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.