Thirty-three Missouri Southern students were recently initiated into the Golden Crest Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa – the National Leadership Honor Society.

Alongside them, ODK also welcomed five members of the university’s faculty and staff, noting the high praise that came from those who nominated them.

“ODK recently changed their national constitution and bylaws to change the faculty category to specifically say faculty and staff,” said Dr. Michael Garoutte, a faculty advisor to the MSSU circle.

“It was founded on the idea of collegiality between students and faculty. As faculty and staff members retire or leave the institution, we need to build that sense of collegiality back. It’s great to be able to honor them in this way and hope they will participate in the future.”

This year’s faculty and staff initiates are:

Stephanie Hopkins, director of the Student Success Center

“Stephanie is very active on both the campus and national level. She serves as coordinator of the CAS assessment and works with both faculty and staff in a variety of positions. She has also served in leadership roles and presented at the national level for several different organizations.”

Christy Phillips, administrative assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs

“A song title from the movie ‘Beaches’ comes to mind – ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings.’ There is a long list of faculty and administrators dedicated to sustaining ODK at Missouri Southern who deserve our deepest gratitude. There is one person who has quietly been a source of invaluable support from the inception of ODK on our campus whose commitment has not wavered … I would suggest that the wind beneath our wings for ODK at Missouri Southern has been, and is, Christy Phillips.”

Dr. Jency Sundararajan, associate professor of physics

“Though most people find physics to be a daunting subject, Dr. Jency always makes it fun. She serves as the co-advisor for the Society of Physics, Chemistry Club and Women in Science. She is one of the kindest people you will meet and will happily tell you that she is doing what she loves every day.”

Dr. Shayna Burchett, assistant professor of chemistry

“Dr. Burchett makes Organic Chemistry so exciting that her students cannot help but love it … Her passion for science always shines through in her daily life, and it is that passion that ignites so many others to get excited about science as well.”

Dr. Alla Barry, associate professor of biology

“Aside from her extensive knowledge of anatomy, she is so much more than just a professor … She is easily one of the most impassioned people on the campus of MSSU, and this is proven every time she lectures, where you can feel the love she has for her subject.”