Student Service Spotlight

Painting the Bigger Picture - Addison Reed

Addison ReedTo Addison Reed, a 5th year senior at Missouri State, service and volunteerism should go beyond getting credit hours. Logging the time and getting signatures approved should not be the end of a person’s involvement. Serving your community and staying involved beyond the required time are things that Addison values. Seeing the big picture and being engaged in society and are important elements in changing the world with your own time and effort. “Service to me is taking time out of your day to help someone or something in need. Really using your time and putting work into making something happen.”

Addison is seeking a major in marketing, advertising and promotions. She was always an artistic and creative person, so her interests lead her to graphic design and advertisement. She also had a slight interest in business, which helped her settle on her current major. Because of her impressive leadership skills and ability to talk to anyone and everyone, Addison very easily got involved in on-campus programs such as Emerging Leaders, SOAR, Advertising Team, Engagement Camp, and Sigma Kappa sorority. On top of all of these responsibilities, Addison managed to hold higher level positions within her clubs and at school, including the Vice President of the Missouri State student body, and the activities chair in her sorority. Through all of these different engagements, Addison has been using the connections that she is making to her advantage. Networking is one of the larger benefits that Addison reaps from her involvement and service. She has also been lucky enough to be work with a non-profit organization at a paid internship. Something that Addison really enjoys is Ad Team, which is a group project that she was able to participate in through one of her classes. It is a national competition that college marketing students compete in. What they do in this competition is put together a campaign for a specific client addressing some issue. This year, Addison and her teammates have been asked to present their campaign idea to the United Nations in Washington D.C. Addison not only excels in her field of study, but always saves room to participate in community involvement projects.

Freshman orientation, homecoming, and Alzheimers fundraisers are activities in which Addison is very active. Her sorority’s philanthropy is for organizations that work with Alzheimer’s. Addison takes part in Walk to End Alzheimer’s and walks benefitting Cancer very often, and this is not only for her sorority hour requirements. Addison’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was young, and was re-diagnosed recently, but after finishing her last round of chemotherapy, Addison’s mother is currently cancer-free. Raising money and awareness are things that are very important to Addison, and she really tries to impact as many people as she can by putting all of her effort into causes that she supports. Her drive to touch people’s lives stems from her personal background, and that is a very powerful source. Her passion for making her plans happen and her determination to effect people are some of her most admirable traits. She is so outgoing and friendly, and is always willing to help out a friend. Addison admits that her forms of service have, in a way, shaped her into the person she is today. She claims that the best part of serving in her community is the feeling she gets when she sees her effort directly impact someone’s life. Addison loves seeing her good works reaching those in which they were meant to help.

Addison’s favorite volunteerism project that she participates in is the Bass Pro marathon. She stands near the end of the path and hands the runners water cups as they go by. One year, she saw a man in an army uniform running with a backpack on his shoulders. When she looked to see what was on the backpack, she was floored by the sight of the pictures of the man’s fallen friends. Addison says that this experience really hit her because she saw that all kinds of people benefit from her service. She also knows how much service has impacted her and her family, which is where her passion for service most likely started.

Addison goes out with her sorority sisters and gives her time for the greater good, and spends a lot of her time with different organizations that benefit those in need. The lesson that Addison has learned from her service is, “There is a bigger picture, and I have the power to influence it. I learned selflessness and to give my time to something good.” Addison’s plans for her future include working for an organization that perpetuates a positive message, and she wants to take her service to the next level in order to contribute to the world. In high-school, Addison’s volleyball coach made their quote for the year, “no regrets,” and that is something that stuck with Addison through her life. She realized that it was better to pursue something and fail rather than to have never pursued it at all. Learning from your time and service is something that Addison holds dear to her. The lesson that she wants everyone to learn from her time given is, “Don’t just do it for the credit; do it to help. Seek out opportunities.” Her vision for her community is for Missouri State to volunteer more and she encourages her fellow students to find a way to get involved. Her plans for the world are to raise enough money in order to cease the suffering that Alzheimers and cancer patients go through. Addison knows what she wants to accomplish out of her service, and that is to be able to look at the big picture and say, “Yeah, I helped paint that.”

By Jerrica Shine
Kickapoo University

Learning through Rearrangement - Emily Cassimatis

When thinking about the types of people that are involved in communities, it is easy to visualize a specific person with particular qualities and interests that correlate with their involvement, not often do these interests include interior design or painting. Emily Cassimatis, a Missouri State University senior has gone above and beyond with finding creative ways to use her passion and talents to benefit others. Emily is majoring in interior design with a minor in art. Unlike some, Emily wants to use her skills for the betterment of others, not just herself. She would rather spend her time redesigning low income housing than be a star on her own HGTV show.

In high-school, Emily spent her time swimming for the school’s swim team and getting involved in clubs. Emily expressed herself through art classes and different projects her friends would present her with. Emily’s friends would always want her to design their club or team t-shirts, and she took those opportunities and used them to her advantage. She loved making the shirts, drafting her own designs, and using her talents to help others. Currently, Emily participates in a variety of charitable projects, helping out in any way that she can. On campus, Emily is a member of Alpha Delta Pi, University Ambassadors, and Marketing Chair of Bear Breaks. Although none of these involvements directly focus on Emily’s art interests, she has found ways to use her abilities to contribute. Emily’s sorority does their philanthropy with the Ronald McDonald House. Emily paints pictures and creates banners and signs for the locations and for the families involved with the Ronald McDonald House.

Emily’s definition of service is, “Helping people find pride in their situation,” and this varies from other students’ definitions. Emily’s ultimate goal for her life is to run a non-profit organization that offers do-it-yourself tips for living spaces such as low income housing and apartments. Emily understands that finding pride in ownership can be difficult if you do not see any value in what you own. She wants everyone to be able to love where they are at, no matter the situation, and she hopes that one day she can help as many people as she can, and allow them to develop a better outlook on their situation. Watching people grow and flourish in an environment that they themselves have created is something that Emily loves, and she feels that helping others is more important than helping herself. Emily also admits to doing things just because the opportunity had been presented. She loves getting the most out of every experience, and believes that everyone should want to take as many opportunities and chances as they can or else they may go through life asking, “what if?” Emily didn’t realize her passion for interior designing until later in her life, and she never would have known if it were not for taking chances and signing up for classes that she may not regularly have signed up for.

Emily is a true example of what it means to be a giver. She wants to help as many people as she can, and wants to change people’s outlooks on their individual situations. She spreads the word about the need for civic engagement by getting her friends and family involved in her projects. She has always known that working for a non-profit is what she wants to do, and she never does something if she is the only one benefitting from the effort. Emily wants her community to be happier, and she doesn’t want people to think that they are any less of a person because they are less privileged.

Being the oldest of three children, Emily has taken on a sort of motherly role all through her life. She always wants to know what is going on, and she thinks that being aware is one of the best things a person can do. Realizing the existence of social issues is a large part of what Emily stands for. Emily wants the community to be more educated on social justice issues, and this goes along with her passion for everyone to feel equal. She is passionate, and when able to take leadership roles, Emily makes change happen. For Emily, impacting people is the biggest and most rewarding benefit of involvement. “There is need everywhere. You can’t be ignorant to people that you know need help. You never stop learning about people in your environment. Experiences can impact you and help you learn about the rest of the world.” Emily learned that getting experience will not only benefit you, but others as well, and that is always a good thing. She has grown and matured through her involvement in her community, and that is something that Emily values and uses as a driving force to continue and serve. She will never stop helping people, and that is because she loves it too much. Emily wants people to shake up their thinking and try something new, and learn from it. Taking chances and getting experience is the best thing a person can do. In other words, Emily is a strong advocate for learning from rearrangement.

By Jerrica Shine
Kickapoo University

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. - Tai Thrasher

For Missouri State Junior Tai Thrasher, respect and faith are the driving forces for community involvement. Majoring in public relations and minoring in advertising and promotion has allowed Tai to come out of her shell and find people and places that she can get involved with. Tai balances online classes, extensive community service, sorority membership, on-campus ministry involvement, and still has the energy to remain humble about her good works in her community.

Coming from the small town of Lamar, MO, it makes perfect sense that Tai was so involved in high-school. "In a small town like mine, everyone is involved in just about everything.” When Tai first came to Missouri State, she admits to not knowing where to start her involvement. She eventually joined Emerging Leaders her freshman year, and sophomore year she joined the sorority Alpha Chi Omega, where her involvement began. Her sorority’s involvement was mainly with the Harmony House, which is an organization that provides safe housing for families escaping domestic violence. Tai really enjoys working with this organization, and her passion seems to stem from her values of respect and faith. Tai lets her faith guide her life, and she knows that it is very important to her. She spreads her faith throughout campus by being a part of various on-campus ministries.

Tai has always had an interest in working for a non-profit organization, but one day, in an introduction to public relations course, guest speakers visited her classroom. These speakers all came from different levels of for-profit organizations, and Tai realized that working with a for-profit business would not be bad, especially if the message that the organization was giving out was a positive one. After opening her eyes, Tai really started getting involved with a multitude of different groups and she took part in several service projects. Her favorite project was the Distinction in Public Affairs. The main goal of the project was to get people engaged in the community in some way. Tai admits to this project being her favorite because her group chose the public order and safety issues, which domestic violence fell under. Tai’s familiarity with Harmony House allowed her to be extensively passionate with this project, and she positively impacted her community with her service, and was ecstatic that she was able to use her values as a source of drive. Through her volunteerism and service projects, Tai has made connections with organizations with similar visions to hers, and has made friends and lasting memories.

Tai’s vision for the world is simply for everyone to respect each other, but when asked to state it in her own words, she found a more specific and visionary way to put it. “For everyone to just treat each other with respect. A lot of the time, people disagree, and that’s okay. We aren’t always going to agree on everything, but it would be nice that even if you disagreed with someone, you could still value their opinion and treat them with respect and not belittle them for thinking a certain way.” The connection between Tai’s vision for the world and her service choices is clear. Tai wants a more reverent society, and so she chooses to volunteer with organizations that promote mutual respect, protection, and the betterment of the lives of the intimidated and oppressed. Tai would not be the person she is without her service experiences, and she is glad that she has found ways to get involved in areas that interest her. Impacting society and your community is a very important part of life, and Tai realized this in high school. She may be humble and sweet, but she is driven by faith and determination to make her vision for the world become a reality.

By Jerrica Shine
Kickapoo University

The American Dreamer- Asher Allman

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Asher Allman chose to have his college experience here at Missouri State University. Asher decided MSU was the total package for several reasons, it was close to home, yet far enough away that he could be an independent person and start his own life. He is smart, lively, and full of knowledge inside his field of study and out. With a major in global studies and international relations and pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and Defense, Asher makes it well known that he is all for the safety of America and the ideal in which this great country holds near and dear to its heart; the American Dream.

Before he realized how his strengths and abilities could be utilized to benefit himself and his community, Asher began his service in Boy Scouts. He finished the program all the way through, and also did service through in-school programs such as National Junior Honor Society in Middle School, and National Honor Society and Fellowship Christian Athletes in High-School. On top of these clubs, Asher ran Cross Country and Track in High-School, and claims that he was pretty good. Asher’s list of on-campus involvement is extensive, including being one of the chairmen of College Republicans, leading roles in the university’s Catholic ministries, and a research analyst in the CASL Office at MSU. As for off-campus involvement, Asher gives as much as he can to impact his community in a multitude of diverse aspects. Other than returning to volunteering at animal rescue shelters, Asher spends his time with Big Brothers Big Sisters through being a lunchtime buddy. The term “lunchtime buddy” is used for the volunteers who come and eat lunch with the child they have been pared with. It is a part-time opportunity for those who cannot make full-time commitments but still want to be involved. of how many different ways people can impact their community no matter how busy their lives may seem. Asher’s current involvement stems from interests in the fields of national security and foreign policy. Being a research analyst, Asher has been able to cater to his interests and use his knowledge and skills and apply them to his job.

In order to fully understand Asher’s passion, basic, and fundamental concept of human dignity.” Clearly, Asher has an appreciation for a strong America, and with the strengthening of his community being his vision, Asher has successfully found a way to use his passion and drive to resolve the issues he feels need to be addressed the most. The vision that Asher has for his community for the university to build and release active citizens and higher level thinkers and doers who recognize the importance of civic duties and responsibilities. Asher went on to talk about the importance of civic engagement through government processes.

With such a unique area of interest, homeland defense and national strength, it is natural to wonder where his curiosity came from. Asher’s grandfather was a World War 2 veteran, this sparked Asher’s interest in the areas of history and national defense. Along with this, Asher believes that our generation is defined by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Due to the passion behind his beliefs, Asher began using his talents and strengths for the betterment of his community. The ultimate goal, in Asher’s own words, is to, “defend the American Dream.”

The importance of using his actions for better was not solely perpetuated by Asher’s family, but also by his track/cross country coach back in High-School as well. A saying that has stuck with Asher to this day is something that his coach used to say, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” This taught Asher to take responsibility for his actions and not be completely careless about the things that he does. Another memorable quote that inspired Asher is, “you prove your worth with your actions, not your words.” Asher has been proving himself through various projects and the completion of civic duties rather than just tweeting about what people should be doing hoping for attention. He finds service valuable because it allows you to be a part of something that is enacting something positive, and you can reap the benefits and growth from it. In Asher’s case, service brought on a whole new outlook on life and his community. Also, he has been making great use with his service time by networking through activities and projects to cover a lot of ground in different areas of the community.

Asher’s favorite project so far has been the walkability project. The goal of this project was to make sure that sidewalks were safe to walk on and were available to everyone. They evaluated the condition of the sidewalks, and the locations of sidewalks relative to the street and buildings. He felt as if this project was significant because many people do not realize the necessity of safe and efficient sidewalks. Many people drive through Springfield to and from work, home, and school. Others do not have the same luxuries, and Asher emphasized the urgent need to fix any problems these people may face. These problems include sidewalks not being safe for civilians due to their deteriorating conditions. Asher is an advocate for partaking in civic duties in order to build and support a better community and nation, and projects such as these are ways that Asher both works for what he believes and raises awareness about the pressing issues.

Asher is a very inspiring and informative man that never fails to make a difference in some way. He does what he can to use his passion as fuel to achieve his vision of protecting the American Dream. Asher has found a way to learn what has happened in the past, but not let that knowledge blind him from the opportunities the future holds, which is one of his most admirable traits. The main lesson Asher has taken away from his service, and what he hopes everyone can learn, is that, “it is important to be open to a variety of opportunities, you need to show up and take risks, and you never know if the skills you learn today could benefit you tomorrow.”

By Jerrica Shine
Kickapoo University 

"Don't be afraid to believe in change..." - Cindy Umana

CindyCindy Umaña is a sophomore at Missouri State University. She is a Political Science major and her minor is Philosophy. She is an outgoing young woman that has a good head on her shoulders and really knows how to use her passion in ways that benefit those around her and in her community. Although Cindy may appear to be the average college student, I found during an interview that she has an impressive track record of community involvement and service, along with a strong passion for what she believes in.

Previous to her college involvement, Cindy was in the FCCLA club at her high-school. She mentioned that one year, they had a ‘Toys for Tots’ fundraiser, and this is where Cindy realized what service really was to her. She found that service made a person more connected to the community and it made her more personable and open minded. Cindy’s on campus involvement includes being the president of the Pre-Law Fraternity Phi Alfa Delta. Within this fraternity, students are encouraged to take part in different service projects and to get involved in their community. Also, she is involved in Model UN and a program nicknamed “Uno” that focuses on cultural exploration and the uniting of minority groups, and ultimately acts as a support group for those who seek such types of support. Along with these service programs, Cindy is involved in Hand-in-Hand, which is a multicultural center with the mission to, “empower individuals, ethnic and minority families, disadvantaged, and at-risk populations to become healthier—enabling individuals to contribute actively and productively to their communities” (Hand-in-Hand Multicultural Center website). They offer resources such as tutoring, counseling, and certain health services to those who cannot otherwise provide themselves with these services. Her other community involvement projects include D.A.C.A., or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In essence, this program was implemented by president Obama in 2012 to provide alternative routes to citizenship for individuals who are denied employment or college acceptance due to their lack of citizenship. Clearly, Cindy does not get this involved with service programs with such a specific focus or goal just for the credit. Her definition of service and what she chooses to be passionate about is the fuel for her excessive involvement in relieving pressure for the involuntary immigrated.

When asked what service meant to her, Cindy replied, “to aid others in order for them to reach their goals, and to help them help themselves.” Cindy was a participant in Leadershape, which is a week-long inner-reflection program that helps students realize what their vision for the community is and teaches them how to achieve their vision. After completing the week long camp, Cindy realized that her vision for the community was to eliminate the pressure put on those who immigrated to the United States involuntarily when they were children. This passion is what drives her involvement in D.A.C.A. and Hand-in-Hand. Being able to dedicate so much time and energy into programs such as these just shows how strong Cindy’s passion for helping others really is. In order to have this amount of drive, one would think there would be an explanation, and in Cindy’s case, the explanation can be found close to home.

With her family being from El Salvador, Cindy understands the pressure that can be put on an immigrant child. Cindy remembers a specific event that made her realize just how strong individuals would have to be to get past this applied pressure. Cindy recalls a day in 4th grade when she saw a group of protesters marching down the street. When she went to her class, she noticed that the other Hispanic children were not there. Then, she was asked by a white student why she was in class, to which she replied that she was just coming to class. The student asked her why she was not protesting with the other Hispanic students about immigrants not being able to go to school in America anymore. Cindy remembers going home that night and asking her mother to explain this to her. Her mother stated that being educated is the best thing to be, and that it was up to them as “activists” to change the perceptions of who people think others are and to empower as many people as she could. This stuck with Cindy throughout her life and can be viewed as the source of her passion behind her vision.

Near the conclusion of the interview, Cindy had a few inspiring things to say to the readers. She wants everyone to get involved and to encourage their friends to find ways to get involved in their communities. She said that servicing her community has really changed her for the better, and she knows now that she is a better person as a result of her involvement, and that she is more social and open minded than she every would have been. The main lesson Cindy wants people to take away when they look at her involvement and service is, “for them not to be afraid to believe in change. When you volunteer in your community, you get to know others better, and in turn, learn more about yourself.”

By Jerrica Shine 
Kickapoo University

Well of Life Food Pantry


Unfortunately, there are students suffering from food insecurity on the Missouri State University campus. Students having trouble finding ways to pay for their next meal, struggling with finding a place to sleep, or those who simply have not received financial assistance, all deserve to have a place they can go in order to find food. Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity is not something with which only homeless individuals suffer. Food insecurity can be described plainly as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Some students have no option but to eat cheap and unhealthy foods because they cannot find a reliable source of healthy and affordable food.

The Well of Life Food Pantry, located at 418 South Kimbrough Ave., is a non-profit organization that provides food and other basic materials to those who are faced with food insecurity. When the student food assistance program ran by the Office of Community Involvement and Service joined with Well of Life three years ago at its current location, their ultimate goal was to offer aid to Missouri State students facing food insecurity, going hungry, not able to make ends meet, or facing a delay in financial aid or other assistance.

The Ozarks Food Harvest has partnered with Well of Life and is the supplier of the food within the pantry. The food supplied includes basic grocery items such as canned fruits and vegetables, various meats, soup and snack products, and an array of different microwaveable meals. There is also bread, eggs, milk, and the option of cold or hot cereal. Health conscious options are also available, including gluten free alternatives. Basic hygiene items are offered at the food pantry as well; among these being soap (hair, body, laundry, and dish), razors, diapers, oral care products, feminine care products, and toilet paper. The quantity of supplies available for a customer to take home in per visit is dependent on the amount of members included in the family.

The time allocated specifically for the student body for the food assistance is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Walk-ins are absolutely encouraged and anyone is welcome no matter their age or their situation. When dealing with students, confidentiality is a priority and customers will not be asked to answer and invasive questions beyond the simple questionnaire found on the top of the “shopping list.” Mutual trust and respect is a large part of the help offered by the organization. The Office of Community Involvement and Service at Missouri State University has partnered with Well of Life to form a useful and reliable source of food assistance for students who seek such support. Acquiring help is never something to be embarrassed about, and the Office of Community Involvement and Service encourages students to obtain the aid and support they seek.

Call the Well of Life Food Pantry at (417)-869-2865 for more information.

Students with specific questions can call the director of Community Involvement and Service at (417)-836-4840

Also, follow Well of Life Food Pantry and Ozarks Food Harvest on Facebook for special announcements and additional information on how you could help by getting involved!

Click HERE for more information about Student Food Assistance.

By Jerrica Shine
Kickapoo University