Mark Campbell had a question for all of the Missouri State students gathered around him:
“How have you grown as a person since first stepping onto campus?”
Alison McClean, an exercise and movement science major, was the first to respond: “That’s a heavy question!”
“Well, this is going to get heavy!” Campbell said with a laugh.
This was one of the opening discussions at an April 18, 2018, event called Dinner with Eight Bears, a new Missouri State program that pairs an alumnus host or set of co-hosts with current students.
These gatherings offer networking and socializing opportunities for everyone involved. The hosts may share advice about careers and life; the students may share stories about current campus life and talk about their goals.
Alumni are invited to host a dinner between April 3-17, 2019.
Campbell is a 1986 graduate with a bachelor’s in finance and general business. He is a senior vice president and loan officer for First State Community Bank in Lebanon, Missouri.
He heard about Dinner with Eight Bears from another alumnus.
“When the opportunity came about to sign up to be a host, I jumped at the chance,” Campbell said.
“I wanted to connect with students to understand their fears, challenges and goals for the future. I also wanted to be available to answer any questions they might have.”
The students told him their future plans: Sarah Choi, a general business major, may work at her father’s trading company in South Korea.
Anna Altice, a marketing/advertising and promotions major, is looking for an internship.
Miranda O’Connell, a health services major, wants to earn a master’s degree in public health.
Cole Fuemmeler, a finance and general business major, plans to start his own business.
Campbell gave them his best career advice
- Be a better listener — let people talk about themselves.
- Remember names.
- Respect everybody; never try to intimidate anybody.
- Give words of affirmation to others.
- Network as much as you can.
- Give back to the community.
- Keep your life in balance. Learn to say no sometimes so you don’t miss out on time with family, or time you need for yourself.
- Maintain your health.
- Work toward two or three things you know you’re passionate about. “If you’re not passionate about it, don’t do it!”
Students enjoyed the one-on-one experience
Melissa Stallbaumer is a 2016 alumna with a bachelor’s in public relations. She’s now a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program.
Stallbaumer is not likely to follow Campbell into a career in banking — but that wasn’t the point of the dinner, she said.
“What he said about employment was really relatable, whether he was talking about your major or not. That knowledge about people skills and networking can apply to anyone.”
The students said they enjoyed meeting an alumnus, and think this experience could help as they build a life away from campus.
“It’s awesome to hear success stories that come from Missouri State,” said McClean, who is applying to physical therapy programs. “It makes life after college seem possible and less intimidating.”
Want to host a Dinner with Eight Bears?
The Alumni Association held a pilot program for Dinner with Eight Bears in Springfield during spring semester 2018. We’re now inviting all alumni to host a dinner between April 3-17, 2019.
Dinners are held throughout the academic year. We’re now taking registration for dinners in spring semester 2019.
Who will come to my dinner?
You get to decide many of the details, including the time, location, menu, topics of conversation and co-hosts. You can tailor your dinner to specific Bears, for example, first-generation students, nontraditional students, those involved in fraternity-sorority life, etc. You can also decide the number of students you want to host. Eight is just a suggestion — you decide what is comfortable for you.
To ensure a good student-to-host ratio, we recommend you have at least one co-host, and that at least one of you be a Missouri State graduate. If you need help finding a co-host, we have alumni volunteers who would be happy to join you!
Host(s) cover the cost of the meal; however, they may receive in-kind donation credit to Missouri State for the cost of providing the meal (receipts required).