At the conclusion of the Fall 2014 semester the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) and Leadership Development Team said goodbye to an integral part of both areas, Dr. Marissa LeClaire Weaver. It is only fitting that we honor Dr. Weaver as this week’s LeaderBear. Marissa had been a part of the OSE at Missouri State for nearly 15 years when she made the decision to embark on a new journey in her life and pursue a career at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks as the Executive Vice President. As sad as it is that we must say farewell, we must express our upmost appreciation for her, as the legacy she leaves at Missouri State will not soon be forgotten. When asked about her experience she said, “working at MSU over the last 14 ½ years has been such an amazing journey. I always felt like the luckiest person to work with students who wanted to learn more about being a great leader.”
Marissa began her career pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Southeast Missouri State University. Upon graduation she went on to complete the Master of Science in Education for Counseling and Student Development program at Eastern Illinois University. After receiving her Master’s degree, it was on to her first full-time job, which happened to be at Missouri State University as the Assistant Director of Student Engagement for Greek Life. At this time there were 26 fraternities and sororities which Marissa advised. She stayed in this position for five years until a very unique opportunity arose.
In 2005 Marissa had the opportunity to create her dream job at the university, the Associate Director of Student Engagement. With this job she was able to create her own position and bring to the university her love of leadership. The leadership development area was born and with it came the creation and implementation of the three leadership programs that we still use today. Marissa created from the ground up the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program (2003), the Centennial Leaders Scholarship program (2005), and the Distinction in Public Affairs program (2010). For anyone who has been through our programs you know this involves creating the curriculum and organization of the programs as well as developing all of the skill building activities that are implemented throughout the sessions. Through the years each of these programs grew to great success and have become very sought after. This year over 175 students applied for the Emerging Leaders program alone. None of this would have been possible without Marissa’s hard work and dedication.
Her dedication to leadership does not stop there. She does everything from serving as the president of the Parent & Teacher Organization at her daughter’s school to being a victim advocate at the Victim Center. Here are some of the other accomplishments and positions Marissa has had during her 15 years at Missouri State:
- Member of the Leadership Springfield Board of Directors (8 years)
- Received the Springfield Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award (2010)
- NASPA Rising Star Award recipient for Missouri
- MSU Master in Student Affairs Outstanding Practicum Supervisor (2013)
- Presenter and Facilitator at multiple national conferences including ALP, AFLV, UIFI, St. Louis Gateway Leadership Conference, and more
- Member and chair of numerous university advancement committees
- Director of Leadership at People Centric Consulting
- High and low ropes course facilitator at Leadership Ranch
- Member and Advisor Trainer for Delta Delta Delta Fraternity
In 2012 Marissa completed her Doctorate of Education degree in educational leadership from the University of Missouri and became Dr. Marissa Weaver. During her time at the university Dr. Weaver was one of the most inspiring and influential staff members there. She would always push students to be the best they could be whether she was serving as their supervisor, advising them, or teaching them. Students loved the opportunity to work with her because she went above and beyond her expected role. Students would walk away with numerous skills they would use in the future, a great networking connection, and a feeling of being a more well-rounded individual.
When asked what the enjoyed most and will take with her from her time working at the university she said:
“One of the best parts of my job was connecting with students when they were just a freshman and watching them evolve over the years. Not only seeing them step into various leadership roles, but staying in touch after they graduated has been really fun. I love helping people become more successful. This was a great fit in my position at MSU, but it is also a great fit for me at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks. We help children realize their potential and build their futures. We also help the mentors grow and make our community better.”
Marissa’s most prominent strength was definitely the maximizer strength. It was a running joke that anything you collaborated on with Marissa or ask for her advice on would get instantly “maximized.” But this pushed people to do their best possible work and is one of the main reasons everyone enjoyed working with her. Her other top five strengths include; arranger, individualization, significance, & command. People that know Marissa at all will tell you how big of an advocate she was of strengths and how much she used them in everything she did.
Here are two last pieces of advice Marissa wanted to share with students:
“Know how to market yourself-The students who get selected for positions, awards, etc. are not necessarily better than the ones who don’t. The key is to be able to explain your strengths and how they connect to what it is that you are applying for at the time. It sounds simple, but speaking from experience, very few people do this. Don’t say you are organized, talk about a time that you organized a project similar to what they are looking for.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions-Seriously. Faculties, staff, leaders, whoever, love to engage with others that are interested in what they are interested in. For instance, you may see a job that you would like to possibly have one day. Ask the person if you could sit down with them sometime and learn about their position and journey. You will not only learn a lot but make an invaluable connection in that area.”
Although Marissa will be greatly missed in the Office of Student Engagement at Missouri State, she is not gone for good. She will still be teaching a leadership class at the university and will surely stay involved behind the scenes. Her former colleagues are very excited and happy for this new journey Marissa is embarking on. We are thankful for everything she did for our office, Missouri State, and each one of us individually. She inspired each one of us with her passion, and that is what will be missed the most. So farewell Dr. Marissa LeClaire Weaver and good luck on everything you do!