The Student Activities Office was recently filled with hugs, tears and laughter. What started as a blank canvas laid out on a table, quickly filled with messages of good luck.
More than 50 friends and coworkers gathered to celebrate the friendship and service of Emily Bergsieker on March 6.
A slideshow flipped through photos and memories that friends and students shared with Bergsieker. Guests enjoyed light snacks and a cake decorated with, “Goodbye to our Superhero.”
“This is a tough day because Emily has done such an outstanding job and she has taken such a burden away from me, because she does such a good job,” said Beth Rutt, director of Student Activities and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
“It’s hard to find employees who have such loyalty, devotion and passion that Emily has,” Rutt said. “When she works with the students, she models for them the behavior that she expects of them and that, I think, as you can see from the individuals here, speaks volumes.”
Rutt said Bergsieker has worked for her at the university for 10 years — prior to that she worked in the alumni office and in enrollment management — and they’ve been friends for 20 years.
“She’s very reliable. She has great relationships with folks on campus — a great collaborator,” Rutt said. “I’m excited for her that she’s going on a new journey, but she’s going to be sorely missed.”
On March 11, Bergsieker began her position as a field specialist, with the University of Missouri Extension to oversee the 4-H program in Lafayette and Ray counties.
4-H is a program that helps empower kids to be leaders in their lives and communities.
“As a past 4-H member and current volunteer, this opportunity to help continue some of the (long-standing) traditions and grow the community is something I have a strong passion for,” Bergsieker said in a Facebook post.
After being at UCM for nearly 17 years, some might think it’d be difficult to move on, but Bergsieker said she is excited.
“It’s hard because you’ve been at one place for so long and then you leave to go to something new and different, but on the other hand it’s like a new challenge and it’s exciting to go for, hopefully, the next 15 years doing the same thing.”
A lot of the programs and events she has helped plan and host at UCM will be similar to the ones she will oversee with 4-H.
For example, Bergsieker helped plan and execute IMPACT, a freshmen leadership retreat for incoming students.
“Putting on a 4-H camp is very similar to the IMPACT camp — just doing different age activities but the same type of thing,” Bergsieker said.
Taylor Kemna, senior criminal justice major, has worked a few IMPACT retreats for Bergsieker. She has worked in the Student Activities office on different projects for the past three years, as well as homecoming planning and as a Mule Team leader.
When Kemna first began working in the office, she said she didn’t talk to Bergsieker much because she was socially awkward and nervous.
“I was intimidated because she oversaw so much as the assistant director to Student Activities,” Kemna said. “Over time, she has been a really good mentor to me, to help me learn how to be a good leader on campus through all of the programing that she has done.”
Kemna said Bergsieker brought a lot of patience to the office.
“I know it’s not always easy because this was her life, and for a lot of the students, these organizations are a part of their lives,” Kemna said. “So she had a lot of patience for the students who were trying to balance everything.”
Kemna said that Bergsieker taught students lessons that will stay with them beyond college.
“She taught us a lot about organization, taking responsibility and being accountable for the things that we sign up to do, and our duties and responsibilities,” Kemna said.
Kemna is thankful for everything Bergsieker has done for her and her peers.
“I had a lot going on through my three years here and she’s really been a mentor to me and helped me get through a lot,” Kemna said. “I really appreciate everything that she’s done and wish her the best of luck in her new position.”
Kemna and Rutt are two examples of the many lives that Bergsieker has helped for the better.
“You go through life doing a job that you sometimes don’t know if you’re making an impact or not,” Bergsieker said. “So the quotes from the video (slideshow) and that kind of stuff — from people that have left here or current people — just shows that you do make an impact no matter what you’re doing.”
Rutt said she hopes that Bergsieker felt the love and appreciation from all in attendance.
“We want to make sure she understands how much she is appreciated and that she leaves with those good, happy feelings and that once a Mule, she’s always a Mule,” Rutt said.