LeaderBear Spotlight

Denise Baumann

Dr. Denise Baumann is this weeks LeaderBear.  Denise is the Associate Director of Res Life Housing and Dining Services.  She has been an integral part of the Distinction in Public Affairs program having served on the initial start-up committee for the program and serving as a facilitator all four years of the program. Apart from her role in Res Life, she is also a professor of two graduate level classes, EAD 723 - Student Development Theory & EAD 749 - Student Outcomes in Higher Education.  

Dr. Baumann completed the following degree programs:

  • EdD, 2006, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Master of Education, Counseling Psychology, 1991, James Madison University
  • BS, Political Science/Public Administration, 1988, Minnesota State University –Mankato

Her top strengths are: Deliberative, Harmony, Responsibility, Achiever, and Learner.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

"The opportunity to meet new students and watch them develop.  It is always interesting to listen to what students have to say about topics and to observe how they create solutions to problems."

Her advice to younger students:

"Get involved on campus as a way to meet new people and have new experiences.  Be careful not to be too involved – choose a few things that really interest you or challenge you and enjoy them to the fullest!" 

Jordan McGee

This week's LeaderBear is none other than Missouri State's current Student Body President, Jordan McGee.  Jordan is a senior double majoring in Economics and Organizational Communication. He plans to graduate in the Spring of 2015 at the end of his presidency.  This position is very fresh for him as he was recently elected and sworn in at the end of this past Spring semester and has big plans in store for this academic year including looking at academic probation and ensuring students have the tools they need to succeed and attempting to set up a textbook rental program.

Jordan has always been very involved on campus.  He completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program his freshman year in 2012. He is an active member of Theta Chi Fraternity, recently finished his position as the Greek Week director, and was very active in SGA before being elected as president.

His top strengths are: Analytical, Context, Intellection, Input, and Responsibility.

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

"The Emerging Leaders Program taught me positive skills like how to work with and communicate well with others, understanding the strengths of others as well as my own strengths and how we can interact well to work towards the same goal, and finally I learned to think outside of what I previously knew about other people, trying to gain a better understanding about their lives and how they came to be the people they are today."

His advice to younger students:

"My advice to younger students would be to try things you wouldn’t normally do. College is a time to find out who you are and what you are good at and you can’t find that out if you are doing the same things you did in High School. Learning to balance school work and other activities is a vital skill that can be difficult to manage but will be completely rewarding if you can accomplish it." 

Marco Kilongkilong 3

This week's LeaderBear is Marco Kilongkilong. As an undergraduate Marco completed the Centennial Leaders Scholarship program in 2008. He was in Missouri State's ROTC program, a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, a multiple year SOAR Leader, named Missouri State Homecoming King in fall 2010, and was involved in many others areas of campus.

Marco graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in criminology in 2011 and shares the journey that he has embarked on since then:

"Since I graduated Missouri State and commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army, my life has been very adventurous. I graduated from the Field Artillery Basic Officer Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where I continued my military career in my Forces Command (FORSCOM) assignment to Fort Knox being assigned to the 3rd Brigade 1st Infantry Division Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Recently, I deployed to Afghanistan serving as a company fire support officer for Comanche Company, 2nd Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment where I conducted several joint combat operations with coalition and Afghan forces simultaneously serving as the primary fires advisor for the 205th Afghan National Army (ANA) Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIII – XIV.  During this deployment, my unit with Afghans taking the lead, conducted combat operations to secure the populace and bring governance to the province in our area of operations, Zabul Province.

My greatest accomplishment in my military career has been the creation of the first Regional Field Artillery Training Center (RATC) in Afghanistan. I was the primary American lead and tactical advisor to create this training center where the 205th ANA Brigade with coalition assistance created a training program and facilities that trained, refined, and increased the capability of the field artillery and fires assets of the Afghan Army. After a few rotations, the program became independent of coalition assistance and I have recently been made aware that the Minister of Defense of Afghanistanvisited the RATC and determined that it was so successful that each Afghan National Army brigade would adopt the creation of RATCs across the nation. I am incredibly proud of this accomplishment but it would not be possible without the help of other fires advisors and coalition partners specifically from the Australian Defense Forces and the Slovak Army.

Today, I am a first lieutenant serving as the battalion Fires and Effects Coordinator for 2nd Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment (LIGHT). I have received orders where I will soon be reassigned to 2nd Battalion 2nd Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where I look forward to lead a platoon of Soldiers in a field artillery battery. I am incredibly proud to serve my nation and consider service in the capacity as an officer in the United States Army a great privilege."

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

"I was privileged enough to be selected as a Centennial Leader Scholar and honored to have served as a Centennial Leader student facilitator for two years during my tenure as a student at Missouri State University. Centennial Leaders provided a program that exposed me to different aspects of leadership, culture, and understanding that would diversify, challenge, and evolve my own personal leadership style. The program also networked me with several other students and faculty that could assist me as I progressed at Missouri State.

The United States Army looks at leadership critically and rightfully so. The decisions of leaders mean life and death and could affect national policy. One aspect the Army considers is potential of an individual Soldier. “Has this Soldier reached his or her maximum leadership potential?” This is the question that is always asked of leaders. Once the answer is “yes” then that Soldier can no longer progress in the ranks of the military. Missouri State’s Centennial Leaders Scholarship program allowed me to understand quickly the concept of potential within myself knowing my limits and even the limitations of others."

His advice to younger students:

"I would tell younger students who are interested in campus involvement consequently pursuing roles as student leaders that more than anything they should ask why they want to be involved or lead. Truthfully, leadership is a choice. It isn’t a natural endowment. It isn’t an ability that is nurtured. It is a choice. Leaders throughout history come about because these people decided to lead. Necessity is not enough. So I would tell someone that if they want to lead they should ask if their reasons are justified because leadership has the burden of making decisions that have the potential to cause incredible effects in the positive and negative of others, organizations, and institutions. Leadership is a privilege and a great burden. Anyone considering pursuit in this endeavor should never take it lightly." 

Victoria Culver


Victoria Culver is this week's LeaderBear.  Victoria recently accepted a position here at Missouri State as the Assistant Director of Student Engagement for Programs in the Office of Student Engagement. In this position, she will advise the Student Activities Council and Homecoming Committee along with the newly formed Traditions Council. She is returning to Missouri State after receiving a B.S. Mathematics and Psychology during her time as an undergraduate here. During this time she was very involved in Student Activities Council and Homecoming and now she gets to return as an advisor. She went on to receive her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University.  

Victoria's top five strengths are Learner, Analytical, Context, Responsibility, and Deliberative.

In the Spring of 2008 Victoria completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program.  She later went on to facilitate both the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders and Centennial Leaders programs, and served from 2009-2010 as the Leadership Student Specialist. 

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

"The biggest takeaway that I gained from the Leadership Development Programs at MSU was that there was not one standard form for a good leader.  Through these programs, I was able to discover who I was as a leader, the strengths and weaknesses that I had, and how to articulate those things.  The Leadership Development Programs also taught me to understand and appreciate leaders who had different leadership styles than me."

Her advice to younger students:

"My advice to younger students would be to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.  Some of my best friends in college were people who I had originally misjudged or stereotyped.  Once I took the time to get to know them, I learned so much from them and they’re still my friends today.  You’ll never know someone’s story until you take the time to listen.  Taking just a couple minutes to have a conversation with someone new can show you a completely different perspective or lead to a lifelong friendship." 

Addison Reed

This week's LeaderBear is Missouri State's incoming Student Body Vice President Addison Reed. She was just elected to her office this past spring and will serve the Fall 2014 - Spring 2015 term.  Addison is currently pursuing a degree in marketing (advertising and promotion) and plans to graduate in the Fall of 2016. Along with her role as the Student Body VP, she is also an active member of Sigma Kappa and a returning SOAR Leader this summer.

Addison's top five strengths are positivity, includer, achiever, focus, and restorative.

In the Spring of 2012 Addison completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

"The people I met from my session was so rewarding because we have all become involved students on campus in specific areas we have a passion in and it is crazy that we all started as one big group. Many of those students have become my best friends and role models and I couldn’t imagine college without them."

Her advice to younger students:

"Don’t be afraid to jump in right away as a freshman or a sophomore. You will be surprised at your potential if you are motivated and strive to get involved. Live life to the fullest while you are in college. They are the best four(ish) years of your life." 

Ashley Riley

This week's LeaderBear is Ashley Riley. Ashely just returned to the states from leading a volunteer group down in Jamaica. She recently graduated this past May with a Bachelor's degree in anthropology and has already started her Master's of Science in Applied Anthropology here at Missouri State. Ashley kept herself busy as an undergraduate having four minors; African Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, History, and Sustainability & Development. Her interested in other countries and cultures will serve her well as she serves in the Peace Corps starting June 2015.

Ashley's top five strengths are Ideation, Includer, Input, Responsibility, Strategic.

While Ashley was an undergraduate she completed the Centennial Leaders program her freshman and sophomore year.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

"Centennial Leaders allowed me to develop the skill of knowing when to step up as a leader but also when to allow others to take the lead. The Centennial Leaders class of 2010 was full of talented leaders, and it was difficult for us to let someone else take the reins. We learned the importance of recognizing each other’s strong points to ensure that instead of having a room full of 24 different students trying to be the leader, we had a group working together."

Her advice to younger students:

"Study Away! Studying abroad was one of the most valuable decisions I made during my undergraduate career. As our world becomes more and more interconnected, a global perspective is vital. As students, it is our job to gain an understanding of not only foreign cultures, but of our own cultures."

Brett Gaines

This week's LeaderBear is Brett Gaines. Brett is an alumni of Missouri State that obtained his Bachelor's degree in finance and continued his education completing a Masters of Business Administration in 2010. Upon graduating, Brett was hired on at Missouri State as an admissions counselor.  He worked in this role for a little over two years before moving to his current job in Kansas City as a business analyst for Cerner Corporation.

Brett's top five strengths are Harmony, Analytical, Includer, Relator, and WOO.

While Brett was an undergraduate he facilitated both the Centennial Leaders and Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders programs.  He later went on to become the Leadership Student Specialist and work with all of the leadership programs.

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

"The opportunities for self-discovery by helping others discover themselves. Thinking back I had the opportunity to work with approximately 200 student leaders. And even though activities were repeated the outcomes, and the arrival to those outcomes, always varied. It was a continual learning experience for everyone. Through those experiences it opened my eyes to what I have found to be a cornerstone of my life philosophy.  I will learn more about myself by helping others than approaching the situation with the attitude of 'what’s in it for me?' Speak little and listen often, the things you hear will change and shape you into a great leader and person that others will want to follow."

His advice to younger students:

"Know your why.  I’ve been speaking with my mentor from work and she recently posed this question and pointed me in the direction of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk.  When I was a student I was unaware of what exactly motivated me to be such an involved student.  I just knew that being a part of leadership development programs and helping others learn about themselves made me happy.  Being in the workforce I lost sight of that and never really found the same level of fulfillment.  Only recently did I sit down and truly think about what it was about those interactions that made them so worthwhile.  Take a moment and think about your why. Why do you want to be a student leader?  Why are you involved in your organization(s)?  Why do you do anything that you do?  It sounds like a simple question and for some it will be easy to answer, but for others it may take some time.  Think about it, and once you have an answer it will make so many things in your life clearer and easier."

Layne Ivy

This week's LeaderBear is Layne Ivy. Layne is currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain for the spring semester, taking intensive Spanish courses as well as learning about the culture of Europe. He is a geography (environmental & natural resources) and spanish double major.

Layne's top five strengths are Achiever, Competition, Deliberative, Harmony, Learner

He was a participant in the Centennial Leaders program his freshman and sophomore year. This fall he will be returning to be a Centennial Leaders facilitator.  Layne is also a two year SOAR Leader and a two year Resident Assistant. 

When asked what about our programs impacted him the most he replied,

"The leadership programs through Missouri State have taught me to think before I speak or take action. This strength is something that I have been able to utilize very effectively in class and in the real world."

His advice to younger students:

"My advice would be to put all fears aside when trying new things. The good and bad experiences combined are what you will remember the most when it’s all over."

Kelsea Fink

Kelsea Fink is this week's LeaderBear.  Kelsey just finished up her sophomore year and plans to graduate in 2016 with her bachelors degree in accounting.  She likes to keep herself busy completing both the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program and the Distinction in Public Affairs program this past Spring.  But that's not it, she's also a member of Delta Zeta, Phi Eta Sigma, Homecoming Committee 2014, a Student Engagement Ambassador, and holds a job at Big Whiskeys as well! 

Kelsea's top five strengths (Achiever, Discipline, Includer, Responsibility, Positivity) help her be a very well-round and determined leader.

This summer Kelsea has the opportunity to partake in a great opportunity sponsored by our office.  She will be a part of the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive, energizing, six-day educational experience designed to equip young adults to become extraordinary leaders, in Champaign, IL. This is the first time Missouri State has sponsored students to attend this great leadership opportunity.  Kelsea will be attending along with four other Missouri State students.  After these five participants complete the program, they will work together along with Missouri State staff to bring LeaderShape to Missouri State's campus in the near future.

When asked what about our programs impacted her the most he replied,

"The programs I have participated in at Missouri State University (MSU) have impacted my life greatly. I have gained valuable insight about myself, as well as others on this campus. These opportunities have taught me valuable leadership skills that I will carry into my professional and personal life. In addition, these programs have given me the opportunity to meet amazing students at MSU who are much like myself. The relationships formed, the skills acquired, and the feeling of completion and success have greatly impacted my time here at MSU. I will never forget these opportunities and the person they have made me become." 

Her advice to younger students:

"Advice that I would give to younger students is that it is never too late to join organizations and get involved. I used to be a student who would watch from the sidelines as others excelled in organizations. Once I took the initiative to break out of my comfort barriers and join programs, I became an entirely new person. You are accepted for your weaknesses and strengths by students from a wide-variety of organizations on campus. Therefore, do not be afraid to take that first step and see the amazing person you have the ability to become."

Alex Johnson

This weeks LeaderBear is Alex Johnson.  Alex graduated with his bachelors degree in 2012 and is graduating today with his Masters in Student Affairs in Higher Education.  He completed the Centennial Leaders program his freshman and sophomore year then went on to become the Leadership Student Specialist his senior year and facilited both the Centennial Leaders and Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders programs.

Alex has had a very unique and successful story with finding his first career.  His first year in the masters program he was working as a GA in the CASL office.  The office had a full time position come available the next year, which Alex accepted. He is now the Program Coordinator for Service-Learning at Missouri State University. Alex has the pleasure of working with students and faculty to create hands-on learning experiences.  Through this position, he also remains active in the Springfield community, helping students make an impact. Upon graduation he will already have a year of experience in his career under his belt. 

When asked what about our programs impacted him  the most he replied,

"Relationships and discomfort.  These are two aspects of Leadership Programs that had the most impact on me as a student and as a leader.  Leadership Programs at Missouri State cut a path to the first deep connections I had in college.  These connections led to more and more networking, and in no time, I felt connected to several parts of campus.  By “discomfort”, I mean that these programs pushed me to do more, learn more, and to step outside of my comfort zone.  In all my experiences with leadership programs (Centennial Leader participant and facilitator, and Emerging Leaders Facilitator) discomfort became something I searched for.  I learned that stepping outside of the box means personal growth."

His advice to younger students:

"To younger students, I would say find ways to become the controller of your college experience.  Only you know your true passions, but by engaging in campus life, student groups, and leadership programs, you will find new ways to view these passions.  Your time here as a student will fly by, so take advantage of the resources Missouri State and Springfield offer. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” –Neale Donald Walsch."

Nii Abrahams

This weeks LeaderBear is Nii Kpakpo Abrahams.  He is graduating next week with a bachelor's degree in communication with an emphasis in ethical leadership.  Nii completed the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders program as a freshman then continued to get very involved on campus.  He served as president of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for SGA, a University Ambassador, and a three time SOAR Leader!

Recently Nii joined the ranks of royalty at Missouri State when he was crowned the 2013-2014 Homecoming King last fall.

Nii will be returning to Missouri State next fall to pursue a master's degree in communication. When asked what about our programs impacted him  the most he replied,

"As a freshman being a part of a leadership program that allows you to not only get to know other budding student leaders like you in ALL sectors of campus but actually forming a close bond that’ll literally carry over till you graduate and beyond was incredible! That allowed me to really see how others lead which I was able to learn and grow from them. Those friends I made through Emerging Leaders has impacted my life in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful!"

His advice to younger students:

"To younger students, my piece of advice would be to stay humble. There is nothing more off-putting than student leaders who feel entitled to positions, awards, etc. Being a student leader isn’t about the accolades but having a real desire and passion to take the innate gifts and skills that you have to make the people around you better and to leave the University we all love and serve better than the way we found it."

Kelley Fugett

This weeks LeaderBear is Kelley Fugett.  She is graduating this month with a bachelor's degree in both Administrative Management and Logistics and Supply Chain Management.  Kelley got very involved in Missouri State's Leadership Development Programs completing the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders Program and Distinction in Public Affairs.  After completing the programs, Kelley returned to be a facilitator for the Commerce Bank Emerging Leaders and Centennial Leaders Programs, and served her last two years as the Leadership Student Specialist.  

Upon graduation she has accepted a postion as a District Manager for ALDI and will be moving to Witchita, KS. When asked what about our programs impacted her the most she replied,

"I really enjoyed getting to know everyone freshman year. Those people have been right beside all throughout college in various Leadership roles and I know that even after I graduate I will be able to go to them with questions."

Her advice to younger students:

"Don't be afraid of the unknown. Take everything in and enjoy every opportunity given to you. College goes by in the blink of an eye." 

Leadership Development