Missouri State University
R.E.A.L. Review
A publication for current and former R.E.A.L. Bears

Welcome Home: A Recap

Homecoming is an annual tradition of Missouri State and it’s particularly special for R.E.A.L. Bears who get the opportunity to volunteer for a multitude of Alumni Association events throughout the weekend. A few members took the time to write about their experience volunteering for a few events.

Summer Holmes, the vice president of internal programs wrote, “Competition filled the air during Homecoming week. One of the events R.E.A.L. Bears participated in was Office Decorating. R.E.A.L. Bears decided to decorate the Alumni Center Hospitality Room. The process started off slightly rough. The materials purchased were not working as needed. However, members involved did not give up; instead, they brainstormed to come up with a new plan. At the end, the tracings of Carrington and Missouri State were completed. Balloons were expanded and written with “Welcome Home.” Streamers were strung throughout the bottom windows. Bears were artistically drawn on the doors. The Hospitality Room was ready for Homecoming!” Unfortunately, the R.E.A.L. Bears did not win the competition, but it contributed to the school spirit for Homecoming.

Friday night, the Alumni Association hosted the Welcome Home Reception in the newly built Davis-Harrington Welcome Center. Holmes discusses the benefits of attending the Welcome Home Reception,  “It’s always a favorite event to volunteer for during Homecoming. The food, the people, and the setting always allow an amazing chance to network and share your passion for the university. R.E.A.L. Bear members get the chance to talk to alumni about what the organization does and what they are studying at the university. This year, the Welcome Home Reception was even better than the last. The delicious food had a little something for everyone. The presentation included the Be A Bear t-shirt sales and donation to the Emergency Scholarship Funds; oohs and aahs filled the room with the donation and flattering design of the shirt. Many alumni in attendance exclaimed on the desire to gain one of the t-shirts before the final batch sold out. One R.E.A.L. Bear member shared her pleasure at the end of the reception with the chance to exchange business cards and to gather information on her potential career choice with alumni. Others shared similar experiences and left with smiles on their faces. The Welcome Home Reception will always be a favorite and highly attended event for R.E.A.L. Bears.”

The next morning, R.E.A.L. Bears woke up at the crack of dawn to attend breakfast events with alumni. Senior member, Caitlin Harris described her time volunteering for the event “There was not a big requirement of the volunteers at this event. I was asked to collect tickets at the food line. While collecting tickets I was able to admire the excitement of all the young children as they fill their plates with kid approved food. The best part was seeing how excited they got when Boomer was in the room. It was a neat experience as a student, to see alumni being involved with their alma mater and wanting to share the Missouri State experience with their children.” Some R.E.A.L. Bears went on to enjoy the rest of their Homecoming week. For some that included volunteering at the skyboxes.

Miranda O’Connell describes the skyboxes at the Homecoming football game. The skyboxes were definitely feeling the homecoming spirit this year. A good number of alumni came back for the weekend, from both near and far. The skyboxes were full of past football players, important professors, future Bears, and even Senator Roy Blunt made an appearance. Although the Bears came short of a win, those who were rooting for them never lost their enthusiastic, passionate, and lively energy.”

R.E.A.L. Bears volunteer every year at Homecoming to support its sponsor, the Missouri State Alumni Association. As undergraduate students, we look forward to visiting the campus for Homecoming in the future.

Abby Morrow, Vice President of Marketing
Abby Morrow, Vice President of Marketing
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Bear Pride. Wear it Proud. Design it Now!

The Be a Bear T-shirt project was introduced on March 17, 2016 by R.E.A.L. Bears, the Missouri State Alumni Association, and the Missouri State Bookstore. The shirt sold for $19.05 to commemorate the university’s founding. To support the university’s public affairs mission, proceeds from the Be a Bear T-shirt were donated to the MSU Student Emergency Scholarship Fund to support students who encounter unforeseen, life-altering experiences that inhibit them from continuing their education. Each year, a new design will be released on the university’s birthday (March 17) and be retired at Homecoming. Sales for this year’s t-shirt ended on Homecoming weekend, October 15. Missouri State students and alumni raised almost $10,000 for the Emergency Scholarship Fund!

A design contest is currently open for the 2017 Be a Bear shirt. Students are submitting their creative designs, so they could see their design walking around campus; there is also a chance to win great prizes. Once the contest closes, a panel of Missouri State staff, alumni, and students will choose the winning design. The winner will be notified in January and the new design will debut on March 17 for all to purchase. Be sure to get your Be a Bear shirt next year before they retire at Homecoming! 


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President’s Post

My name is Ali Jemes and I am the president of R.E.A.L. Bears. I am currently a senior majoring in religious studies with a minor in sociology. My goal is to work in a nonprofit that helps children or students. I joined the organization as a sophomore looking to find my place at the university, which I had yet to do. R.E.A.L. Bears has taught me many things, including how to lead different personalities and how to be an effective communicator. I had no plans of becoming president when I first came on board, but it has been a rewarding experience thus far.

I started off the presidency with a trip to CASE ASAP over the summer. This is the student advancement group conference that we attend to gain knowledge and advice from other organizations similar to ours. We brought back many ideas regarding student philanthropy, as well as membership recruitment ideas. Based on what we learned, we plan on continuing to grow our student philanthropy events, modify our executive council, and improve our retention of members. I did not realize how many great student alumni association groups with great ideas that we could learn from prior to attending the conference!

As I look back over this semester, I am really proud of what our group has accomplished. We continued with committees this year and they have all worked hard to grow their place within the organization. The philanthropy committee planned Giving Tuesday this year on November 29 and will launch the Change for Change Campaign in the spring, with the goal of educating students on why it is important to give back to our university. The Birthday Party Committee has been hard at work growing the event for the spring, as well. Both marketing and membership committees have worked on growing our presence on campus as well as improving our recruitment process. I look forward to what they will do in the coming semester.

As an organization, we participated in Homecoming. For the first time we made a banner for the competition in the Plaster Student Union and, as we usually do, assisted the Alumni Association with their events, like Breakfast with Boomer and the tailgate. We also participated in the Welcome Home Reception, including accepting a check from the Bookstore for the Be a Bear T-shirt. Hosting the skyboxes during the Homecoming game rounded out the weekend as always. The boxes are one of my favorite activities that we do as an organization.

As president, I have really enjoyed growing my leadership skills and seeing changes within the organization and know there will be more throughout spring. I hope we will see a jump in recruitment this semester, a successful birthday party, and a great kick off of Change for Change. 

Ali Jemes, R.E.A.L. Bears President
Ali Jemes, R.E.A.L. Bears President
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Recommend a future R.E.A.L. Bear

My name is Taylor Juenger and I currently serve as a graduate assistant for the Missouri State Alumni Association and as advisor to R.E.A.L. Bears. As an undergraduate student, I was very involved with R.E.A.L. Bears and held a few leadership positions within the organization. I returned to work with R.E.A.L. Bears because I believe this organization gave me the skills to be successful after graduation, and I value what the organization brings to campus. R.E.A.L. Bears offers many great learning opportunities for students, such as networking in the skyboxes and at alumni events, the opportunity to collaborate on major projects like the Missouri State Birthday Party and plan educational programs, through programs like Giving Tuesday. I loved my undergraduate experience at Missouri State; R.E.A.L. Bears played a large role in that. As I complete my graduate assistantship and program, I’m thankful for my time within the organization and hope that the organization continues to grow and develop more students into emerging alumni leaders. 

To my fellow R.E.A.L. Bears alums, we are seeking new members for this wonderful organization. Potential members should have a passion for Missouri State, are accountable and looking for leadership opportunities during their undergraduate experience and as they transition into alumni of the university. If you would like to recommend a student(s) for R.E.A.L. Bears, please fill out this quick Google form.  On behalf of R.E.A.L. Bears, we thank you for your continuous engagement and dedication to the organization.

Taylor Juenger, R.E.A.L. Bears Advisor
Taylor Juenger, R.E.A.L. Bears Advisor
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After the familiar Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, falls Giving Tuesday, a nationally recognized day of giving. A day dedicated to giving back, after a weekend of shopping.

Last year, student philanthropy was a new focus for R.E.A.L. Bears. We were given the task of educating students on what it means to give back to the university while still a student. Giving Tuesday in 2015, was one of the first opportunities R.E.A.L. Bears had to share this idea with Missouri State’s students. While this is the second year that R.E.A.L. Bears is tackling student philanthropy education, it still one of the main focuses of the organization, making our goals for Giving Tuesday this bigger and better.

Giving Tuesday was on November 29th this year and the event took place in the Plaster Student Union from 11am-2pm. This event served two purposes. The first being to educate students on what their tuition dollar covers. R.E.A.L. Bears volunteers handed out cookies to students that had a third of the cookie cut out. This  presented the opportunity to explain to students that the tuition they pay only covers a portion of the cost it takes for them to get an education at Missouri State. The missing portion represented private donations.

The second purpose Giving Tuesday was to spread the word of our “Change for Change” campaign that will begin in the spring semester. During this campaign, coin banks will be distributed to students who are encouraged to donate their spare change to university fund of their choice. To demonstrate how it is to be a donor, there were a few jars at the Giving Tuesday booth, each representing popular funds that students could choose to donate their spare change. 

The student philanthropy committee, which consists of the committee chair, the vice president of philanthropy, and several R.E.A.L. Bears members, has been planning Giving Tuesday since the semester began in August. The ideas started big, and many obstacles were tackled along the way, but a final plan came together, and a goal of reaching 200 students was made and reached. The ultimate goal of this event was to educate students on the impact of donors. We could even go one step further and say that the goal of this Missouri State edition of #givingtuesday was to spread the value of giving.


Caitlin Harris, Student Philanthropy Committee Chair
Caitlin Harris, Student Philanthropy Committee Chair
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New Student Spotlight

CalebName: Caleb McMurtrey

Major: Computer Information Systems

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Willard, MO

Why REAL Bears: Caleb joined the organization because he had heard about the organization from Stephanie Matthews, the former R.E.A.L. Bears staff sponsor. He wanted to develop his leadership skills and more specifically his networking skills. He thought REAL Bears would provide him with opportunities to improve upon those skills as well as how to better equip himself for the workforce.






MirandaName: Miranda O’Connell

Year: Freshman

Major: Exercise & Movement Science

Hometown: Moscow, Idaho

Why I chose REAL Bears: Miranda wanted to get more involved with Missouri State, and she thought REAL Bears was a different and unique way to do so. Not only does REAL Bears work with students, it also works with alumni, and with that you get to see all different layers of the University and you get to meet people you wouldn’t meet any other way. It really shows how important alumni are to our campus, and she wanted be a part of that.






SethName: Seth Durham

Year: 2018

Major: Cell & Molecular Biology

Hometown: Belleville, Il

Why you chose REAL Bears: Seth chose REAL Bears because he saw an excellent way to involved on our campus. He thought the variety of opportunities to grow leadership skills, meet new people, and learn from successful alumni is what makes REAL Bears an extraordinary organization.







Name: Monique Fahy

Year: Freshman

Major: Elementary Education with an emphasis in Math

Hometown: New Madrid, MO

Why you chose REAL Bears: Monique’s roommate Ryan joined at the beginning of the semester and told her about the organization. She thought it was great to keep alumni in contact with Missouri State and network with people who have previously been a student at the same

University. Monique believes in our mission completely; this organization will help her gain important leadership skills while also providing a close group within the membership





BeccaName: Becca Raney

Year: Sophomore

Major: Communication, Minor in Leadership

Hometown: Harrison, AR

Why you chose REAL Bears: Becca chose REAL Bears for many reasons. Her minor is leadership and she wanted to join an organization that would allow her leadership skills to grow;obviously something with “leader” in the title was a good fit. Becca also chose REAL Bears for the alumni aspect. Networking is very important to her so this gave her a great opportunity to do that. When she came to the informational night for REAL Bears, everyone was so kind and friendly and fun and she knew this organization would be a great fit for her!





Name: Jhansi Kesireddy (not pictured)

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Major: Computer Science

Why you chose R.E.A.L Bears: As a freshman, Jhansi always wanted to get into something that improved her leadership skills, something that develops her as a person, and something that enhances her American accent. While going through the organizations, I found R.E.A.L Bears to be something that is gonna fill all her blanks. Also, she really loves to listen to our alumni who uplift her in all possible different ways.

Ali Jemes, R.E.A.L. Bears Historian
Ali Jemes, R.E.A.L. Bears Historian
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Be a Positive Change

R.E.A.L. Bears strives to uphold values befitting to community engagement. To do so, the group participates in numerous volunteer opportunities every year. R.E.A.L. Bears are required to engage in at least one philanthropy or community service event each semester. Members view this activism throughout the community as a valuable building block for personal development. Not only do members get to spend time with other members they have grown close to, but they also get to brighten the lives of others. R.E.A.L. Bears contributes to well-known charities and volunteer efforts, while they also work with the Springfield community and the University.

R.E.A.L. Bears is an organization that makes sure to give back a great deal to the community that fosters them. Perhaps one of the most familiar events they help with is the fundraising and participation with Relay-4-Life. R.E.A.L. Bears have hosted bake sales in the Alumni Center and sales of various products on the Relay-4-Life night to help raise funds for cancer research. Another area that R.E.A.L. Bears has given back to the community is through Adopt-A-Street. For this program, the organization cleans up a road that we have “adopted.” This helps to keep Springfield beautiful and environmentally healthy. At the end of the fall semester, R.E.A.L. Bears funded Angel Tree as well. This is a program that gives Christmas presents to children and families in need based off of a list that the family provides. R.E.A.L. Bears raised money within the membership and shopped for these items to donate.R.E.A.L. Bears is an organization that makes sure to give back a great deal to the community that fosters them.

R.E.A.L. Bears also has volunteered at The Gardens,  an independent living home for seniors. Before Christmas break, a few members went to decorate for Christmas at The Gardens. Residents would come to talk to the R.E.A.L. Bears as they decorated the upstairs trees; they were extremely appreciative for the help in readying the building for the holidays. R.E.A.L. Bears also played Bingo at The Gardens, which was a fun time for both the R.E.A.L. Bears and the residents. The residents were welcoming and very engaged. It was a memorable experience for the R.E.A.L. Bears and hopefully the residents too.

Volunteering reaps an equal amount of rewards and benefits, if not more, to the work you put into it. R.E.A.L. Bears participated in a lot of worthwhile causes this semester. Therefore, they have gained a lot of perspective from giving back to the community.


“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

H. Jackson Brown Jr.


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Our Brightest Year Yet

On March 4th, five REAL Bears general members Elvy Ramirez,Summer Holmes, Gabriella Billups, Monique Fahy, and Nafisatu Bangura accompanied by their advisors and three Traditions Council members attended a two-day Council for Advancement and Support of Education Affiliated Student Advancement Programs (CASE ASAP) conference in Stillwater Oklahoma. On the first day of the conference we were welcomed by the president of the alumni association Chris Batchelder, and the president of OSU foundation Kirk Jewell. Mr. Jewell spoke about the importance of student leaders and stated that student leaders are the backbone of the Alumni Association. We were also welcomed by the host of the event Lyndsay Parks, OSU student Alumni Board executive director and Courtney Wolfe, OSU student foundation president.

At the conference the R.E.A.L. Bears   present for the student leaders that attended. Our topic was “How to engage ALL of your members” which was a success, and had a great turn out. We were able to provide a framework of how our organization and how we have been able to successfully recruit a diverse group of students, not based on race but also intellectually, social skills, leadership skills and much more.

At the conference we learned more about other schools’ student  alumni association programs. I had the opportunity to attend two different sessions. My first session was presented by The University of New Mexico, here I learned about recruitment strategies, a beneficial presentation that gave me ideas that I can share with members of R.E.A.L Bears to improve recruitment. My second session was presented by the student foundation of Oklahoma State University. There I learned ways to thank donors and show them appreciation. This presentation was also very informative and had great ideas that can be used by R.E.A.L Bears. Going to these presentation really made a difference in how I viewed R.E.A.L. Bears.

Attending the CASE ASAP conference was a great opportunity for me as a general member, because I had the chance to learn from other student leaders and see the importance of the Alumni Association. I think more REAL BEARS members should attend this conference because they will be able to learn the skills of becoming a leader, the skills of listening and being apart of an organization that wants us to succeed, not only their organization but in school, and in everything we do as students.


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Happy birthday, Missouri State!

One hundred and eleven years ago, on March 17th, 1905, the Missouri General Assembly authorized the establishment of State Normal School #4, later to be Missouri State University. On March 17th, R.E.A.L. Bears celebrated this amazing accomplishment by throwing a birthday party, as we had done the past three years. This year, R.E.A.L. Bears planned two events: one in Plaster Student Union for the entire campus and a private event in the newly built Davis-Harrington Welcome Center. R.E.A.L. Bears planned the Birthday Party for months, working tirelessly to make sure everything went as well and smoothly as possible.

R.E.A.L. Bears aimed to make this year’s birthday party bigger than the previous years, so we added a community service and philanthropy event to the day. R.E.A.L. Bears members helped design and promote “Be A Bear” t-shirts. The “Be A Bear” t-shirts are being sold for $19.05 and approximately half of the proceeds will be donated to the Emergency Scholarship Fund.  The Emergency Scholarship Fund was created after the tornado in the Joplin  and is given to students who can no longer continue their education at Missouri State without the scholarship. The t-shirts will be sold from the March 17th, Missouri State’s birthday, to the end of the Homecoming weekend in the fall, never to be sold again in hopes of spearheading a new tradition for Missouri State.

In addition to supporting philanthropy towards the University, R.E.A.L. Bears added a  community service component to the event.  R.E.A.L. Bears collected birthday party supplies for Wish I May, a non-profit organization. Wish I May supports families in the community who are financially struggling and are unable to throw their child a birthday party.  R.E.A.L. Bears decorated large cardboard boxes and placed them in  academic buildings and other places on campus. On the boxes, there was a poster describing why the boxes were there, how long they were going to be there, and some examples of what to bring.

The day of the birthday party everyone was in party mode. R.E.A.L. Bear members and volunteers handed out cupcakes all morning to promote the event in the student union.  The cupcakes given away in the morning were from The Urban Cup, a local Springfield cupcake shop. They were obviously delicious and students loved them, so they went quickly. The photo booth, card signing table, trivia table, and food from Traditions Council was all set up and ready to go by the start of the birthday party. Students and faculty enjoyed taking pictures at the photo booth and trying to answer Missouri State trivia. The people who stopped by were thoroughly having fun. Some people even came back later to try for a different prize. At the photo booth, took tons of pictures and could print  off very cute Instagram pictures if they used the hashtag #BirthdayBears on Instagram.

To promote community engagement, R.E.A.L. Bears worked with The Urban Cup, a cupcake shop in downtown Springfield. The Urban Cup  sold cupcakes that were Birthday Party themed with the bear head logo. The bakery sold the cupcakes all week long and donated a portion of the proceeds to the Emergency Scholarship Fund.

Overall, the birthday party was a big hit! Students loved all the activities, food, and celebration; however, just because the celebration is over for 2016, we have begun to plan the celebration for 2017, which R.E.A.L. Bears hope to grow. Next year,  we envision the birthday party being even grander!


For more information on the Be a Bear project: http://alumni.missouristate.edu/be-a-bear-tshirt.htm


For more information on Wish I May: http://www.wishimay.org/

Monique, general member since fall 2015
Monique, general member since fall 2015
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President’s Post

My name is Caitlin Harris and I am the current President of R.E.A.L. Bears. I am a Junior here at Missouri State, majoring in Biology with a Chemistry minor, and following the Pre-Medicine Program. My goal is to become a physician and practice pediatric medicine. I joined R.E.A.L. Bears the fall of my freshman year with the goal of becoming involved on campus. I really loved the idea of building my leadership skills and I knew I needed some help to better myself as a communicator. I can honestly say that R.E.A.L. Bears has done all of those things for me and so much more.

To begin the semester, we began by appointing the first ever committee chairs for the four committees that were started during the fall semester. The Executive Council hosted a committee chair training to prepare these leaders to take on the responsibility. Overall, the committees have been a great addition to R.E.A.L. Bears. The majority of our members are actively involved in a committee, which encourages retention. The addition of committees has also helped to plan and run our events much more smoothly. For the marketing committee in particular, the committee I head along with my committee chair, we were able to design and distribute a R.E.A.L. Bears exclusive t-shirt, something we had not done in quite some time. We will be using these shirts as a way to market our organization, by having days when all members will wear their shirts, and by using them for giveaways.

Another new aspect to R.E.A.L. Bears this semester was our student philanthropy event. Our organization was asked to take on the task of teaching students the importance of giving back to their University, both with their time and money. Our Vice President of Philanthropy along with her committee, put on an educational event at the end of February that had a great turn out. Students had the opportunity to sign a banner to say thank you to donors of the University, and they had the chance to guess how many privately funded scholarships were awarded last school year, one of which is specific to R.E.A.L. Bears.

This semester the Executive Council also nominated R.E.A.L. Bears for three different STAR Awards: the Distinguished Merit award, which we won last year,  the Leadership/Membership development award, and the Public Affairs award. The STAR Awards will take place on April 25th, and are a way to recognize the most influential and successful student organizations on campus.

Another exciting aspect of R.E.A.L. Bears is Missouri State’s Birthday.  The Vice President of External Programs and his committee threw a party for the University on March 17th. This is the third year that our organization has put on this event, and it was successful once again. This year we had two separate events. The first was held in the PSU and was open to all students and staff where they had the opportunity to sign an oversized birthday card, take a picture in the photo booth, answer a Missouri State trivia question and spin the prize wheel, indulge in traditional Missouri State foods, or purchase a Be A Bear shirt. Our evening event was a more formal event that student leaders, deans, and faculty were invited to. Our student body president and vice president emceed the program which also featured President Clif Smart and the Alumni Board of Directors Chair Elect, Dan Cogswell.

Looking forward, the semester is quickly coming to an end, yet there is so much left for R.E.A.L. Bears . First we have the Appreciation Reception that will take place at the end of April, an event that allows our members to honor someone who has had an impact on their college career. At this event we will also be presenting the Julie Ebersold Award and announce the R.E.A.L. Bear of the Year. Elections are also fast approaching. They will also take place at the end of April where members will officially be elected as the President and six Vice Presidents of R.E.A.L. Bears. Once elections are complete, applications for committee chairs will be available, and soon after, six new committee chairs will be chosen. For the 2016-2017 school year, there will be six committees, the four we already have in place: Marketing, Membership, Philanthropy and Birthday Party, and we have decided to add two more: Publications and Social Activities. Lastly, we will also have the annual End of Year Picnic to reflect on the great year we have had, and to wish our seniors goodbye and good luck.

Caitlin Harris, R.E.A.L. Bears President
Caitlin Harris, R.E.A.L. Bears President
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