Our SOAR (Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration) leaders are vital to our incoming students in that they help our new Bears get registered for classes, learn more about the campus and provide a connection to the campus. It’s not easy to get the job of SOAR leader. You fill out the application, get a recommendation from a faculty or staff member, go through a carousel interview process, and if you make it through the carousel process, you have an interview with the New Student & Family Programs professional and student staff. If a student is chosen to be a SOAR leader, they live on campus in Hutchens Hall (no charge) during the summer, take a class and go through intensive training, work 40 hours a week during the summer, get paid plus receive a meal stipend for the summer. After their first year as a SOAR leader, the student can re-apply to be a SOAR leader for another year. The returning SOAR leaders can also apply to be a Student Orientation Assistant and a Family Orientation Assistant. These three students work in the New Student and Family Programs office throughout the year, helping plan SOAR leader training, the student track, the family track, work with Family Weekend and Spring Family Weekend and other tasks as assigned.
The application to be a SOAR leader is now open (closes November 6th) so I asked our orientation assistants (Parker Mason, Stephanie Bube and Trenell Morgan) some questions about why they applied to be a SOAR leader.
Why did you apply to be a SOAR Leader?
Parker: I applied to be a SOAR Leader because I wanted to have some sort of positive impact on students here at Missouri State. My SOAR Leaders had such an impact on me, and I knew from the moment that I left my session that it was something I wanted to pursue. The fact that SOAR Leaders get to play a role in such a special moment of peoples’ lives seemed so awesome to me, and it has been an absolute joy to serve in that capacity in the time that I have.
Stephanie: I applied to be a SOAR leader to get more involved and connected to Missouri State. The amount of pride I have for Missouri State comes from my very first summer as a SOAR leader.
Trenell: I applied to be a SOAR Leader for several reasons. I wanted the opportunity to represent such an amazing school in a positive way, build relationships with incoming students and help the student transition from high school to college smoothly.
What lessons did you learn about yourself and Missouri State as a SOAR leader?
Parker: I always knew that Missouri State was an institution welcoming of all walks of life. I don’t think I would’ve attended this institution had I thought any differently. That said, becoming a SOAR Leader revealed to me all the ways that we cater our message to be as welcoming as possible to people of all different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identity, etc. Being a SOAR Leader taught me that I have so much to learn from the people who come from all over to study here, and while I have learned so much in my time here, I’m excited to continue doing so as a member of the SOAR program and student at MSU.
Stephanie: I learned that I can’t have every quality of a good leader. It is important to lean on others and allow their strengths to complement yours.
Trenell: A lesson I learned about myself during my time as a SOAR Leader is you have to care about the position and others in order to be a great SOAR Leader. Becoming a SOAR Leader is a selfless act, you have to want to help students and their families through this tough transition. This opportunity isn’t about you, it’s about the students.
What is your number one reason students should apply to be a SOAR leader?
Parker: Students should apply to be a SOAR Leader because it is one of the absolute best ways to have an impact on the lives of others here at Missouri State. I truly believe that the SOAR Leader position is designed for people who want to make a difference in their community, which is a vital component of Missouri State’s Public Affairs mission. Not only will you have an impact on incoming freshmen going through orientation, you will also have the opportunity to engage with faculty and staff at the university, as well as your fellow SOAR Leaders. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that these connections have been instrumental in shaping my time here at the university.
Stephanie: I had the BEST summer ever! We went on trips, had numerous pools day, countless memories and so much fun! Yes, we also worked hard, but being a part of the SOAR team means you are surrounded by other great leaders and individuals on a daily basis. The amount of growth you will experience in three months is unbelievable.
Trenell: The number one reason why students should become a SOAR Leader is because it’s a great opportunity to grow as an individual, leader, and a BEAR. Being a SOAR Leader will change your life in such a positive way and you will get the chance to change the lives of new students as well.
How does being a SOAR leader help you with your future career?
Parker: Being a SOAR Leader helps you in your future career because it assists you in developing vital skills that employers find desirable. SOAR Leading requires you to be able to communicate effectively, follow and give instruction, work/collaborate as part of a team, facilitate small group discussion/activity, etc.
Stephanie: You learn professionalism, thinking on your feet, helping others, and communication skills that are all very transferable to any career! This experience is very marketable to future employers.
Trenell: Becoming a SOAR Leader will help you strengthen core skills and traits that will help you in your future career. As a SOAR Leader, you will learn how to become adaptable to all situations, how to think on your feet quickly, work with a diverse group of individuals and so much more. All this will help you become a better leader and future employee.
As you look back on your time at Missouri State, what have you learned that you would like to share with family members?
Parker: In my time at this university I have learned that students will sprout where they are planted. That is to say, no matter what you get involved with while you are here, you will thrive. This institution does such an amazing job at encouraging the growth of its students, and as long as students put themselves out there and join different extra-curricular activities, they will have a positive experience. This has largely to do with the faculty and staff who work here, and make it their mission to make students’ time here as positive as possible. Parents, encourage your students to find something they can get involved with while they are here, as that will largely inform what their college career looks like.
Stephanie: Being a student at Missouri State, you become a part of this community. However, if students get involved and gives back to the university, it will also become a big part of them as well. This is the very aspect of why my experience at Missouri State has been as impactful as it is. Encourage your students to invest in the Missouri State community and it will give back to them.
Trenell: Looking back on my time here at Missouri State, one thing I’ve learned that I would like to share with family members is that over time Missouri State becomes home for all students. At Missouri State, there is a sense of security, inclusiveness and happiness. All students are top priority, and all students matter.
If your student has any questions about applying to be a SOAR leader, recommend they visit https://www.missouristate.edu/newbears/becomeaSOARleader.htm to get more information.