The College is administered by a professional staff who are engaged in both academic and management affairs. Their years of experience in their roles varies widely, but collectively they present a carefully constructed team of professionals who are dedicated to the success of our students.
Dr. J.D. Bowers came to the Honors College in August 2015. He is an award-winning teacher and mentor, with nine years of Honors teaching and administration experience and over twenty-five years in secondary and higher education, who is passionate about making sure that honors students at MU succeed in their academic and co-curricular pursuits.
He holds a Ph.D. and MA in history from Indiana University and a BA in government from The College of William & Mary in Virginia, is a 2005 recipient of a Fulbright Teaching Award, the recipient of two awards for outstanding international teaching, and also received an award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
In addition to his role as director of MU’s Honors College, Dr. Bowers holds an adjunct teaching position in the Harry S. Truman Graduate School of Public Affairs and is a faculty affiliate in the Black Studies Department.
He maintains an active scholarly career, leading study abroad programs, teaching courses, and conducting research. Over the past four years he has led a program of students, in partnership with The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Den Haag, Nederlands), in an examination of the dimensions of post-genocide justice and conflict resolution, has taught numerous Honors Tutorials, and teaches an undergraduate survey course on genocide. He is currently working on a book manuscript exploring the last fifty years of the unresolved Cyprus conflict as well as several articles on the religious and cultural dimensions of post-genocide justice.
Prior to coming to MU he was the Associate Vice Provost for University Honors, taught Genocide Studies, and was also the director of the Genocide and Human Rights Institute, at Northern Illinois University.
Dr. Bowers is excited to be living in Columbia with his wife, Dr. Kristy Wilson Bowers, a visiting professor in History, and their two daughters, and to be a part of the Mizzou family!
Megan Boyer originally from Jefferson City, Missouri received her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas and majored in English. She has been with the Honors College since 2005, first as an Advisor and now as Assistant Director. Passionate about working with students, Megan earned her Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Central Missouri State University. After leaving CMSU, Megan worked as a Residence Hall Coordinator at Mizzou for two years. Megan’s two major hobbies are film photography and performing as a blues vocalist with the Megan Boyer Band. Megan advises students with last names A-L.
Kristina Bradley is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and attended MU, with a double major in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. As an undergraduate, Kristina was a student in the Honors College and actively involved on campus. After working in Undergraduate Admissions, she continued her education at MU, receiving a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Career Psychology and Development. With a passion for student affairs, she has gained experience working in the MU Career Center, Residential Life, Graduate Student Services, and with high-achieving students in the MU Fellowships Office. Kristina is the newest member of the Honors College advising team, and advises general Honors students with last names M-Z.
MedOpp Program Manager and Chief Health Professions Advisor
Susan Geisert is originally from Kearney, Nebraska. She received her B.S. degree in Journalism—News Editorial and her M.S. degree in Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University. Susan worked as an Academic Advisor for the School of Journalism at OSU for 15 years before moving to Columbia. Susan now advises Pre-Health Professions students with last names M-Z.
Associate Health Professions Advisor
Darcy Holtgrave completed a B.A. in English from Eastern Illinois University, an M.F.A. in Poetry from George Mason University, and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Missouri. Her research interests include health belief systems, narrative theory, and online communities; a portion of her dissertation research, an exploration of YouTube vlogs about bipolar disorder, appears in the edited volume Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Disability, Health, and Trauma. In her spare time, Darcy enjoys taking classes at the Craft Studio and punching trees in Minecraft.
Humanities Series Coordinator
A winner of the William T. Kemper Award, a Purple Chalk Award, and a WI Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching, Dr. Rachel Harper has taught at MU since 1996 and in the Honors College Humanities Series since 1998. She hopes no one does the math and figures out how old she really is. She also feels awkward writing about herself in the third person. [Forges ahead anyway] Dr. Harper is the current Director of MU’s Writing Center and the Coordinator of the Honors Humanities Series.
Originally from Champaign, Illinois, Dr. Harper holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Missouri and a B.A. in English and Spanish from Illinois Wesleyan University. She teaches all four semesters of the Honors Humanities Series and regularly lectures on Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Melville’s Benito Cereno in the third semester of the series. She also teaches an honors writing intensive course every semester on “The Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing,” which all undergraduates must take before being considered for a position as a writing tutor.
Currently, she is working on a critical edition of Jean Kenyon Mackenzie’s 1928 novella The Trader’s Wife and various articles related to tutoring writing and teaching, including ones on applying acting theory to tutoring with Dr. Greg Foster and on the ending of Don Quixote that was inspired by her teaching in the Humanities Series.
When she’s not doing all of the above or serving on a million committees, she’s chasing her three small children. And drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Aleesha Coke is originally from Southwest Missouri but likes to hail from Kansas City. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from William Jewell College, and a Master of Business Administration degree from William Woods University. Although her undergraduate degree suggests she is a literary connoisseur, she secretly just loves to read trashy romance novels. Her dream job is to be a best-selling author living on a beach in Hawaii. Aleesha has worked in higher education at several different institutions for over ten years in a variety of positions ranging from admissions to student advising. She came to the MU Honors College in December 2014. She now coordinates the Missouri Scholars Academy, as well as prospective student visits for the Honors College.
Neima Shahdadi is originally from Jefferson City, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from MU in 2007 and joined the Honors College staff in November of 2015. Neima coordinates prospective student visits, processes applications, plans events, and works with Dr. Bowers on various tasks and projects. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two-year-old daughter, reading, cooking, watching films and television, running, and occasionally writing.
Emily Hannemann is a current freshman at MU and is majoring in Journalism. In the future she hopes to work in corporate communications or to write for a magazine. In her free time, Emily enjoys running, swimming, reading and writing articles.
Eleanor Hasenbeck is from Piedmont, Missouri. Eleanor is studying Journalism and Anthropology. After Mizzou, Eleanor hopes to work closely with Latin American culture within a government agency or as a foreign correspondent. Eleanor enjoys spending time outdoors, comedy, and consuming copious amounts of spaghetti.
Jackie Olson is a rising junior undergraduate studying journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications. She is working on two minors, one in Business and one in Leadership and Public Service. In addition to working for the Honors College, she works as the Communications Intern for the University Relations Department of the University of Missouri System. She is an active member of the Alpha Mu chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is also president and a competing varsity member of the University of Missouri Rowing Club.
Cole Young is currently a Sophomore majoring in Social Work and minoring in Leadership & Public Service and Women & Gender Studies. He is very involved in the LGBT community, where he is on staff at the LGBT Resource center, does OUTReach Panels and co-leads a club for Trans+ students on campus. Cole is a site leader for a MAB spring break trip.
Bailey Sampson hails from Springfield, Missouri. She is an Honors College student working toward a degree in journalism at MU. An avid lover of words, Bailey is excited for her journey as a Mizzou student while pursuing her many interests, including painting, graphic design, and writing.