The Student Success Sequence: Finding Your People

Maddie Reiser
A Stamps Scholar, Maddie Reiser has been involved in a variety of organizations and internships while at Mizzou. She is a senior political science major who is also minoring in business. Photo courtesy of Maddie Reiser.

If you are one of the thousands of University of Missouri students from out-of-state, the struggle of being away from home for the first time is all too familiar. For others, building a community far away from old friends and family is a daunting enough task that they decide to not leave their home state.

Maddie Reiser, a Mizzou senior majoring in political science and minoring in business, is about as far from home as you can get. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, at the age of 10 Reiser and her family moved to Pleasant Plains, Illinois. From the moment she entered school, Reiser’s parents pushed her to be involved.

“I was really involved in my high school. It was a small high school, so it was easy to be involved in a lot of things,” said Reiser. “I played volleyball, both club and in schools. That was kind of like my biggest hobby. I did things like student council, National Honor Society, Beta Club, which are service oriented.”

Reiser’s high school success stuck with her as she transitioned to college life. Just as she managed to stay involved in high school, Reiser continued her involvement at the college level. But this time, Reiser’s involvement took on a whole new meaning.

“I’m a campus tour guide and then I also work at the Writing Center. And I also do undergrad research,” said Reiser. “It’s all kind of a stepping-stone process; (high school) involvement helped me get involved at Mizzou, which is now helping me apply to law schools and fellowships.”

Transitioning to college is hard enough during a normal year. But for the thousands of students like Reiser who began their college experience during the pandemic, the college transition had entirely new challenges. Reiser credits her high level of involvement with getting her through that difficult time.

Maddie Reiser
Overall, the Stamps Scholars Program has been a vitally important experience for Reiser. In addition to paying for her education, the Stamps Scholars program gave Reiser yet another community which she could turn to during times of need. Photo courtesy of Maddie Reiser.

“My freshman year we weren’t allowed guests in the dorms, Mark Twain specifically. We weren’t allowed to keep doors open. Everyone was a little bit hesitant to go and talk to people because of COVID. It was a very isolating first semester,” Reiser said. “I really like to meet new people and to talk to people, and so when all of that was taken away it was really hard to be at Mizzou. And then I joined Tour Team, and it opened up this entire support system.”

Reiser and the rest of Mizzou would eventually make it through the pandemic, and be forced to plan ahead for the future. Since she began studying political science, Reiser has wanted to become a lawyer. Just as she was involved throughout her education, Reiser has pursued internships at the International Bar Association in Washington, D.C., to advance her career.

Reiser is also one of the small number of Stamps Scholars at Mizzou. Stamps Scholars receive a four-year full scholarship to Mizzou, and enrichment fund for educational expenses, a dedicated mentor, and access to a variety of alumni and networking events each semester. Admission to the Stamps Scholars program also comes with a research placement, which Reiser has taken full advantage of.

During her undergraduate research, Reiser began working in the English department, but after a change in majors she settled on research in the Truman School of Government and Public Affairs with Heather Ba, an assistant professor. Together, they research the nominations made by the executive branch, and what sometimes stops them from being confirmed.

Overall, the Stamps Scholars Program has been a vitally important experience for Reiser. In addition to paying for her education, the Stamps Scholars program gave Reiser yet another community which she could turn to during times of need.

“(Stamps Scholars) were the sole reason that I was able to stay at Mizzou (during COVID),” said Reiser. “They were five other people that I knew, and that were willing to hang out with me, and that I had a class with, and all of that stuff that was huge through the Honors College.”

Whether it’s high school, college, or her career, Reiser has been in the thick of it all. From a young age, her parents instilled a method of finding success in her that has, and will continue, to propel her to the top of her pursuits. The method is one we can all follow: get involved.

“The stuff that I was involved in in high school was the reason that I was able to get the scholarships that I have at Mizzou, and it definitely influenced me to apply to the Honors College,” said Reiser. “(Being involved) also gave me my best friends who are still my best friends to this day. It gave me my own place, my own safe space at Mizzou, and I still feel that way.”