“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain


The President’s Leadership Academy provides a professional learning experience for students who have demonstrated a desire and commitment to improving their community.


The President’s Leadership Academy (PLA) is a selective program for 15-20 of Southeast’s most outstanding upper-class student leaders. Through PLA, participants learn to use their leadership expertise to make a difference within their community. The Fall 2016 PLA class will learn about major campus priorities in the 2017 academic year. The Southeast Success project will focus on opportunities for the student body to have a meaningful and sustainable influence on these goals.

Students will be challenged to draw upon the principals of University Studies they have learned in the classroom – critical thinking, effective communication, making informed and intelligent value decisions, and functioning responsibly in their natural, social and political environment – as they develop their Southeast Success Project.


Participants will…

  • learn and understand their personal leadership style and the styles of others
  • increase their awareness of the University’s goals and the complexities involved in meeting these goals at Southeast and throughout postsecondary education.
  • understand how to apply leadership competencies to enhance their competitiveness for employment as early career professionals
  • become responsible leaders within their respective university communities
2016 PLA CLASS Major Hometown
Rane Belling Communication Studies Edwardsville, IL
Elizabeth Chism Athletic Training Fults, IL
Megan Chisum Psychology Chaffee, MO
Kirk Comstock Computer Systems Sikeston, MO
Sarah Ellis Exceptional Child Education O’Fallon, MO
Megan Goessling Public Relations Waterloo, IL
Kara Hartnett Journalism and Global Studies Metamora, IL
Duane Jones Family Studies Hannibal, MO
Mahala Landeros Wildlife Conservation Sullivan, MO
Cassandra Mick Psychology Goodlettsville, TN
Karli Reynolds Business Management Troy, MO
Sydney Rodgers Public Relations St. Louis, MO
Bhanu Sehgal Accounting and Finance New Delhi, India
Abigail Scrogum Biological Sciences Kingdom City, MO
Sierra Sweeney Nursing Cape Girardeau, MO
Destiny Tulo-Lang Biological Sciences Herrin, IL
Shelbey Walker Animal Science Albion, IL
Daniel (DJ) White Economics and Criminology Festus, MO
Chester Williams Finance St. Louis, MO


PLA was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Learning how to be a positive leader and then passing those skills on to younger generations will forever be the most fulfilling opportunity of my Southeast experience.

      -Mary Bauer (Woman of the Year finalist, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Alpha Chi Omega)

PLA was a great opportunity to get hands-on leadership experience. The Southeast Success Project gave our group a unique chance to identify a need in the community, create a vision, and take all the necessary steps to accomplish our goal. If you're an involved student looking for something new, or if you simply have a desire to develop yourself as a leader, you should apply for PLA.

      -Benny Dorris (former Lambda Chi Alpha President, Student Government President, Emerging Leaders Graduate)

Through PLA I’ve further developed my leadership skills and learned even more from not only the program but my peers as well. The greatest leadership lesson I learned throughout my life is to never stop developing and PLA gave me an opportunity to continue that.

      -Allen Rice (Emerging Leaders Graduate and Facilitator, New Student Programs Orientation Leader)

Application Process

Students for the fall 2016 class have been selected.

To apply for PLA, a student must be nominated by a faculty or staff member. Staff/faculty members will receiving information about the nomination process in February 2017. Each student that is nominated will be sent more information including application procedures.

For more information, please e-mail leadership@semo.edu or call (573) 651-2280.

PLA- Southeast Success Project

The Southeast Success Project is the capstone and most exciting portion of the course. As an individual or in a group, each participant will develop a project proposal. From these proposals, one to two projects will be selected and funded for the entire group to complete as a team(s). Maximum combined funding for projects will be $1,000 for all expenses. Selected projects will be assigned a mentor to help guide the project.

Project topics should meet one of the following institutional priorities:

  1. Adopting an Educational Philosophy of Comprehensive Internationalization
  2. Implementing the Diversity Education Task Force Recommendations
  3. Increasing the First-Time, Full-Time Student Retention Rate to 80%

Student success projects could include anything that would benefit the campus or community and aligns with the institutional priorities listed above - whatever motivates you! Here are a few examples that fit within each category: advising, mentorship, feedback, financial support, and interdisciplinary approaches. You may choose to propose a project that helps Southeast students engage with their community (i.e. Camp Redhawk, Student Involvement Ambassadors, Transitions Academy) or improves student learning through co-curricular activities (i.e. PLA, learning communities) or supports students financially (i.e. on-campus employment, student emergency fund).

When deciding on a project to propose, consider the following:

  • Is there a true need for the project?
  • What are the benefits to those involved?
  • What solutions can you offer to help your chosen population or cause?
  • Will this project be able to be planned and executed within the Fall semester?
  • What resources are needed? Man power, money, buy-in from fellow students or faculty?
  • Budget
    • Will you be able to complete the project with just PLA funds or will you require additional funding?
    • If so, where and how will you acquire the additional funds?
  • Is there research or evidence that offers solutions or previous experiences with your project?
  • Will you need additional support to complete the project besides your fellow PLA students, your mentor and/or the Campus Life staff?

Past Projects Include:

  • Fall into Big Brothers, Big Sisters- PLA students saw a need to help match more children in need with “bigs” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The group planned and executed a fall carnival including games, food, face painting, activities and more, and invited both current littles and bigs, but they also recruited dozens of new SEMO students to be bigs. The most exciting part? The help BBBS achieve their highest number of bigs signing up at one time EVER!
  • Light of Leadership- PLA students developed a presentation about leadership, service and involvement to give at various local schools. The participants tailored each presentation to fit the needs of the students in the audience (they presented to 3rd graders, Jr. High students, and a senior graduating class). The young students had the opportunity to talk about what leadership and service means to them and they got to hear from college-aged role models about how to be a leader NOW.
  • Elect to Go Green- PLA students created a week of activities to help the environment and convince students to “go green”. Activities/events included recycle basketball (with prizes!), a huge trash heap to show just a percentage of our daily waste, removing trays from the UC for a day and more.


University Center 414

One University Plaza, MS1250
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701