Story by Marcus Wilkins

Taken from a second-story vantage point, the image shows columns of folding tables set up in the Student Center, with students sitting at them and walking between them. Light pours in at an angle from the wall-length windows.
Involvement Fair at the MU Student Center on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Sustainability, self-defense, swashbuckling … slithering? An entire galaxy of interests — some quirkier than others — were represented Thursday at the Get Involved Fair in the MU Student Center. More than 65 of Mizzou’s 500-plus student organizations were on hand to show, tell and recruit new members for the spring semester and beyond.

Hannah Straatmann holds a python.
Hannah Straatmann handles a ball python while recruiting people to join the University of Missouri Herpetological Society during the Involvement Fair. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

“Everyone likes dogs and cats, or lions and zebras, but no one is really seeing reptiles out there as they exist,” says Shianna Huang, a senior animal science major with a python coiled around her left hand while she pets a bearded dragon with her right. Huang is the president of the Mizzou Herpetological Society, a reptile and amphibian enthusiast club affiliated with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources but open to any student.

A few tables down, Autism Speaks is spreading the word about the organization’s upcoming fundraiser walk during Autism Awareness Month in April, an event that raised $5,000 last year. Leah Sanchez, Ally Bentz and Ashley Boone all have family members on the autism spectrum, which motivated them to step up.

“I’m from a small town, and when my cousin was diagnosed we didn’t really know a lot about autism,” says Bentz, a psychology major from Lake Bluff, Illinois. “We’ve grown to love organizations like this that help families get the information and resources they need.”

Around the corner, Fencing Club president and senior math major Lorenzo Mortelli is decked in full uniform and mask. An array of foils (fencing blades) are spread out on the table in front of him along with an invitation that reads “Poke Me.” The occasional passerby stops to take a harmless stab.

“I love the community. All my friends are in [Fencing Club], and pretty much all of the officers of the club are roommates,” Mortelli says. “Joining a club has made me a much more driven person than I might have otherwise been if I would’ve kept to myself.”

Students who want to learn more about Mizzou’s involvement opportunities can contact the Involvement Ambassadors.

Teanna Bass smiles at the camera.

Sweet Satisfaction

Teanna Bass worried she might not make it to graduation. Using her makeup skills and a homemade lamp, she found herself in helping others.

Luke Eaton smiles into the distance.

Shelter From the Storm

Luke Eaton tells the story of his Mizzou Alternative Breaks experience — one of gratitude, service and transformation.

Anna Tarvey smiles

Dairy Expo Exploration

The MU Dairy Club gives students a peek at a vast career field.