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Finding the Right Path

Residence hall experience provides path to leadership

Published Nov. 24, 2015
Story by Christine Jackson

Steven Chaffin at Monticello

Steven Chaffin visited Monticello in Virginia during a trip for the MU Kinder Forum. Photo courtesy of Steven Chaffin.

When Steven Chaffin was a student at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, he wasn’t particularly involved. He was a member of the student newspaper staff, but didn’t hold any leadership positions beyond that. Once he came to Mizzou, that all changed.

Chaffin’s first foray into the realm of student leadership was an unsuccessful campaign for residence hall president as a freshman. While that didn’t work, he joined the Residence Hall Association and began his climb up the ladder of campus involvement.

“Then things just took on a life of their own,” says Chaffin, a senior political science major from Maryland Heights, Missouri. “I just kept seizing every opportunity that came to me and it became a trend. I kept getting involved in more and more things.”

Now legislative director for the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, Chaffin’s latest opportunity was his selection as the recipient of the Donald F. Graham Leadership Scholarship, which is awarded to “students who have made significant contributions to their residence halls. The award also is based on campus involvement.”

In a letter recommending Chaffin for the scholarship, Luke Gorham, Residential Life leadership and educational resources adviser, wrote, "The phrase 'servant leader' comes to mind when I think of Steven and all he has accomplished on campus. He is genuine in his leadership style and always has the needs of other students in mind.”

Chaffin says the scholarship will help him continue pursuing his education and the type of leadership that the award promotes. Without scholarships, he says, it would be impossible for him to make the necessary time for involvement on campus.

Chaffin is looking toward graduate school and a career working with a think tank to improve educational policy for students with special needs. After that, leadership may be in his future yet again.

“If certain things align, I’ll maybe take the things that I’ve learned and the connections that I’ve made by working for a think tank and run for office,” he says.

Published by the Division of Student Affairs, 211 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6776 | Fax: 573-882-0158 | E-mail:

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Last updated: Aug. 15, 2017