Involvement matters

Zariah Faulkner draws on her personal experience to help students find their place at Mizzou.

Zariah Faulkner
Involvement ambassadors such as Zariah Faulkner help students get involved and make the most of their Mizzou experience. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

Involvement ambassador Zariah Faulkner knows first-hand the benefits of getting involved.

Faulkner became an involvement ambassador in fall 2020 so she could help students find involvement opportunities that suit their needs.

She knows what it’s like to feel lost in an unfamiliar environment. Faulkner transferred to MU her sophomore year and felt timid about trying new things.

Faulkner started getting involved herself shortly after transferring. She joined the Mizzou chapter of Desire2Aspire, an organization through which mentors elementary, middle and high school girls.

During her time in Desire2Aspire, Faulkner mentored third graders and taught them lessons on self-empowerment, self-esteem and sisterhood.

One mentee, she recalls, that seemed to hate her inexplicably, despite Faulkner’s best efforts.

“One day, she just broke down and was like, ‘I don’t mean to be mean to you, but I just really like that you care about me. No one cares about me at home,’” said Faulkner, who was touched one of her mentees felt comfortable enough with her to “open up to me and tell me that.”

Looking for your place at Mizzou? Talk to an Involvement Ambassador.

In summer 2019, Faulkner worked as a Summer Welcome leader. “It’s taken very, very seriously,” she said. “You’re a representative of Mizzou.”

Faulkner also took a job at Mort’s that summer. She’s now a supervisor. The job can be tough but she says she’s grown close to the people in Campus Dining Services and enjoys the flexibility of her hours.

Faulkner is also a member of the Intercollegiate Communication Organization of Mizzou (iCOM), a student-run organization that teaches communication majors such as Faulkner what a career in communication entails through lectures, guest speakers and networking opportunities.

“It really pushes the idea that you’re going to graduate, and you need to be prepared for when you graduate,” said Faulkner, who’s lined up an internship for this summer with a company in the water purification industry.

For Faulkner, involvement has meant learning not to underestimate herself and to demonstrate her skills to contacts that matter.

“I love Mizzou, and I personally feel like I have thrived since being here,” she said. “Every involvement opportunity that I’ve had led me to something else.”

“[If you’re not involved,] you won’t have those connections that can help you get this big job,” she said. “It does not hurt you at all to get involved.”