Missouri State University
Leadership Development Blog

LeaderBear Spotlight: Alyssa Cassidy

LeaderBear_AlyssaCassidyThis week’s LeaderBear has been taking her leadership skills across the globe. Alyssa Cassidy is a Senior at Missouri State and will graduate in December 2015.  She is studying Agriculture Communications and getting a minor in Viticulture and Enology.  Alyssa is also a part of the Accelerated Masters program for Plant Science. Some of her biggest accomplishments include being an Agriculture Ambassador in Taiwan, China, and Italy, and interning at Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery and VESTA (Viticulture and Enology, Science and Technology Alliance).  Alyssa has also earned a National Science Foundation Award and was a U.S. Agriculture Ambassador in the 2015 Worlds Fair in Milan, Italy.

When asked how our Centennial Leaders program impacted her, Alyssa responded:

“The friendships and connections that I have made with the students in the program as well as others involved have impacted me the most. It is because of these people that I have been able to take advantage of many different opportunities during my college career. The Centennial Leaders program allowed me to access my leadership abilities and encourage them to grow. It was because of this that I was able to become the leader I am today.”

Alyssa’s advice for younger students looking to get involved is:

“Start making connections with others the moment you step on campus. College is all about getting involved and creating new experiences so it is important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know what you might learn about yourself when you start creating friendships with those you might not have expected.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Cindy Umana

This week’s LeaderBear is spending a week this summer at LeaderShape, our brand new leadership program. Cindy Umana is a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law fraternity, which is quite fitting. Especially considering Cindy hopes to attend law school after her time at Missouri State University is finished. She is currently a Political Science major here at MO State. In addition to her involvement with Phi Alpha Delta, Cindy is also involved in Model United Nations. When she isn’t debating the fate of the United Nations, you might also find her debating on the Missouri State University Debate Team. Umana also takes time to be a part of Leading in Education to Approaching Latinos. She completed our Distinction in Public Affairs program and we got some of her thoughts on that:

“Distinction in Public Affairs provided a way for me to apply my knowledge of the Public Affairs mission to a problem area in the community of Springfield. In doing so I earned valuable problem solving skills and learned the value of compromise.”

Student leaders like Cindy truly make our programs incredible. Next year, you can get involved too! The Emerging Leaders program is for freshmen and sophomore students and takes place during the spring semester. Spring is also when Distinction in Public Affairs takes place. We thought Cindy might have some advice for younger students on getting involved:

“This quote from Nelson Mandela gets me through the day, ‘There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.'”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Chandler Classen

This week’s LeaderBear recently helped plan a demonstration for LGBT rights in downtown Springfield that nearly 1,500 Springfieldians attended. The event, #AllSpringfieldians, attracted attention from every major news source in the area. Chandler has completed both our Emerging Leaders and Distinction in Public Affairs programs as only a freshman on campus. This fall, he will complete our third program, Centennial Leaders, as a facilitator for freshmen scholarship recipients.

“The biggest impact is how close I was able become with other participants. Some of my best friends right now participated in these programs with me.”

Chandler is a Socio-Political Communication major set to graduate in 2018. He recently spent his Spring Break in Denver with his fraternity brothers. He and 8 other members of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) spent their week hiking and serving the Denver community through Habitat for Humanity. Chandler hopes to continue this passion for helping others by raising $7,500 for Make-A-Wish as FIJI’s Fall Philanthropy chair at their BBQ event with Alpha Chi Omega sorority. When he isn’t serving the community you might find Chandler hanging out with other Multicultural Leadership Scholars on campus. Or, you might see him giving campus tours to prospective students as a member of University Ambassadors. This fall he will also put on one of everybody’s favorite Homecoming Events, Decorate Downtown.

As a new student who has really taken hold of the opportunities Missouri State has to offer, and Fraternity and Sorority Life’s Outstanding Male Freshman, we asked Chandler what advice he has for younger students:

“Don’t think that just because your younger than other people it makes you less qualified to be in a leadership position.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: James DeGrief

This week’s LeaderBear is a Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture Education major from Michigan. When he came to Missouri State, James decided to  join Pi Kappa Phi. He also got involved with Student Government Association, FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) Ed, and Block and Bridle. The next semester, he was able to take on his first leadership roles. He was Secretary of FACS Ed and Service Chair for Pi Kappa Phi. During that semester is when he completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program and was initiated into Phi Sigma Upsilon. Then during his sophomore year, he was elected to serve as the Vice President and President of FACS Ed. He also held the positions of Philanthropy and Housing Chairs, as well as IFC (Interfraternity Council) and GAMMA (Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol) reps for Pi Kappa Phi.

He then ran for the executive board of GAMMA to apply some of the skills that he learned from Emerging Leaders. He was elected to serve as the Vice President of Programming and was able to hold two tournaments for fundraisers. During his term, GAMMA changed into FSLSA (Fraternity and Sorority Life Leaders of Social Awareness). He was able, with the help of the rest of the executive board, to bring the Clothesline Project to Missouri State.

Currently, James is Director of Social Awareness on IFC. He is able to take what he learned from Emerging Leaders and apply it to this position. One of the biggest things that he does for this position is serve as an advisor for FSLSA. How did our leadership program help prepare him for this role?

“One of the biggest things that I learned from these programs were my leadership strengths and the areas that I need to grow in. One of the biggest things that I learned from Emerging Leaders, was effective communication skills. I was able to further my verbal communication skills through the different sessions and activities that I participated in. I was also able to work with some other great leaders on campus.”

During Spring Break, James had the opportunity to attend his first Ability Camp. The Ability Experience, through Pi Kappa Phi, specializes in people with disabilities. Brothers of the fraternity from across the country join together in this event. This year James was at Camp ASCCA (Alabama Special Camp for Children and Adults). They were there making the camp more accessible to the campers. Some of the projects that the guys worked on were a fishing pier, hammock lounge, build new picnic tables, and tons of smaller projects.

While at the Ability Camp, James signed up for one of the summer programs that The Ability Experience offers, Build America. Next summer, 2016, he will be participating in a 6 week program, where he will go to 6 different camps for people with disabilities. While at these camps, James will be assisting camp councilors with their campers, as well as working on a project that the camp needs completed.

With all of this awesome work, we know James has some great advice for Missouri State students:

“Get involved and find your place at Missouri State. There is a place for every student here. Whether it be in Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Government, Student Activities Council, or any of our other 300+ student organizations.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Libby Shannon

This week’s LeaderBear has a heart for Missouri State. She is a University Ambassador, has been voted “Tour Guide of the Year”, and happens to be a 4th generation Missouri State Bear! Libby is a Special Education major who those on campus might remember as one of our amazing Homecoming Court members from this past fall. The Lutheran Student Center is one of many places on campus you might find this week’s LeaderBear. We asked her what participating in our Centennial Leaders program as a facilitator meant to her:

“The programs provided have introduced me to new people and ideas for communication and working on a team. The greatest impact has been learning how to identify the strengths of a group of people and then use them to do the best work possible.”

Ms. Shannon is a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and has served on her chapters’ Executive Board in the past. In addition to serving on Exec, Libby served as the Philanthropy Chairwoman in Gamma Phi Beta. Beyond her own chapter, she has worked hard to promote FSL as a whole. During 2014 Formal Recruitment you could find Libby working hard as a Panhellenic Counselor (Pi Chi). She currently serves in a big role as Panhellenic President which includes a a council of 12 women that oversee our sorority community of about 1,400 students. Every day she works with amazing members of the FSL community to promote strong leadership and positivity in all of their actions. Much of Panhellenic’s focus this year is to provide programs that are going to directly benefit members of the community while also promoting transparency in the actions of the governing council. This programming includes weekly leadership lessons, community-wide sisterhood events and educational speakers.

So – Libby, what’s your advice for younger students?

“Jump head first into any great opportunity! Don’t let anyone tell you “no” because you’re too young or inexperienced. And once it’s all said and done, do the best that you can, but also allow yourself to move on to bigger and better things. It might not matter that you didn’t raise all 500 dollars, but it will matter that you learned and grew from an experience.”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Dylan Myers

This week’s LeaderBear is a Special Education major expecting to graduate in 2017. Dylan has been involved with our Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program and currently serves as a Facilitator for that program. In this role, he helps our student participants grow and develop as leaders throughout their EL journey.

“What most impacted me about the Emerging Leaders program is the leadership I not only learned about myself, but the leadership I learned about others. It was a great experience to understand the differences each leader possesses and how to effectively and efficiently collaborate with each other to lead to the best of our abilities.”

Dylan also meets with a first grade student once a week for lunch through Big Brothers Big Sister of the Ozarks as a Lunch Buddy! Outside of just being great lunch company – he serves as a friend, mentor, and positive role model. He has a passion for youth and education. These interests came together in his role as Director of New Member Education for the Inter-Fraternity Council. In this role, Dylan worked hard to plan and execute New Member Day with his counterpart, review New Member Education programs from each chapter, advise Phi Sigma Upsilon, and collaborate with the IFC Executive Board on FSL issues. This wasn’t his first interaction with Phi Sigma Upsilon though. His freshman year he served as Director of Membership and Recruitment for that organization where he took charge of recruiting new members and dealing with membership concerns.

Dylan is a proud member of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity on our campus. He has served as their Campus Involvement Chair and Greek Week Chair. Additionally, Dylan has been a Recruitment Officer since his freshman year and is a current member of their Judicial Board. Beyond Pike – we’re pretty proud of his involvement with Headbands of Hope. As an ambassador for this program he volunteered his time to a One-for-One program which donated one headband to a girl battling cancer for each headband sold on campus. With lots of help he was able to give back to over 100 children battling cancer. His advice for younger students?

“I would advise younger students to explore their collegiate opportunities. College is the time for finding your passions and acting upon them. In college, self-growth is extremely important and you have to take risks if you want to grow. Don’t be scared to try something new and step outside of your comfort zone, for you never know where that opportunity will lead you.”


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LeaderBear Spotlight: Francine Pratt

Our #LeaderBear this week is the wonderful Francine Pratt. Mrs. Pratt graduated with a degree in Business Management and has worked with our Distinction in Public Affairs program here at Missouri State in the past. She currently works for the university as Executive Director of Multicultural Programs and the Multicultural Resource Center. For those who don’t know, the MRC is located behind Starbucks in the Plaster Student Union. This space is a great area for students to hangout, study, have conversations, and just generally be comfortable. On Tuesday of this week Springfield voters elected Pratt to the city’s school board! We are so proud to have her at Missouri State and representing us in the community.

In her position on campus Francine has worked with multicultural students to make improvements to the Multicultural Center and to promote a welcoming environment. She also hosts courageous conversations to help students, faculty and community members understand each either in regards to Ferguson and other related issues. Beyond our campus, Mrs. Pratt has worked with the community to obtain Lumina Foundation grant to increase access and equity to higher education attainment for historically underrepresented groups. Pratt is the advisor for MODES Bridge Springfield: Brother to Brother Program as well as a coach and mentor for several students on and off campus.

Her advice for students:

“Engage in more face to face conversations to enhance interpersonal skills. They will keep learning and taking in new information as long as they are on this earth. Therefore, listen, learn, analyze and act!”

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LeaderBear Spotlight: Jessica Albright

Marketing major and Centennial Leaders participant, Jessica Albright, is our LeaderBear this week! Jessica has plans to graduate from Missouri State in December 2016. During her time here she has served on President Clif Smart’s Special Task Force as a member of the Globalization Committee. Recently she was hired as a Pearson Campus Ambassador for MO State. Jessica works as the Taco Bell Campus Marketing Coordinator – a job she must be doing well considering the Taco Bell craze on campus! If you’ve heard about any of the amazing events Student Activities Council hosts on campus, you can give a little thanks to our LeaderBear this week! Jessica serves as the VP of Publicity for SAC. As if she isn’t busy enough, Albright is also involved in Student Government, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Phi Eta Sigma. We asked Jessica what about our programs has impacted her the most:

“Not only did Centennial Leaders teach you the traits of a good leader, but also let you find the traits of leadership within yourself through self-tests. I found out that my signature strengths are Achiever, Discipline, Communication, Strategic, and Focus. I had the opportunity to compare and contrast these with other members of the organization which was also a very interesting activity. Being able to assess these strengths makes you a better leader and a better team member. Centennial Leaders has made a big impact on my college experience.”

After finishing undergrad Albright plans to further utilize Missouri State’s incredible College of Business. Her plan is to pursue an MBA in International Management right here as a Bear! Before she heads off to the next adventure though, she’s got some time left on campus. We thought she could give a little advice to younger students:

“I would tell younger students to, pursue the opportunities that are made available to them. There are tons of opportunities at MSU, whether it be going to another country for a semester through study abroad, or joining a leadership program, these college experiences will impact your life years to come (hopefully in a good way!). I’ve had many positive experiences here at MSU, but they would have not happened if I would have not taken advantage of the opportunities. Also, follow your passion (not to be cliché with MSU’s motto) but MSU is the place to do that! You can join or start an organization centered on a cause that you care about, and then find other individuals that share that passion with you.”


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LeaderBear Spotlight: Savanna Stanley

Savanna is our #LeaderBear this week. She is a Agricultural Communication major expecting to graduate in 2017. During Savanna’s first year at Missouri State University, she was selected to be a facilitator for the Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration Program during the summer of 2014. She was one of only nine freshmen chosen for this honor. This opportunity allowed her to strengthen her communication skills involving families from a wide range of backgrounds. She was an ambassador for the university supporting the three pillars of the MSU public affairs mission: community engagement, cultural competence and ethical leadership. During that same time period, she was chosen as an emerging leader and participated in our very own Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Program. From this program she learned to effectively compliment a diverse field of co-workers. In addition to developing her leadership abilities, she also expanded her role in public relations relating to agriculture. From her speech class, she was selected to present at the Vicki Stanton Public Speaking Showcase. Her speech was titled “Organic vs. GMOs”. She has been published in the MSU Ag Review magazine and will continue writing articles about agriculture topics. Savanna is also working on reestablishing the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter on campus. She can’t wait to get this new club started to help our increasing amount of agricultural communications majors find their place on campus.

We asked Savanna to share a little advice for younger students. Here’s what she had to say:

“My advice to younger students would be to get involved in every organization that you are interested in and run with it! Find something that you are truly passionate about and make that the most important part of your life. Missouri State University has so many opportunities for students to get involved and I personally have grown so much through the Commerce Bank Leadership Program and through the SOAR leader position. I can’t wait to take on more leadership positions in the future!”




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LeaderBear Spotlight: Brad White

Our #LeaderBear this week is a PR major set to graduate next Spring. Brad participated in our Emerging Leaders program and has taken those skills with him to several other organizations and projects.

“This program [Emerging Leaders] taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a leader. I got the opportunity to learn what my personal strengths our and my weaknesses. This allowed me to develop my strengths more and work on my weaknesses. Also, I got the opportunity to work with other leaders to learn how I fit in a group and what roles I can take on based on my strengths to help the group succeed. I feel as though Emerging Leaders was a great stepping-stone for me during my freshmen year. It was a great building block for my college career and I can honestly say it is a reason that I am as successful and hard working.”

Currently, he is working hard to found a Best Buddies chapter on campus. Best Buddies is an international nonprofit centered around developing one-to-one friendships between individuals with and without Intellectual Developmental Disabilities. A chapter at Missouri State would be the first in the entire Show Me State. Brad got a quick start in campus leadership when he joined Phi Sigma Upsilon and served as their Fundraising Committee Head. He has also been very active in his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi (Pi Kapp). As Pi Kapp’s Recruitment Chair Brad helped usher in the largest new member class his chapter had ever seen at the time. After doing a spectacular job in that position he was elected his chapter’s Vice President where he oversaw recruitment in a new role.

Outside of his own chapter, Brad has served the FSL community as Greek Week Committee Philanthropy and Service Co-Chair. In this position Brad helped the FSL community donate 15,000 lbs of food to Ozarks Food Harvest and 400 items to Ronald McDonald House. Who better than such an involved leader to talk with new students? First year students may recognize Brad from SOAR last summer. He will serve as a SOAR Leader for the second time this upcoming summer and help welcome our new Bears to campus yet again. Chief Communications Officer for Student Government is another job Brad does on campus. We asked him to share a little advice for younger students:

“Missouri State University gives you the opportunity to develop yourself as a person and leader; all you have to do is take on those opportunities. Getting involved here on campus will allow for you to grow yourself more than you would ever imagine, and it supplements your college career. Leadership Development Programs are a great place to start to develop yourself as a leader to enhance your college career and make you a better candidate for jobs when you graduate.”



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