Southeast Missouri State University graduate Derrion Henderson hasn’t wasted any time putting his multimedia journalism skills to work in a major media market with FOX2 News, KTVI, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Henderson, a 2015 Southeast graduate, is a news anchor and reporter, covering news in St. Louis and the surrounding area. One of the first students to major in multimedia journalism at Southeast, Henderson landed the position in St. Louis after reporting for two years with KFVS12 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“What I love about my job is the ability to tell someone’s story. Not everyone is as articulate as other people, but that doesn’t mean that their story shouldn’t be told. In my job, I get the ability to tell someone’s story and put it in perspective. I can express their emotion to other people when they can’t find the words to express it themselves. I can come in and shine some light on the issues they are dealing with and help them find solutions. I thrive off of that,” he said.

Henderson began his collegiate career at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis but transferred to Southeast after falling in love with the news industry. The Department of Mass Media’s outstanding accreditation inspired Henderson to transfer. Southeast is one of only two schools in Missouri that hold accreditation from The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

In addition to choosing an accredited, qualified program, Henderson wanted to attend a school where he would be a student instead of a statistic.

“I wanted to have intimate relationships with my professors,” he said. I wanted them to know me on a first name basis, and to get invested in me and my future.”

Henderson believes that his extracurricular involvement enriched his education and expanded his education to include learning outside of the classroom. In addition to his studies in the Department of Mass Media, Henderson was actively involved at Southeast. He was president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, president of Vandiver Hall, and president of the Southeast chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

During his time at Southeast as a multimedia journalism major, he was one of two students who produced the weekly Arrow on the Air news program on RAGE 103.5 FM, a weekly radio report from Southeast’s student newspaper, the Arrow.

After hearing Henderson’s first program, Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, faculty advisor to the Arrow and multimedia journalism coordinator in Southeast’s Department of Mass Media, knew she had heard something special and told him she thought he had found a natural fit for his talent.

“It was here that Derrion found his calling,” she said. “From this point, he began to focus his stories in the broadcast realm, both video and radio, which helped him get an internship in St. Louis, which led to his employment at KFVS12.”

KFVS News Director Roger Seay recalls the contributions Henderson made at KFVS during his work at the Cape Girardeau CBS affiliate from June 2015 to June 2017. His skills and knowledge made a lasting impression on those with whom he worked and interacted.

“His positive attitude and natural inquisition of things around him made him stand out in the world of journalists,” Seay said. “And everyone enjoyed talking to Derrion.  He was able to get an interview on camera from almost anyone.  And reporters will tell you that can be difficult.”

Buck said, “One of his former bosses told me they called him ‘The Guy Who Gets the Interview,’ because Derrion was always able to go into even the least trusting environments and get people to trust him. I think this is just more proof of his professionalism and his passion for storytelling. I’m so happy to see him living his dream.”

Seay added, “His co-workers describe him as passionate and personable.  Viewers can relate to Derrion.  That is why he was successful at KFVS and now at FOX2 in St. Louis.”

Southeast alumnus Derrion Henderson during FOX 2 News’ election night coverage Nov. 6.

Kathy Sweeney, anchor and investigative reporter at KFVS, served as a mentor to Henderson.

“Derrion came into our newsroom with a ton of raw talent. But more importantly, he had a real desire to learn and improve,” she said. “He took every suggestion, every bit of feedback and ran with it.  I told him the sky is really the limit for him and I truly believe that. Like a proud work momma, I can’t wait to see where his talents take him next.”

Working in St. Louis for Fox 2 News has been a rewarding experience for Henderson. As a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor in the top 20 market, Henderson says he has been able to learn and grow in his career. He hopes to one day go national with a cable news television show with a radio show extension, but he is content with reporting in his hometown of St. Louis for the time being.

“I’m letting life take me on a journey to wherever I need to be,” he said.

Henderson advises Southeast students to listen to their hearts, learn from their mistakes, and choose a career that they love.

“It’s not about money – it’s about what makes you happy,” he said. “The goal should be to wake up happy — to get up and do what you love every day.”

The winners of the inaugural Southeast Innovation Challenge were announced at a Common Hour program Nov. 14 hosted in Academic Auditorium by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House.

The winners are:

  • First Place & People’s Choice – Hackapult (Lisa Goette, a graduate student from Aachen, Germany; and Katrien Gillé, an international business graduate student from Kuringen, Belgium)
  • Second Place – Spread Awareness & Create Organization (Jacob Scissors, a sophomore corporate communication major from Chesterfield, Missouri; Quinn Hume, a sophomore social work major from Chesterfield; and Samuel Kehrer, a junior sport management major from Belleville, Illinois)
  • Third Place – Rooftop Community Garden (Goette; Vanessa Pendergrass, a senior interior design major from O’Fallon, Illinois; and Whitney Whiteside, a junior finance major from St. Charles, Missouri)

Hackapult was a proposal whereby Catapult Creative House would host a hackathon open to all students once a month in conjunction with local businesses. Participating businesses would present their problem and teams of students would develop innovative solutions.

Spread Awareness & Create Organization was a new method of color coding and organizing Catapult Creative House using a variety of easy to follow color schemes. This would allow incoming students to understand where to find the wide variety of physical and digital assets Catapult has to offer them and how they can interact with them.

Rooftop Community Garden was a proposal for a rooftop garden space designed and operated by students. The garden would be designed by interior design students with horticulture students developing and maintaining the garden area. It would allow students and community members to grow a variety of vegetables and plants as well as act as a unique riverfront viewing spot.

The Southeast Innovation Challenge was open to both undergraduate and graduate students who formed teams to research and propose an innovative program, initiative or service to improve the student experience in a meaningful way. This year’s students were challenged with providing new and innovative ways to enhance and use Catapult Creative House. A panel of University professionals judged the 16 submissions based on how impactful, innovative and feasible the idea was, along with the diversity of majors on the team. The top three teams presented their ideas and answered questions from the audience at the beginning of the program.

The program’s keynote speaker was Robin Cole, a Southeast Missouri State University alumnus and president of The Rite Group. After working three decades on Wall Street specializing in the taxable bond markets and advising large U.S. financial institutions, he returned to the Midwest fifteen years ago to expand his family’s information technology services business – The Rite Group. As Cole described his experiences throughout his career and on Wall Street, he stressed the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship while sharing experiences and examples of sustainable competitive advantages.

The program was held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), one week each November where thousands of entrepreneurial events and competitions take place in 160 countries. The next Southeast Innovation Challenge will take place during GEW 2019.

Southeast student Aaron Wendel is presented the Rising Star Award from (right to left) current PRSASTL President Paul Murphy-Spooner, PRSASTL immediate past president Sandi Straetker, and Tressa Robbins, Southeast PRSSA chapter professional advisor and vice president of client onboarding an implementation at BurrellesLuce.

Southeast Missouri State University senior Aaron Wendel was recently honored with the Rising Star Award from the St. Louis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) during its St. Louis ImPRessions Awards ceremony Nov. 15.

Wendel is the first student to receive this new award, established to recognize a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) member in the St. Louis region who’s achieved early career successes, demonstrates outstanding leadership potential, possesses an enthusiasm for the future of public relations and is actively involved in the St. Louis community.

“It was a great honor to even be considered for the Rising Star Award, so to have actually won is an incredible feeling,” Wendel said. “I have always tried to set myself apart in whatever I do, and it feels great to know people have taken notice. This award means a lot to me because, as I start my career, it has given me the opportunity to make connections with professionals in the industry. Also, the award comes with a $115 scholarship for a PRSA associate membership with PRSA National and the PRSA St. Louis Chapter, which will allow me to continue to make connections and develop professionally.”

Wendel, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is a mass communication major with an option in public relations. He was nominated for the PRSA Rising Star award by Southeast PRSSA chapter faculty adviser Dr. Susan Gonders, professor of mass media at Southeast, and professional advisor Tressa Robbins, vice president of client onboarding an implementation at BurrellesLuce.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to see a soon-to-be fellow Southeast alum win the PR Rising Star Award – especially in its inaugural year,” Robbins said. “Aaron has taken every opportunity to work, gain a range of experience through multiple internships, as well as professional development opportunities – all while paying his way through school. I’m beaming with pride!”

Gonders agreed, adding, “Aaron has been a leader who has opened doors for other students. He is a leader who inspires others to rise to higher levels.”

Southeast senior Aaron Wendel with Tressa Robbins, Southeast PRSSA chapter professional advisor and vice president of client onboarding an implementation at BurrellesLuce, at the St. Louis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) St. Louis ImPRessions Awards ceremony.

Wendel has been actively involved in the field of public relations throughout his time at Southeast. He has served as a public relations intern for the Optum Marketing Group in St. Louis, a public relations and marketing intern for the Saint Francis Healthcare System in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and a member of the marketing and sales street team for carGO Technologies.

Additionally, he is a copywriter and social media coordinator for Riverfront PR, Southeast’s student public relations firm, and social media coordinator for Southeast’s club baseball team.

He is also the vice president of finance for Southeast’s PRSSA chapter. He has attended two regional and one national PRSSA conferences, and was a participant in Southeast’s 2018 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) program.

Wendel, who graduates this December, hopes to pursue a career with a public relations agency.

“I chose to pursue a career in public relations because I found a passion for sharing stories, connecting with people and the challenge of adapting to a constantly changing industry,” he said.

The education he has received at Southeast has helped to prepare him for a career, Wendel said. His experiences with faculty and the Department of Mass Media have been the highlights of his time at the University.

“I chose Southeast because Cape Girardeau is my hometown, and the Department of Mass Media is second to none,” he said. “Dr. Susan Gonders and Dr. Sarah Cavanah have provided me with a fantastic foundation of knowledge and set me up for success in the exciting, challenging public relations industry.”

#20 Southeast Missouri (8-3) will host #15 Stony Brook (7-4) in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division I Football Championship. SEMO will host a playoff game for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 24. The game will air live on ESPN3 from Houck Field at 1:05 p.m., CT.

Southeast Missouri will host No. 15 Stony Brook (7-4) in the first round at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN3. The winner of that game will advance to play No. 2 national seed Weber State (9-2) on Saturday, December 1. Weber State shared the Big Sky Championship with Eastern Washington and UC Davis this season.

SEMO makes its second playoff appearance in school history and first since 2010. That year, the Redhawks won the OVC Championship and earned the OVC’s automatic bid and would go on to play eventual National Champion Eastern Washington.

The Redhawks entered this year’s 24-team bracket as an at-large selection joining automatic qualifier Jacksonville State out of the Ohio Valley Conference. JSU also plays a first round game Saturday.

This year marks the sixth of an expanded 24-team field playoff field. In 2010 the FCS Playoffs expanded from 16 teams to 20 teams, the first expansion since the field grew from 12 to 16 teams in 1997. The OVC has placed multiple teams in the playoffs (which began in 1978) in 22 of the 41 years; the OVC has now had multiple teams in the field in six of the last nine and eight of the last 13 years.

This year the top eight seeds received byes to the second round while the first round features 16 teams in eight total matchups. The first round of the playoffs will be played on Nov. 24, with the second round taking place on December 1. For the ninth-straight year the championship game will be played in Frisco, Texas at Toyota Stadium. The Southland Conference will serve as the host of the championship, which will be held on Saturday, January 5.

This season the Redhawks ended JSU’s OVC record 36-game conference winning streak earlier and won six of seven games entering the playoffs.  SEMO is ranked 20th in the latest STATS Top 25 poll and ranks first nationally in turnover margin (+2.09/game), turnovers gained (31), passes intercepted (21) and fewest fumbles lost (1). The team also ranks ninth nationally in scoring offense (39.2 points/game).

For ticket information for the Nov. 24 FCS playoff game, visit here.



“Christmas Jukebox” presented by the Department of Music and The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

It’s the season for merry-making with Southeast’s Christmas Jukebox. Celebrate with a jazzy program performed by Southeast’s Studio Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Lab Band and featuring students in Southeast’s vocal performance and musical theatre programs.

“Just think ‘big band swing’ with classic tunes–like a jazz radio station during the holiday season,” said Joshua Harvey, an instructor of musical theatre.

The inaugural concert gives students the opportunity to sing with a big band and celebrate the holidays with the community. The performances will include music and acting. The instrumental ensembles collaborate with a choir and soloists to provide a variety of spirited entertainment. This year’s songs include “Carol of the Bells,” “Santa Baby” and “White Christmas,” among many others.

The variety of style within the program is sure to provide an entertaining evening full of holiday cheer.

“We’re greeting the season with swinging holiday classics in a big band, family friendly, Yule fest,” said Bart Williams, assistant professor of theatre. “The program offers a chance for families and friends to come together and get into the spirit.”


Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University is seeking volunteers to help as it hosts the sixth annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition Dec. 8 in the University Center.

The competition is for 4th to 8th grade students who will participate in teams. Students build a robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to complete a themed mission for points. This year, the FLL competition will have an Into Orbit challenge as its mission, transporting teams into space to explore, challenge, and innovate in the vast expanse of space and solve a real-world problem. To learn more about this year’s program, visit

Volunteers are needed on the day of the event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone 16 or older is welcome to help. Little training is required, and most will be done the day of the event. In exchange for time, volunteers will be provided breakfast and lunch.

Volunteers can sign up at . Volunteers who have an account, can sign in with their account information. If not, they can click “Register” in the upper right corner or the “Sign Up Here” option below the log in button. After a volunteer account is created, volunteers should verify their personal information and follow the “Volunteer Registration” option in the main dashboard and then select “volunteer at an event.” Volunteers should select the role in which they are interested.

Volunteers also are asked to complete a Youth Protection form. Those volunteering can select to pay later when signing up for the event, and FLL will cover that cost. Volunteers will receive an email confirming their completion of the Youth Protection application and another one once a background check has been completed.

For more information, contact Brad Deken at or (573) 651-2106.

Faculty and staff are invited to participate in brand ambassador training with Ologie, the firm that helped launch Southeast’s “Will to Do” brand platform. Representatives will be on campus Dec. 12 and 13 to guide the University through an updated refresh of the brand as we embrace a new academic structure, a new scholarship program and new leadership throughout the University.

Southeast engaged Ologie to create and successfully launch a new brand that captured the grit and tenacity of our students and community in 2014. As we evolve, so should our messaging to connect with prospective students, families, and employers in a competitive higher education marketplace.

Ologie will lead brand discussions in several open sessions on campus to help us leverage our institutional strengths and better share Southeast’s messages on academic quality, affordability, and career-readiness/graduate outcomes.

Two open sessions will be held Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom A. Another session will be held on Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. in the University Center Ballroom A. Anyone interested in hearing more about the brand “refresh” or learning how to apply the brand from your particular area is encouraged to attend.

Register to attend a training session.

For additional information or questions, contact Tonya Wells in University Marketing at




Southeast Missouri State University invites its students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff to support a project and help fill a need by participating in “SEMO Giving Day,” Nov. 27, in an effort to fund 12 projects that directly benefit students.

“SEMO Giving Day” recognizes the spirit of #GivingTuesday, a day of giving during the holiday season that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is the third year Southeast has participated in this initiative.

On Nov. 27, the University will launch a one-day campaign via social media (#SEMOGivesBack), email, phone and campus events inviting participants to help raise funds for 12 projects on campus. As one Southeast community, donors can make a difference across campus, to help meet multiple needs and support student success.

Donors can give online at Annual Fund student representatives from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation will be calling alumni and friends throughout the day and will also be on campus at the University Center from 2-4 p.m. to collect donations. Students who donate during this time will be entered into a giveaway to win pizza with Southeast President Carlos Vargas.

Fund a STEM student’s research

This year’s projects include:

  • Fund a STEM student’s research: The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has outstanding students working with faculty on undergraduate research projects who are invited to present their work at conferences. The desire is to establish a fund to help support these students’ out- of-pocket expenses in presenting their research, especially those students with financial hardships. The funding goal for this project is $1,000.

    Fund a STEM student’s research

  • Kent Library – Special Collections and Archives: Special Collections and Archives in Kent Library teaches using rare books and manuscripts from the Rare Book Room collection. Due to age and condition, many of the rare books and manuscripts are fragile. To safely display and teach with these materials, professional standards require the use of a book mount or book pillow, of which the library currently only has two. Six additional book mounts are requested to allow teaching a full class while preserving and protecting these invaluable, rare books and manuscripts during hands-on classes. The funding goal for this project is $1,484.18.

    Fund a debate tournament

  • Fund a debate tournament: Southeast’s Debate Team is the current three-time defending National Intercollegiate Debate Champion.  In addition, the University is developing and plans to host an invitational high school debate tournament. This will provide an excellent student recruitment opportunity for Southeast as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of the University’s debate profile. The funding goal for this project is $2,000.
  • Fund an experiential learning lab for business students:

    Fund an experiential learning lab for business students

    For a number of years, Harrison College of Business and Computing (HCBC) student organizations have been reaching out to fellow student colleagues to create a warm and welcoming environment. A new Experiential Learning Lab is soon to be created in Dempster Hall which will provide hands-on learning opportunities in various disciplines at HCBC. Funds are being sought to develop an area nearby for members of student organizations across HCBC to gather in a casual environment, interact with club members from other disciplines, and connect with non-member HCBC students. This hospitality area will encourage a more inclusive, interdisciplinary, collaborative and creative atmosphere for HCBC students. The funding goal for this project is $1,200.

    Suit up a Student

  • Suit up a Student: The Office of Career Services works with Southeast students throughout their education to prepare them for life after college. Without incurring short-term debt, students still struggle with the costs associated with purchasing proper business attire necessary to be successful in interviews and professional. The Office of Career Services would like to help students with the cost of their “hire attire” purchases by offering Suit-Yourself Scholarships. These funds will be able to supplement the cost of business clothing. The funding goal for this project is $625.

    Help stock the athletic Nutrition Center

  • Help stock the athletic Nutrition Center: The Holcomb Success Center houses a Nutrition Center for student-athletes to provide them with healthy snacks when their training and conditioning schedules conflict with meal times. Southeast Athletics seeks support for a one-month supply of eggs for student athletes for the Nutrition Center. The funding goal for this project is $500.


  • Institutional Equity and Diversity Fund:

    Institutional Equity and Diversity Fund

    The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity seeks support to establish a fund to provide financial support for student professional development opportunities (i.e.  funding for a polytechnic student to attend the National Society of Black Engineers annual conference), for campus and community-wide programming (i.e. provided funding for multiple campus events held during Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, PRIDE, and Women’s History Month), and for other equity-related programming initiatives, including a training for faculty and staff with a nationally-known diversity educator on cultural competency. The funding goal for this project is $1,000.

    3D printing filament recycler for the EDvolution Center

  • 3D printing filament recycler for the EDvolution Center: 3D printing has revolutionized the way Southeast faculty and students introduce concepts, describe objects and convey ideas. The EDvolution Center aims to minimize waste by investing in a 3D printing filament recycler. The recycler can grind unsuccessful 3D printed objects into reusable pellets. Students can return prints, and the material can be recycled directly into even more 3D prints at a lower cost. The Center, in turn, can then continue to provide 3D printing at no charge to students. The funding goal for this project is $1,700.

    Help the music ensembles travel

  • Help the music ensembles travel: Travel opportunities for music ensembles to perform regionally at professional educator conferences provide students with performance experience as well as with experience managing the logistical, marketing and technological requirements surrounding a performance. The funding goal for this project is $1,400.


  • Fund the “We Are One” Scholarship

    Fund the “We Are One” Scholarship: The “We Are One” Scholarship is created and funded by alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students of Southeast. Because of the generosity of these donors, two need-based scholarships have been endowed. These scholarships have gone on to support students who have financial need. Many of these students may not have been able to complete their education without these funds. Raised funds will help more students with financial need. The funding goal for this project is $1,000.

    Help the gum tree tell its story

  • Help the gum tree tell its story: A plaque is needed near the University’s beloved gum tree so campus visitors understand the sticky, icky tradition and to honor the history of this campus icon. The funding goal for this project is $500.
  • KRCU needs power: KRCU provides numerous experiential learning opportunities for Southeast students as well as top quality music and programming for the southeast Missouri region. The station will soon need to replace both the current uninterruptible power supplies in operation.

    KRCU needs power

    During a power outage, these units keep critical components powered until the generator at Serena Building gets up to full power. KRCU’s stream, studio transmitter link, audio switchers and automation computer server are powered by these units. The funding goal for this project is $1,447.50.

Offices will be closed and classes will not be in session as Southeast Missouri State University observes fall break and the Thanksgiving holiday.

Classes will not be in session Nov. 19-23.  University offices will be closed from noon on Wednesday, Nov. 21, through 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.

Classes will resume and offices will reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 26.

Due to inclement winter weather conditions, Southeast Missouri State University’s main campus, River Campus and regional campuses in Sikeston and Kennett are operating on a delayed start today, Nov. 15, and classes will begin and the campuses will open at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, visit