Story by Erik Potter

Students from more than 150 organizations stood on Kuhlman Court Wednesday for the 2018 Get Involved Fair. They were handing out candy and cups of coffee, playing chess and slapping swords, and generally showcasing the opportunity to learn, contribute and connect through their various clubs and organizations.

The Naturelles

Members of The Naturelles, Mizzou’s all-women’s a cappella group, are interested in having fun, keeping music in their lives and, of course, sounding good.

And they do sound good.

Last year they were the Midwest quarterfinals champion in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition.

The group features bass, alto, mezzo soprano and soprano. They are currently looking for someone to perform beatbox. The group is diverse in its interests — only one member is a music major — but they find connection through their music, which often fits around themes of women empowerment.

“I’ve been singing in choirs since I was a kid,” says Mikaela Ashley, a sophomore from Chicago studying strategic communication. “Singing feels like home in a way, so this group was a way to bring that with me to college.”

The group was holding auditions later that night, Sept. 5. They take on three to five new members each year in a competitive process. Email naturellesmusic@gmail.com for information.

Mizzou Club Fencing

Zach Robinson was a freshman from Las Vegas, wandering through his first Get Involved Fair when he saw the booth for Mizzou Club Fencing. “That looks interesting,” he thought. Three years later, he’s the one sitting behind the club’s table, talking to new students about the fun and camaraderie of fencing.

Sitting next to him is Lorenzo Mortelli, a senior from Kansas City. “We’re a loose conglomeration of sword enthusiasts,” he explains. “We like to get together and stab each other for sport.”

Mortelli fenced some as a child but gave it up when his instructor moved away. “Once I got to Mizzou and had a little free time, I looked it up and, what do you know, we had a club for it.

Most of the groups members joined as complete beginners. They practice twice a week at MizzouRec. The biggest thing to learn, Mortelli says, is footwork. I cant tell you how many times Ive fallen on my face because I tripped over my feet.

Fair warning: A knowledge of actual swordplay can ruin the Hollywood version of it.Theyre mostly just swinging at each others swords, Mortelli says, dismissively. Real fencing is more about maintaining proper distance than sweeping, sensational slashes. One movie that holds up for Mortelli, though, is The Princess Bride.

Its not what got me into fencing, but its what keeps me going,” he says.“Who wouldn’t want to be the Dread Pirate Roberts?”

Gamma Iota Sigma

Olivia Yuhas and Ryan Knapp stand behind a table on Kuhlman Court. The table is draped with a black tablecloth with the name of their fraternity. Yuhas' dog, Star, sits on the table while she pets him.
Olivia Yuhas and Ryan Knapp use Star, Yuhas’ friendly pug, to recruit new members to Gamma Iota Sigma at the Get Involved Fair. Photo by Katrina Boles

Olivia Yuhas wanted huge recruitment results from today’s Get Involved Fair, so she pulled out the big guns: her 7-year-old pug, Star.

While students stopped to coo at Star, Yuhas and Ryan Knapp, a junior actuarial sciences major from St. Louis, told them about Gamma Iota Sigma, an international risk management, insurance and actuarial sciences fraternity.

The group does a lot of professional development, brings in speakers and attends conferences. “The international conference was huge for me,” says Yuhas, a senior from St. Louis. “I got a lot of connections out of it and an internship out of it.”

Yuhas interned with a company in Dallas that is a broker of reinsurance, a kind of insurance for insurance companies.

While such a group might seem to appeal to a niche audience, Yuhas, who founded the chapter during her freshman year, says it has a lot to offer students with interests in many fields, including business, sales, management and human resources.

National Association of Black Journalists

Autumn Black sits behind a fold-up table. A poster with photos of NABJ activities is in the foreground.
Autumn Black recruits new members to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Photo by Katrina Boles

Before she even got to Mizzou, Autumn Black had already been encouraged to join the National Association of Black Journalists. When she attended a recruitment event her freshman year, she was sold. “I was drawn by the energy of the older kids, the passion they had for journalism,” the junior from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, says.

The group has assisted her as a student and a budding professional. Her mentor in the club has helped her manage her time so that she can balance her studies and her extracurricular activities, and the conferences they attend have given her connections at CNN, Buzzfeed and other news outlets.

As a junior, Black is starting her journalism coursework in earnest. The demands are high. Coming into the year, she had also committed herself to several executive board positions in clubs shes involved in. Over the summer, her mentor, who knew how rigorous the classes would be, suggested to Black that she drop one of her positions.

It was a hard decision, but it was to my benefit, she says.