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Public Affairs January Staff Spotlight: Scott Schneider

Scott SchneiderScott Schneider

Director, Business and Support Services, West Plains Campus

Scott embodies the public affairs mission through his numerous volunteer efforts in the West Plains community.  A passion to help and mentor children, as well as the citizens of his community, he serves on several boards including the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of West Plains and Ozark Independent Living, which provides services to those with disabilities.  Scott takes on many roles to help ensure that programs and services remain viable and available to those in need.

Since 2009 Scott and his family has served as a host family for exchange students through the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program where he also assists as a Counselor and main point of contact for students while in the U.S.  And if you happen to miss seeing Scott on MSU’s campus, you can also find him volunteering with the local school band or in church as a youth group driver and children’s leader!

For his commitment to community engagement, ethical leadership and cultural competence, we are pleased to honor Scott Schneider as the January 2017 Staff Public Affairs Spotlight!

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Public Affairs Staff Spotlight: A’dja Jones

November Staff SpotlightA’dja Jones

Academic Counselor, Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Academic Achievement Center

“Giving back to others brings fulfillment and meaning to my life” says A’dja Jones.  A’dja first began community volunteer projects in high school, which continued through her MSU college career as a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha.  She says that over time she has come to understand how important even small actions of volunteerism are toward impacting specific local programs or even larger issues within a community.

Helping to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect is a personal passion of A’dja’s.  After researching the Springfield area, she found Isabelle’s House to be a perfect fit.  In June 2016 she committed to volunteering three hours per week.  Whether it’s helping with homework or giving hugs, she is able to help families and children in crisis feel safe, secure and healthy during their stay at Isabelle’s House.

In addition, A’dja has volunteered as a trained Victim Impact Panel facilitator with The Center for Dispute Resolution.  This program benefits young people who have committed nonviolent property or assault offenses by helping them gain valuable insights and empathy for how their crime has impacted the victim, their families and the community.

In 2015, A’dja was presented with the ultimate opportunity to give of herself and help another.  Having listed her bone marrow in the national registry just a year earlier, she was successfully matched to a young boy with leukemia and subsequently provided him a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.  She has now become a strong advocate for bone marrow donor registration, and is called upon by multiple groups and organizations for in-person and radio interviews in support of bone marrow registration drives and becoming listed in the national registry.

For all her contributions and dedication to living the public affairs mission, we are proud to recognize A’dja Jones as the November 2016 Staff Public Affairs Spotlight!

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Public Affairs Spotlight: Dr. Ashley Leinweber

Dr. Ashley Leinweber

Assistant Professor, Political Science Department

Dr. Ashley Leinweber, Assistant Professor of Political Science, has used the public affairs mission as a guidepost for teaching, research and service on campus, in the Springfield community and beyond.

Stemming from her passion of African studies and international politics, she began serving as a Congo expert in human rights asylum cases in 2013.  Her pro bono work includes reviewing legal documents, conducting research, writing expert affidavits and testifying via phone and in-person about country conditions, human rights abuses and the merits of the particular asylum request.  Ashley says “This work is very time consuming and emotionally difficult, but I am grateful to serve in this capacity. My greatest reward so far was a Congolese university professor being granted asylum on my birthday.”

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa from 2002-2004, Ashley became actively engaged in reviving the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) group here in Springfield.  As a group they meet monthly and volunteer time together within the community.  Ashley coordinates local members and events, and serves as a liaison between other Missouri RPCV groups and the regional recruiter in St. Louis.

Public Affairs is honored to recognize Dr. Ashley Leinweber as October’s Faculty Public Affairs Spotlight!

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October Staff Spotlight: Alisa Garbisch

Alisa GarbischAlisa Garbisch

Assistant Director, Residence Life-Student Success Initiatives, Residence Life Housing & Dining Services

Since 2010, Alisa has been serving in Springfield as a Volunteer Advocate at The Victim Center.  In that position she says, “it’s my job to show compassion, provide resources, offer services, and assist the victim to see hope.”  She responds to crisis calls received on a 24-hr hotline extending emotional support, crisis intervention, accompanying victims to the hospital after an assault and assistance with Ex Parte Orders of Protection.  Volunteers are required to attend agency training.

Moving to Missouri to work at MSU, she sought opportunities to get connected with her new community, and found the Victim’s Center’s mission to be near and dear to her heart.  While living and going to school in Wisconsin, Alisa began cultivating a passion for helping those affected by domestic violence.   Through the years she has made the most of sexual assault education, prevention and advocacy opportunities and volunteering at local domestic violence shelters.

The Victim Center serves men, women and children of all ages who have been victims of violent or sexual crimes.  Violence knows no boundaries, is not discriminatory, and is found in all socio-economic levels.  Alisa states, “the opportunity to serve others, give hope, and show compassion during what could be an individual’s darkest time of their life, is why I give of my time to this amazing organization.”

We are proud to recognize Alisa Garbish as October’s Public Affairs Staff Spotlight!

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MSU Talks explores the two party system

Student members of the MSU Holt V. Spicer Debate Team will explore the 2016-17 public affairs theme in debate format.  Debaters will present researched arguments that address policy or issues regarding rights and responsibilities as citizens in a modern democracy.  Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and make their own suggestions regarding the stated position(s).

Tuesday, 4 pm Meyer Library 101

Check out the video.



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Six ways to get involved at Public Affairs Week

Public Affairs Week takes place Sept 12-19. Here are some highlights.

Tuesday: Reading of the Constitution Preamble & Bill of Rights

Free country? Free stuff. Stop the PSU North Mall at noon and hear President Clif Smart read the Preamble to the Constitution. Other members of the campus community will read the Bill of Rights. Kick off Public Affairs Week and remember to pick up your free T-shirt and pocket Constitution. This is a great way to learn about our democracy and stay informed this election season.

students gather by the PSU bear

Tuesday-Thursday (all day): Voter Registration Drive

Don’t think you make a difference? Don’t like either main-party candidate?  Don’t know where your polling place is? It’s easy to get discouraged and feel like it doesn’t matter if you participate. But voting can inspire you to study issues in your community. Then you can start looking for solutions. You can register at the PSU South Mall or in the Meyer Library library.

avenue of flags

Wednesday: Civic Engagement Conference

This conference will include panel discussions on the theme “Democracy in action: addressing social change through civic engagement:  What do we do about poverty in Springfield? How can people at Missouri State help the community here? How do you talk with people and learn to listen to their ideas respectfully? This panel is about deliberative dialogue,  a way to discuss ideas in small groups.

students listen to panel discussion

Thursday: SAC presents: Student Dialogue Event

Want to talk to your fellow students face to face instead of just trading updates on Facebook? Tired of angry tweets and debates? It’s easier to speak to each other with respect when you can see each other. This presents a chance. Led by students, this event gives everyone a chance to reflect on challenges they face in society and on campus.

students chat on campus

Saturday: Into the Streets

Need service hours for your Greek organization? How about extra credit for a class? Want to help out the community on a beautiful fall day? Volunteer for this annual all-day event. You can sign up with a group or by yourself. Serve others and make a difference today!

students clean fairbanks school

Monday: “How interfaith dialogue and awareness informs us as citizens and people of faith.”

Wish you could understand the faith of others? Want to be able to talk to people of other religions with respect for their traditions? Ms. Usra Ghazi will discuss her work in interreligious engagement in the U.S. and all over the world. She was born in Pakistan and raised in Illinois. She now works in the State Department.

Ursa Ghazi

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May Staff Spotlight: Darren Young

DarrenYoungDarren Young

Technical Support Specialist, International Programs

With 20 years of service to MSU, Darren’s passion to build cultural competency goes beyond working with international and domestic students.  For the last 15 years Darren has taken summer vacation to volunteer as Camp Coordinator for the Diggins Apostolic Church youth camp.  Over 300 nationwide campers ranging from 7-20 years old come for the week-long camp.  Darren oversees all aspects of daily operations, managing the front office, directing more than 40 volunteers and 6 department heads, coordinating meals and stocking the camp’s store — all the while ensuring campers are having the time of their lives.  Darren says, ‘the goal of our youth camp is to equip young people with a strong biblical knowledge, help others that are in need, and have an unforgettable week of fun.”

We are proud to recognize Darren Young as May’s Public Affairs Staff Spotlight for implementing and modeling the pillars of public affairs to today’s youth!

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May Student Spotlight: Cory Keith

Student SpotlightCory V. Keith

Senior: Environmental Plant Science, Darr School of Agriculture; Greenhouse Student Worker; Campus Garden Manager; Anson Elliot Citizen Leadership Award.

Cory has a passion for all things outdoors, especially urban agriculture.  This passion led to a major in plant science, which he says, “is an exciting field since plants are at the base level for all higher life, and cultures across time, are developed in relation to land and food sources.”

Cory is a great example of how students combine their passions and academics to have an impact in their community.  Dedicating many hours to several sustainability activities such as the Campus Garden, the Greenhouse, and the University’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, Cory also volunteers his time with grant writing.  The Cultivating Campus Sustainability: MSU HydroFood and Karls’ Hall Greenhouse: Energy Waste Reduction are two grants that Cory has developed, in conjunction with faculty and others, and presented for funding.  Through a hydroponic food garden, the HydroFood Project partners with Chartwell’s, Residence Life and the Darr School of Agriculture to provide local food sourcing for students, grown at Kentwood and cared for by student interns.

Whether it’s accomplished in committee, digging in the dirt, or through the pen, Cory rises to the challenge of reducing our ecological footprint.  For his contributions and ethical leadership to create a sustainable impact on and off campus, we are pleased to recognize Cory Keith as the May 2016 Public Affairs Student Spotlight.

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Healthy communities: Reflecting on the 2016 public affairs theme

An action-packed Public Affairs Conference approaches, featuring inspiring individuals such as health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels, who positively promotes this year’s theme: Healthy Communities: Body, Mind and Spirit.

Dr. Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirk, provost fellow for public affairs, reiterates that this concept, as well as MSU’s public affairs mission, is relevant to all of us.

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Five reasons you should join the Public Affairs Conference

Citizen Scholar

With more than 30 events slated for the 2016 Public Affairs Conference, the schedule provides a diverse list of opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the public. But while we could simply put the options in front of you and say, “Here ya go,” we’d like to explain why the conference matters, and why you should take some time to join us on campus April 5-8.

The conference has something for everyone. Presenting five reasons you should experience the PAC in 2016:

Meet nationally recognized experts

This year, you’ll hear from professors from Boston College and Harvard, a senior adviser to a presidential campaign and the CEO of CoxHealth, among others. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of a few folks whose names you might recognize:

  • Barbara Bush
  • Maura Cullen
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Toshia Shaw

All of them were plenary speakers at previous Public Affairs Conferences. Basically, you’re going to learn from the best.

Engage with Jillian MichaelsJillian Michaels

The fitness expert and TV personality won’t only be here for her keynote address at JQH Arena. You also have a chance to meet her beforehand.

Enjoy more than just speeches

The conference brings far more to the table than just people speaking from a podium. You might be interested in getting involved in other ways, such as the Body-Mind-Spirit Wellness Walk, the Field of Memories or Show-Me Chefs Show Us How.

These are opportunities to become actively engaged in your community and meet people with similar passions for the #CitizenBear mission.

Share your experience worldwide

While you’re participating in the conference, use the #CitizenBear hashtag on your social media channels to join the digital discussion. Posts that include the #CitizenBear hashtag are pulled into a Tagboard.

Check out the campus in springHammons Fountain

We’re proud of our campus, and it looks spectacular in April. So please take some time, walk around and enjoy features such as the John Q. Hammons Fountain, new facilities such as the Davis-Harrington Welcome Center and O’Reilly Clinical Health Sciences Center and the renovated Plaster Stadium.

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