Orientation 2017, new students, new program, great start

This year the Truman School had a record number of incoming students. To streamline Orientation, all students including on campus, mid-career, and online participated in Orientation through online modules that allowed students to learn more about the program from the comfort of their homes.  This was not only convenient for the students, but allow the staff to focus on more leadership and team building activities during the two days of on campus Orientation before classes started.

Breakfast with Director Lael Keiser

On Wednesday, August 16th new students, faculty and staff gathered over breakfast to meet and get acquainted.  A warm welcome and opening remarks were given by College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Pat Okker, and TSPA Director Lael Keiser. An MPA Program Overview was given by Kathy Miller, Director of Academic Programs. Throughout the day students learned about opportunities within the Truman school such as the Grant Writing Program, the Institute of Public Policy, study abroad programs and more.

During lunch students received insights and advice from a panel of alumni including:  Angela Huntington, ’13, Director of Family Services at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Missouri; Lelande Rehard, ’12, District Manager at the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District, and Kyle Olmstead, ’15, Legislative Coordinator for the Missouri House Minority Caucus.

After lunch students were treated to an inspiring presentation by John Thomas, Associate Director of Careers & Culture for the University of Missouri System.  Thomas’ interactive presentation on “The Flip Side of Leadership” made a big impression on both students and staff.  His premise that you need to be a follower before you can be a true leader resonated with the audience.

Another presentation that really engaged students was “Understanding the Leader in You” presented by Tojan Rahhal, PhD and Director of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives for the College of Engineering.  Focused on implicit bias and the imposter syndrome, students felt relieved that others in the room felt the same way and really enjoyed the insight that Dr. Rahhal provided.

On day two, students learned about the services offer through the Truman School’s Office of Career & Alumni Services.  Then Craig Benson, Manager of Student Support Services at the MU Career Center and nationally-certified Clifton Strengths Facilitator joined the group for an interactive workshop on Strengths.  Each student had taken the StrengthsQuest before coming to Orientation and enjoyed learning how to utilize this information as they begin graduate school.

Truman School students and staff at the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri

Incoming students had the opportunity to lunch with 2nd year MPA students to gather tips and advice about succeeding in Graduate School.  The day ended at the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri where students and staff volunteered three hours of their time to assist the nonprofit.

Orientation culminated in the annual TSPA Welcome BBQ on Friday evening in the Middlebush Hall Courtyard.  Additionally, the following Friday, students where able to participate in a trip to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri due to a generous donation to the Truman School’s Student Experience Fund.  After a tour of the Library and Museum, students participated in the Palestine Simulation at the White House Decision Center.  A blog post written by students can be found on Career Buzz.