Missouri State University
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Missouri State University Alumni Association

Alumnus set to film inauguration trip with Chorale

The Missouri State Chorale will be performing during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, and Blake Richter, ’15, will be there to record it. Richter was chosen to accompany the Chorale as videographer and will document the historic event for future Bears. We caught up with him to find out how preparations are going.

What is it like knowing you have this chance for such a cool opportunity? Did you ever think you’d get to go to an inauguration?

I feel so blessed to be able to go on this incredible journey with the Chorale. Being an alum of the group makes it even more special. I’ve been wanting to travel to D.C. for quite a while now since I have never been there, but I never thought I would be going there to sit on the U.S. Capitol Building with the MSU Chorale during the presidential inauguration. It’s so crazy that this is real!

How were you chosen to do this work?

Blake Richter and Dr. Cameron LaBarr
Blake and Director of Choral Studies Dr. Cameron LaBarr. Photo credit: Blake Richter

I graduated from Missouri State with a Bachelor of Music Education and I am now the music teacher at Inman Intermediate in Nixa, MO. I also run my own business called Blake Richter Productions, which focuses on audio engineering, video production, and photography. Dr. (Cameron) LaBarr is a huge reason why my production company has been so successful. I started doing recordings for the Choral Studies Program about a year and a half ago and because of that, other choirs have had me record for them. I have worked alongside Dr. LaBarr for many projects and I’ve also done some recordings for his wife Susan, who is the editor of Walton Music. They have both recorded in my home studio as well. The day it was announced that the Chorale will be performing at the inauguration, I texted Dr. LaBarr congratulating him and he responded with, “So are you in?” About two weeks later, we sat down for coffee, talked through logistics, and it was official that I was going along to capture all of the behind the scenes footage of the trip.

Do you still know people in the Chorale?

Bass section of the Chorale
Blake and the bass section in 2015. Photo credit: Blake Richter

I know about half of the members in Chorale. I graduated in 2015, so some of the juniors and seniors were in Chorale when I was in it. I have also been a counselor for the Missouri State Choral Institute for the past two years, so I know some of the freshmen and sophomores through that experience.

The Chorale performs often. Is there a particular performance that especially stands out from your days singing at Missouri State?

The Chorale in Paris
Blake and the Chorale performed in Paris in 2012. Photo credit: Blake Richter
Blake and Dr. Guy Webb, director emeritus of choral activities. Photo credit: Blake Richter

I was a Baritone in the Chorale from August 2011-May 2015. During that time, we performed in Germany, Paris, Scotland, England, NYC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, St. Louis, Kansas City, and obviously the Springfield area. In 2014, we performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. That was the last time Dr. Guy Webb conducted the MSU Chorale after teaching at MSU since 1981. That was a very memorable and emotional performance. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the choir or in the audience.

Sen. Roy Blunt, chair of the inaugural committee, stunned the Chorale when he invited them to perform during the ceremony. Did you know before that? How did you react to hearing that you could get to go, too? 

Blake Richter with wife Kaitlyn in Paris
Blake and wife Kaitlyn after Chorale concert in Paris in 2012. Photo credit: Blake Richter

About a month before the big announcement, I received a phone call from Dr. LaBarr. He didn’t give me any information, but he said, “If I had an amazing opportunity for you, would you be able to take off 2-3 days of school?” I responded with, “Well, it depends on what the opportunity is, but knowing you and how excited you sound right now, it’s probably a pretty great opportunity.” When I heard the announcement, I had a feeling he wanted me to go along. Sure enough, after I texted him congrats, I found out that I was going to go too! I immediately told my wife, who is also an alum of the Chorale, and we both were so excited! It took a couple of weeks for me to fully grasp the idea of me going along on this historic journey. I still don’t think it has fully hit that I will be experiencing this.

The Chorale will be performing a send-off concert on January 14 at the Welcome Center on the Missouri State campus. All are welcome to attend.

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Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays can be a time of joy and happiness as you relax around a brightly lit Christmas tree. You’ve bought perfect presents and toiled selflessly over homemade candies. You can’t wait to drive six hours to Ames to enjoy drinking egg nog and catching up with your beloved brother and his wonderful little angels, age 4 and 7.

If this isn’t your family, read on for ideas about dealing with seasonal stress with a spoonful of encouragement from Mary Poppins.

Let’s go fly a kite: schedule activities

Christmas-themed coloring books on a table
Bring coloring books and markers to your next family dinner to keep kids (and adults) occupied.

You may not like spending time with your relatives. Whether due to differing political beliefs or child-rearing practices, it can be hard to stay calm around people who have known you the longest – and know how to push your buttons. Char Berquist, director of the Center for Dispute Resolution, offers some tips on keeping the peace by adjusting expectations and scheduling activities for kids.

The job’s a game: managing stress

students pet a puppy to relieve stress during finals week
Spending time with a furry friend can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

In addition to family dynamics, buying gifts and traveling can contribute to holiday tension. While it’s common to feel frazzled during this time, some know how to handle pressure better than others. Rhonda Lesley, director of the Counseling Center, explains why how you think about stress influences how you react to it:

“Some students have very full lives, but they are able to manage pressures well, partly because they choose to think optimistic/hopeful thoughts about their situation:

‘I have so many demands, and they will be winding down soon…I’m so busy and don’t feel I can keep up, but I love everything I’m involved in and I will somehow get it all done…I will make it…I know how to cope well…’  A different student with the same situation might think in more distorted ways:  ‘I have so many demands, and they’re going to ruin me…I’m so busy, and there’s no way out of this…I can’t do this…I’ll never be able to cope…”

Lesley also says that those who think optimistically will likely follow through on using good coping skills, while those who feel defeated by stress may respond negatively or even give up. She recommends healthy approaches like walks, time with friends, exercising, and intentional relaxation methods like deep breathing. Spending time with pets can also be soothing. The Counseling Center website includes links to additional helpful resources for anxiety and stress management.

Practically perfect in every way: reduce social media usage

students build snowman
Instead of scrolling status updates, use social media to make plans to get together with friends.

Social media can be another source of anxiety during the holidays. We want to check in with friends and see pictures of their kids, but idealized images of so-called perfect lives can contribute to negative feelings about ourselves. Checking social media too often can even contribute to feelings of depression. The most common effect could be the fear of missing out, or FOMO. Combat those feelings by using social media to schedule fun with friends. Besides, if your high school teammate’s life looks a little too much like a sappy diamond engagement ring ad, consider this.

Just a spoonful of sugar: eat healthily for better energy

Try layering tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil for an easy and delicious appetizer.

Diet can also affect stress management, and it can be hard to eat well when surrounded by piles of fudge and sugar cookies. While indulging is fun, a poor diet can cause lethargy at a time when you need stable blood sugar levels and lots of energy. Still, you know you shouldn’t live on peanut brittle for three days, but what to do when it’s right in front of you?

We reached out to Natalie Allen, dietetics instructor in the Biomedical Sciences Department, for help. She offered these tips for maintaining weight over the holidays, and a healthy recipe to get started:

  • Don’t skip meals and “save up” for the evening party. Instead, eat a balanced breakfast and lunch, and you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy party foods that evening.
  • Bring a healthy treat to the party so you know you’ll have at least one choice to eat.
  • Healthy, fun treats for a holiday party include: fruit kebabs (green grapes and red strawberries are festive at the holidays), veggie tray, hummus and pretzel thins, or black bean salsa and baked tortilla chips.
  • Drink water during the day. It’s easy to neglect healthy drinks when it’s not as hot outside, but water (try fruit flavored) is essential to good health.
  • Make it your goal to maintain, not lose weight, over the holidays. Be realistic -treats abound – and allow yourself a few splurges.
  • Track your steps. We tend to be more sedentary in the winter. By tracking your steps, you’ll be more likely to move and burn calories.
  • Watch alcoholic drinks because the calories add up fast.
  • Watch portions. Enjoy your favorite snacks, treats, cookies and appetizers … but in moderation.

Quite satisfactory: a recipe to get started

closeup of popcorn
Photo credit: Natalie Allen

This crunchy snack is a crowd-pleaser as it’s both salty and sweet. Hands-down, this recipe is everyone’s favorite at my house, especially among kids.  I often bring  kettle corn to holiday parties and it’s a huge hit.

Homemade Kettle Corn

Recipe Source:  Adapted from allrecipes.com

  • ¼ cup oil (canola works well)
  • ½ cup popcorn, unpopped
  • ¼ cup white sugar

Turn stovetop burner to medium/high heat.  Place heavy skillet on burner, add oil and 3 popcorn kernels.  Cover with lid and wait for those 3 kernels to pop.  Remove lid and add rest of popcorn, sprinkle evenly with sugar.  Put lid back on skillet.  Wearing an oven mitt, lift and shake the skillet occasionally over the next 2-3 minutes, to prevent the popcorn from burning.  Popcorn is done when popping slows, so time will vary.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt, as desired.

Makes approximately 8 cups popped kettle corn

Nutrition info per serving (1 cup):  85 calories, 7 grams fat

“The more you laugh
The more you fill with glee
And the more the glee
The more we’re a merrier we”

–  Mary Poppins

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Post-Graduation Tool Kit


Congrats, #BearGrads! You’ve stayed up all night studying, passed GEP 100, waited until 11:59 p.m. to turn in your assignments, and had ramen noodles and chicken nuggets for the last four+ years. It’s now time to strut your stuff across the stage and share your accomplishments with your friends and family. All the work you’ve done to get to this day has now paid off, and it’s time to start #adulting.

Heart Beat Board Thanks Mum and Papa Boardlettuce celebrate the world awaits

We’ve compiled a collection of resources to help you continue your success. You’re joining a network of over 110,000 Bears who have walked this path before you. Welcome alumni!

Once a Bear, always a Bear

MarooNation is the official Alumni Association of Missouri State University. We offer several ways you can stay connected with your alma mater:

  • Sign-up with our online community  to receive email updates and find out about dozens of networking events both online and in cities across the U.S.
  • Get updates on fellow alumni including information about the Bears of Distinction awards banquet in June, plus nominate someone you know.
  • You can also sign-up to join the alumni association council or apply for a position on the board of directors.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates from MSU.
  • Be sure to connect with fellow alumni on our LinkedIn group.
  • Finally, we offer travel abroad with fellow Bears and volunteer opportunities such as BearTalks.

students smile and wave after graduating

Looking for work?

Remember, you have search options right here at the university. The Career Center is a good place to start. If you are ready to apply for jobs, sign up for Job Tracks, where you can submit resumes online.

two women smile after graduating

Considering graduate school?

This can be a great way to learn additional skills and gain experience in competitive markets. Missouri State also has financing options such as graduate assistantships, which include paid tuition and a monthly stipend. Learn more by visiting the Graduate College.

students smile after graduation

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Tis the season to celebrate with fellow Bears!


Grab your BearWear and get ready for seasonal fun with your fellow alumni at MarooNation holiday parties in December. You can even bring your Bear cubs along! Where ever you are we’ve got you covered.

Kansas City MarooNation holiday party

D.C. MarooNation holiday party

  • Date: Dec. 4, 2016
  • Time: 6-8 p.m.
  • Location: The Loft at the Hamilton
  • Get registered today and make this event a holiday tradition with your fellow alumni; $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

St. Louis MarooNation holiday party

Chicago MarooNation holiday party

Happy Holidays!

Check out previous MarooNation events and follow us on flickr.

Missouri State University Foundation Holiday Party - Dec. 2015

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#BearGrads: Welcome to MarooNation!

Congratulations on your graduation, #BearGrads!

We’re excited to welcome you into the Alumni Association, which connects more than 110,000 alumni around the world with Missouri State University.

Graduation Giveaway

We invite #BearGrads to visit the Graduation Giveaway table during commencement week to receive a gift and to learn more about MarooNation. Graduation Giveaway will be available:

  • Dec. 12-15: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Maroon Nation store in the Plaster Student Union (PSU)
  • Dec. 16: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. across from the information desk in the PSU

Photos with the PSU BearPSU Bear photos

Celebrate commencement day with one of the most iconic Bears on campus.

Visit the Bear statue outside of Plaster Student Union to get your photo taken and to receive a free commemorative print. Photos will be available from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

Once a Bear, always a Bear

Wherever the future takes you, we encourage you to stay connected with Missouri State University.

Make sure you receive the monthly alumni newsletter, free copies of Missouri State magazine, invitations to alumni events and more by updating your contact information. You can also get the latest University news and connect with fellow graduates by following MarooNation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Once again, we congratulate you on your graduation and wish you all the best.

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Live-stream the Bears all season long on WatchESPN

Bears player drives tries a layup


Bears fans can catch all their favorite teams with the click of a button. All Missouri State athletic events are live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN) providing free streaming for Bears’ games all year long. Even if you travel the WatchESPN app streams all the games right to your device. So, grab your BearWear and cheer the Bears to victory, no subscription required.

Miss the season openers for the men’s and women’s basketball team? You can access games on WatchESPN for up to 30 days by clicking on the “Replay” tab and selecting the sports team you want. Plus you can search for upcoming broadcasts by selecting the “Upcoming” tab, the date, and the sport. Keep tabs on Bears action all season long by bookmarking the Missouri State athletics calendar. Go Bears!

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Support Missouri State projects through crowdfunding

Have you ever wanted to support a favorite Missouri State cause directly? Now you can through crowdfunding, which provides current students, faculty and staff a chance to raise capital and market their campaign to Missouri State and beyond. Students, faculty, and staff create pages with descriptions of causes, funding requests and deadlines. They post these on the Missouri State crowdfunding site.

As they develop goals, deadlines and marketing strategies they can fill out the Missouri State Crowdfunding Campaign Application. The project must be approved before it will go live. For more information on making your campaign a success, visit the Missouri State Foundation.

The Foundation is also sponsoring crowdfunding workshops on campus where people can get the tools they need to make thier campaign a success. The next two seesions are on November 11 and November 15. Sign-up soon because space is limited.

Current projects you can support

Community Involvement & Services at Missouri State is looking for funding support for two upcoming Bear Immersion trips where alumni and students work side-by-side in their communities. Eleven students are spending time in St. Louis on November 4-6 to learn about root causes of homelessness and hunger in the city. They’ll work alongside organizations dedicated to eliminating these issues. Alumni can also volunteer alongside these students on an urban organic farm, EarthDance, on Friday, November 4 from 12:45 – 4 p.m.

Donate St. Louis

A second group of eleven students are spending November 4-6 in Kansas City working with the Ronald McDonald House and the Upper Room, which provides academic support and music classes for children in the city. Alumni have flocked to this opportunity to volunteer with current students and this event is now full.

Donate Kansas City

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Philosophy alum begins judicial clerkship in Supreme Court of Missouri

8414smallThomas Limbrick ’13 is serving a two-year judicial clerkship with the Honorable Mary Rhodes Russell of the Supreme Court of Missouri. But he said it was earning a philosophy degree at Missouri State that helped prepare him for the rigors of law school and his burgeoning career. He credits mentors like Andrew Johnson and Jack Knight, whom he calls, “two of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

“My course on ancient philosophy with Dr. Knight made me unafraid to tackle complex and voluminous readings. All of my philosophy classes, particularly Ethics and Contemporary Issues and Philosophy of Religion with Professor Johnson, familiarized me with the Socratic method of teaching and forced me to constantly come up with rational arguments,” Limbrick said.

Limbrick knew he wanted to attend law school before beginning his undergraduate studies. While in law school he took advantage of semester and summer breaks to immerse himself in many different legal fields. After his first year of law school he spent the summer working at Armstrong Teasdale, where he gained experience with employment litigation, construction, medical malpractice, real estate and intellectual property litigation. These experiences helped Limbrick pinpoint his interests in employment and labor law.

But the opportunity to clerk caught his attention as soon as he began law school. Limbrick said the application process includes gathering recommendation letters, writing samples, resumé and transcript. Limbrick said some judges begin accepting applications when students are in their second year of law school, so it’s best to begin the process early.

“Many lawyers consider clerking for a year or two to be one of the best jobs – if not the best job – to get straight out of law school. It is a unique opportunity to work closely with a judge and see how the other side of the courtroom thinks,” Limbrick said.

After completing his clerkship in 2018, Limbrick plans to return to his hometown of St. Louis and practice employment and labor law.



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Guide to Veteran Student Services

img_1415_480x270Captain James T. Craig, who is retired from the U.S. Army, is the new Director of Veteran Student Services at Missouri State and he wants to make sure Veterans count.

He is encouraging current and former student veterans to get connected with the university in order to access special benefits. Captain Craig says there’s a real need to help student Veterans and alumni get all the resources available to them. The easiest way you can do that is by updating your information with the Alumni Association.

Update your information

Head over to the MarooNation Alumni Association site and update your contact to include Veteran status and your branch of service. This information will help keep you connected to Veteran Student Services and get you special information that pertains to Veterans.

Salute to Heroes

Veteran Student Services is also participating in the annual Salute to Heroes football game on October 29. Veterans can get discounted tickets, and there will be opportunities to mingle with current and former Missouri State Veteran students. During the game there will also be special recognition on the field.

Check out Missouri State Veteran Student Services for more benefits, including priority registration, free tutoring, and access to a Veteran student lounge.

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Encourage current students with BearTalks

Christy Dempsey headshot

Have you ever thought that you’d like to be in college again, but know what you know now? Now you can share that wisdom with current Bears.

The Alumni Association is searching for alumni who are available to speak with students for an hour during a group or organization meeting.

Christy Dempsey has done it. She recommends speaking for 30 minutes, leaving the second half of the hour open for questions, and says it’s easy to speak about your expertise, even to a group.

“It’s talking about yourself and what you do. You know it really well and can answer any questions students have for you – you’ve got it,” she said. “You can’t screw it up because it’s you. It’s not an exam.”

For Dempsey, chief nursing officer at Press Ganey, it’s a way to contribute to her alma mater in a more personal way.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Missouri State University; my children wouldn’t be where they are without Missouri State University. It’s important to me to give back not just financially, but with time and talents,” Dempsey said.

Hearing alumni speak can provide encouragement to current students, which Student Body Vice President Brianna Duda calls “priceless.”

“Hearing alum talk about their successes empowers us and reminds us that someday we will have success of our own. It also shows that they care about the university, even post-graduation,” Duda said.

Dempsey says she has to stay open to learning in the health field. That is where giving BearTalks helps her as much as the students.

“I’m a firm believer that if you want to improve you have to ask the people doing the work, (and) university students have a perspective we need to hear,” Dempsey said.

Give here

Give your talents a place to shine and impact the future. You select the areas of expertise you’d like to discuss and share your contact information. Next you’ll be contacted to confirm the topic, organization you’ll speak to and dates available. If you don’t live in the area, you can still speak to students via Skype or other options.

Show future alumni what it means to be a Citizen Bear with BearTalks.

Volunteer to be a BearTalks speaker

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