activities Council on campus.  She has a passion for planning events, especially ones involving music, and hopes to plan music festivals in her future.  She currently leads her team in bringing tons of activities and events to Missouri State’s campus.

Outside of Student Activities Council Grace is the Programming Intern for the Girl Scouts of America: Heartland.  She is a past Resident Assistant and Conference Assistant and led a Bear Service Team for 2 years.  Grace completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program in the Spring of 2013.

Grace is currently a junior pursuing her Bachelor’s degreee in Public Relations intending to graduate in 2016.

Her top strengths are: Empathy, Harmony, Positivity, Adaptability, and Woo.

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

“Emerging leaders helped me branch out and meet other leaders in different organizations. I gained new perspectives from other organizations. It was definitely a turning point in my understanding of leadership.”

Her advice to younger students:

“Everyone is going to tell you to get involved. My advice is try and reach out to an organization you want to be a part of. Help out with little things without being asked to and just ask people if they need help with anything. Being a go-getter is something that people will notice!”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Ashley Crisafulli

Ashley CrisafulliWith sorority recruitment just finishing up, this week we highlight a very accomplished and involved sorority president, Ashley Crisafulli.  Ashley is currently finishing up her second semester as president of Alpha Delta Pi.  She is a junior planning to graduate in the Spring of 2016 with a bachelors degree in both Political Science and Business Administrative Management.

While at Missouri State Ashley has gotten very involved and achieved a lot of honors already. She just completed the Centennial Leaders Program last spring and will complete her term as president of Alpha Delta Pi in December. In her free time she loves to volunteer in the community as much as she can.  Her other involvements and achievements on campus include:

  • Centennial Leaders Scholarship recipient
  • Junior Facilitator for Missouri Leadership Seminar
  • Director of Student Affairs for SGA
  • FSL Freshman of the Year
  • STAR Awards Outstanding Junior of the Year

Ashley’s top strengths are: Achiever, Activator, Communication, Positivity, and Maximizer

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

“Being a leader is not just about the title you hold, it is about how you carry yourself and influence those around you in every day life. Centennial Leaders taught me how to be a leader in every life scenario. It taught me how to work with and connect with people that I may not have before. It bettered my leadership skills and has helped develop me into the leader I am today.”

Her advice to younger students:

“My advise to younger students is to find something you are passionate about and get involved with it. There are hundreds of opportunities at Missouri State University to follow your passion through clubs, activities, organizations, and service events. Being engaged in our college community will make your time here more enjoyable and impactful on both your life and the lives around you.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Reiner Gall

Reiner GallThis week’s LeaderBear is Reiner Gall and he is technically a LeaderPig now as well.  He is now a Razorback after recently accepting a job at the University of Arkansas as the Program Coordinator of Registered Student Organizations. Reiner had a very big summer because on top of starting a new job and making a big move to a new state and school, he also got married to his college sweetheart Erica Rens.

Reiner graduated in the Spring of 2012 with his BS in Administrative Management and went on to complete his masters degree at Missouri State, graduating in the Spring of 2014 with his MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education.

As an undergrad, Reiner completed the Distinction in Public Affairs program and was very active in Fraternity and Sorority Life as a member of Theta Chi fraternity and serving as the FSL Student Specialist.  While completing his Master’s degree he also served as the Graduate Assistant for SOFAC.

His top strengths are: Context, Harmony, Consistency, Analytical, Learner.

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

“The opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Public Affairs mission and also to see it exemplified in community projects.  It was inspiring to see my group and the others sympathizing with public affairs issues and connecting with the community to address those issues.”

His advice to younger students:

“Get involved outside the classroom – everyone says it, but that’s because it is so important.  But also, get connected with the community and serve.  Helping others, combating society’s problems, expanding your knowledge, and contributing to your identity are just some of the benefits from being connected with your community and serving those around you.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Bethany Bishop

Bethany BishopThis week our LeaderBear is the newest member of the Leadership Development team, Bethany Bishop.  Bethany started this week as the Leadership Student Specialist.  She will work this year with all of our leadership programs helping to plan and prepare for them, as well as assist in facilitating them. We are very excited to have Bethany on the team and know she will do a great job!

She recently completed the Centennial Leaders Scholarship program last year and also served as an RA in Hammons House.  Over the summer she was a Conference Assistant in Res Life as well.  She looks forward to continuing school and staying involved.

Bethany is currently a junior pursuing her Bachelor’s degreee in Health Services.  She intends to graduate in 2016.

Her top strengths are: Achiever, Believer, Consistency, Relator, and Responsibility.

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

“The connections that I made and the knowledge that I received made the biggest imprint on me.  I have made so many friends and found many resources and people to go to in order to get the most out of my college experience and future.  The skills I gained as a student leader through Centennial Leaders have taught me so much for the present and for what is yet to come.”

Her advice to younger students:

“My best advice would be to embrace the beauty and fun of life and opportunities. The world has a lot to offer and in order to get the most of it and succeed, it’s best to put yourself out there, take advantage, and try.  Laugh, learn from mistakes and successes, balance your priorities and goals, make connections, and be confident!”

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LeaderShape really can impact you, just ask Kelsea Fink!

Missouri State University-Illinois-2Kelsea Fink, a junior accounting major, is a prime example of how LeaderShape really does impact and inspire the students who attend it.  Kelsea shared with us some of what she learned and it sounds like she had an amazing experience.  Check it out:

“It is the end of Day 4 at LeaderShape and all I can think about is how strong the word “leadership” is. The term “leadership” is so diverse and unique to everyone, yet it is so important and profound in our world. It can be hard. It can be emotional and confusing. It can be frustrating, but it is worth it to figure out what kind of leader we are and follow our passions using our own strengths and weaknesses. Leadership is authentic. It is accepting the fact that you may fail, and being humble when you succeed. It is never perfect and it is dynamically changing. Leadership is recognizing our own limitations and moving past them. Nobody will ever have the answer to what being a leader means. It is using ethical integrity in every decision. It is striving for inclusiveness, vulnerability, honesty, and trust.  Leadership is about forming relationships with those around you, recognizing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and using these differences to achieve goals and visions together. It is active listening, asking questions, and providing and receiving constructive criticism to those around us. It is understanding when to be quiet and letting someone else share their thoughts and beliefs. Leadership is finding out who YOU are and what YOU want. It is fighting your inner voice that tells you “I can’t” and replacing those words with “anything is possible.”  It is being happy with yourself so you can lead by example. It is having a healthy disregard for the impossible. Leadership isn’t, and will not ever, be easy. It is hard work and a continuous process.”

Kelsea believes that throughout the program she found the answer to the age old question about leaders; are leaders born or made? She says she learned at LeaderShape that no leader is ever born, they are made and it will always be worth it to strive to be the leader you want to be in every aspect of your life.

“HeIMG_2853re’s a dirty little secret about LeaderShape- you will not leave the week the same person you were walking into it. It transforms you from the inside out. It is Day 5 and as I look around at the other 60 students experiencing the Institute, I know they feel the same way I do. We are confused. We are scared. We are happy. We are 1000 different emotions all mixed into one. How do we leave this week and allow ourselves to go back to our daily routines? How can we sit back and watch unethical things happen and be okay with it? Exactly- we can’t. Because after all, we did learn that “Indecision is a decision” and if we were to sit back that would make us naïve. It is amazing that one week ago all these individuals were strangers to me, yet now I know their goals, passions, personal experiences, and visions. We have opened up to one another on levels that are indescribable. Visions were made, relationships were formed, and we were all transformed from the inside out. All of our visions are different, unique, and passionate, but most importantly all of our visions are attainable if we want them to be.”

IMG_2881The following are key ideas and quotes that Kelsea would like to share from her experience:

  • Dreams come into being as we speak. I will speak my dreams into reality and I will achieve what I want.
  • We see the world not as it is, but as we are.
  • Our mind is our only limit. We must have the courage to quiet the inner voice that holds us all back, doing this will empower us to achieve our visions and goals.
  • Humans get too busy doing and forget to live. Be a leader, but do not ever forget to live.
  • Integrity is expensive.
  • You have to change your people, your places, your things, and reflect on your life and what you want and what makes you happy. All people who made a significance difference were not changing THE world, they changed THEIR world. YOU determine your own success.
  • Live like you have already accomplished your goals.
  • Live authentically, always.
  • Great leaders have a healthy disregard for the impossible.
  • Everything in life is the perception YOU have of it.
  • Embrace everything you possibly can, because one day it’ll all be gone.
  • FAILURE is the best teacher.
  • I cannot fix somebodies internal thoughts; I can only create the environment around them and lead by example.
  • Excellence is a habit. We are what we repeatedly do.


  1. Leaders are born, not made.
  2. Leaders have all the answers.
  3. Leaders exist only at the top.
  4. Leadership is magical and mystical.


  1. Leadership requires inner work as well as outer work.
  2. Leadership is about integrity and character.
  3. Leadership is based on trusting relationships.
  4. Leadership means having a healthy disregard for the impossible.
  5. Leadership begins with the heart and ends with results.






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Did you know we sent Boomer the Bear to LeaderShape?

LeaderShape Selfie!

That’s right we literally sent Boomer the Bear to the LeaderShape Institute on July 20th. Ok, so maybe it was sophomore criminal justice major, Blake Shepheard, who just so happens to serve as Boomer the Bear at athletic events.  It sounded like Blake had a life changing experience at LeaderShape and has big plans to bring what he learned back to Missouri State. Here are some things that he chose to share from the week:

Day 1:

We just completed day one at the LeaderShape Institute. It is really pretty awesome to be out here in the middle of Illinois with sixty ambitious student leaders from across the nation. I have met people from all over the United States! My favorite part about this experience so far is the passion and energy. Everyone here is on the same page. We all have a desire to change the world for a positive way and I am excited to see how our community continues to grow throughout the rest of the week here at Allerton Park.


image41 Day 2:

This program is fast paced. Time is flying and I am having such a great time! Today we talked about the value of one, the power of all. This topic specifically resignated with me because I think student leaders often feel very capable of doing their job, especially with the size of our campus. I like to imagine a day when all of our student organizations can work together, cooperate, to reach every student and help them to engage in our campus some way. Each individual is capable of a lot, however, when we work together, we can accomplish so much more.

Day 3:

What a powerful day. Each participant came in with a passion and we have been working to shape and mold that in to a personal vision. Today was real. Today was powerful. We discussed the importance of challenging what is and looking to what could be. I think that many times we take our daily life for granted and assume that every second of the day is planned out, that our future is set. Today we learned that it is not. We have the ability to change the status quo and we are starting to get the resources and knowledge as to how to make that happen. It’s an awesome transformation.

image16Day 4:

Bringing vision to reality. That was the topic today. We talked about those things that keep us up at night, that ponder our brain when we are taking a final exam and that cause us to day dream when we should be focused. We discussed how to make our visions real and attainable and how to get other people on board. My favorite part of today was going around and seeing the “tomorrow’s headlines” activity. I was encouraged to know that our generation has the desire to generate change.

Day 5:

Living and leading with integrity can be hard, especially when dealing with those every day who have different values than yourself. For me, sticking to my core values can be a trick at times. Today we talked about the importance of staying true to yourself and how that maintains your credibility as a leader. We did some hardcore examination of who we are and committed to maintaining that even after leaving LeaderShape and returning to our campuses.

image39Day 6:

It is always exciting to attend Leadership programs. You always seem to get a “leadership high” because everyone around you has the same passion and drive as yourself. We all share pretty similar values and have experiences that unite us. The most difficult part is leaving the institute and staying in action. Our final morning consisted of discussing ways to stay encouraged and positive and ready to act when we return home. We discussed the importance of living our LeaderShape and being an example to others in our everyday life.

Day 7:

Although LeaderShape is only six days, we discuss “Day 7″ which is the future. It is every day, waking up with a desire to change things, encourage others and live the true compassion of LeaderShape. It is sticking to your core values in those times when giving in would be easier and it is working each day to make your vision a reality. I imagine a world where pride and dignity can be instilled in the lives of underprivileged youth and day 7 is the opportunity for me to make that happen and to work to get everyone else involved. LeaderShape transformed me as a leader, but only because I dove in head first, ready to fail and learn new things. I had no regrets and I lived in the moment 100% of the time. I have learned the importance of integrity as well as striving to make the world a better place. I encourage everyone to attend a LeaderShape Institute and I hope that it evolves you as a person as much as it did me!​



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LeaderBear Spotlight: Caleb Hearon

caleb2Our LeaderBear for this week is Caleb Hearon.  Caleb just returned from the LeaderShape Institute, a 6 day program that challenges participants to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values.  Participants explore not only what they want to do, but who they want to be. (To learn more about LeaderShape visit www.leadershape.org.) Here is a little bit about what he learned during his experience:

“LeaderShape was a tremendous experience! I guess one thing I really learned was to stop thinking of leadership as a lofty idea. Leadership isn’t something for CEO’s, VP’s of this, or President’s of that. Leadership is something we choose to do every single day. The way we interact with friends, the choices we make, and the attitude we choose to show up with all contribute to being a leader. The problem today is that we all look at people like MLK, Jr. and JFK and say, “Wow, those people really did something!” But we neglect to think of the thousands of regular people who marched behind them, hung flyers, and made a difference just like them.”

Over the course of this coming academic year, Caleb will put what he learned to use.  He will team up with the 4 other Missouri State students who attend the LeaderShape Insitute (Kelsea Fink, Blake Shepeard, Courtney Pfluke, and Emily Cassimatis) and plan the very first Missouri State sponsored LeaderShape. Caleb seems very excited:

“We tend to get complacent in what we’ve learned and experienced. Truth is – you’re never done growing as a leader. If you think you are, you’re wrong. There’s always more to learn, more to do, and more to give! Those are some of the things I reflected on during my week at LeaderShape. I am so beyond thankful to have had this opportunity to learn, represent MSU, and meet student leaders from across the country! This experience is just one more reason I love Missouri State and the opportunities it offers students.”


On campus Caleb is just going into his sophomore year as an Organizational Communication major. He completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs programs his freshman year. Caleb also one Fraternity Freshman of the Year for FSL last year.  He is also very involved in other areas on campus serving as the philanthropy chair of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, a member of the 2014 Homecoming Committee, Social Media Manager for the Standard, a member of many other organizations, and has had awesome opportunities like interning for Claire McCaskill.

His top strengths are: Activator, Communication, Competition, Futuristic, and WOO.

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

“Completing the Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs programs has been a wonderful experience. I think what has had the biggest impact on me has been the connections with others. I know the friends I’ve worked with in these programs will be leaders on this campus for years to come. It inspires me to work with such great people – faculty and staff included.”

His advice to younger students:

“Everybody’s experience is unique and different. That in mind, my advice for younger students would simply be to figure out what you want out of Missouri State. Decide what you want to have accomplished in 4 years, then do it.”


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Courtney Pfluke shares her LeaderShape experience

image38Courtney Pfluke, a sophomore global studies major, had a very eye opening experience at the LeaderShape institute. Courtney completed the Distinction in Public Affairs program as a freshman and decided to strengthen her leadership skills and apply to attend the LeaderShape Institute. She currently serves as the Public Relations Specialist for the Opal Agency and the Secretary for the United Students for Fair Trade, both are areas she can really apply what she learned at LeaderShape. Here are some of her experiences from the week:

Day 2:

Today was an interesting day because we had the opportunity to do many different activities that really forced us to involve everyone in our group. I came to the realization that it is very easy to exclude someone from the conversation or planning about an activity and not realize that you are doing it. During our group activities, my group had judged a girl by her size and had thought that she could not lift something because she was so small. She ended up being able to do it without much of a problem. After discussing the activities in bigger groups, I feel more confident to be able to confront stereotypes and not just rise above them. I hope this will help lower discrimination in my future work place.

CourtDay 4:

Today we participated in a simulation that left most of us feeling disappointed, but more aware of how the world works. I personally feel disappointed with the amount of competitiveness and vindictiveness that was shown during the game, but was proud that in the end, we tried to create a more equitable situation. While debriefing in our Family Clusters, there was a lot of tension with everyone because we were all feeling different things and having problems expressing how we were feeling, but after talking through everything that had happened, we were able to come out of the situation feeling much better than we felt going into it.

Day 5:

This day was cool because after working hard to create different aspects of our visions we were able to put them all together today and actually start working towards an action plan for making our visions into our reality. We also received a ton of feedback from our family cluster members, which made me more aware of some of the things I was doing and how to change some of that behavior. It also gave me the chance to see the impact I was making on other people in my group. It was a very rewarding experience seeing everything we worked for come together and seeing the determination in everyone to make these visions into reality.



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LeaderShape participants have returned and Emily Cassimatis wants to share her amazing experiences!

image36Over the past two weeks, FIVE Missouri State students had the priveledge to attend the LeaderShape Institute in Champaign, Illinois. The LeaderShape Institute is a 6 day program that challenges participants to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values.  Participants explore not only what they want to do, but who they want to be. To learn more about LeaderShape visit www.leadershape.org.

Blake Shepheard, Emily Cassimatis, and Courtney Pfluke attended the first session July 20-25 and Caleb Hearon and Keslea Fink attended the second session July 27 – August 1. We asked them to jot down a few small journal entries while they were attending the institute so that we could share their experience.

Emily Cassimatis, a junior psychology major, says she learned a lot at LeaderShape and even developed ideas that she hopes to put in place on Missouri State’s campus in the future.  Here are some of her experiences:

Day 2- The Value of One, The Power of AllIMG_6384

“Today’s lesson was a surprisingly powerful one. It seems simple- realizing one person may have a special talent but applying it to a group setting, but it was more than just that. We had the opportunity to open up to one another in our family clusters, and I realized that today meant more than just realizing how one person’s talent could relate to a group; it meant that in order to be effective as a group all its members have to understand each other on a deeper level.  Today humbled me as I came to understand not only how privileged I was, but how those less fortunate than I am were doing so much more and were so much happier with much less than I could imagine.”

Day 3- Challenging What is, Looking to What Could Be

“Today we formed our “vision”- what our ideal world would look like. In my ideal world no one would have to pay for higher education. Anywhere. Can you imagine the power in that? I decided in order to make this vision a reality I could start working my “vision-magic” at MO State. My idea is to have a text book rental program that trades community service hours for free books. So a student could do 200 hours of community service for an agency approved by the school, and in turn they would get free book rentals (or at least deductions). Even that is a lofty goal! But if it could happen anywhere, it would happen at MO State. Ending the day proud to be a bear and excited to live in a state of possibility.”

Day 7- Now

“Now what? Leadershape was a powerful and exhausting experience. Through it I learned the tools to not only be a more effective leader, but a more effective dreamer. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” I have so many castles in the air, and I cannot wait to see what foundations this life provides me with.”

Missouri State University-Illinois-1

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