Student leader named 2016 Newman Civic Fellow
Like many college students, Dan Mueller stands at a crossroads where he must choose a path forward at the University of Missouri–St. Louis that best reflects his personal interests while also allowing him to build a marketable skill set.
Although Mueller could see himself as a police officer, politician or accountant, community leadership will remain a constant for his professional and personal growth.
“Developing your character in every way is a big part of studying at a liberal arts university,” said the Pierre Laclede Honors College sophomore. “Serving your community and meeting people is one of the best ways to develop different facets of your character. Learning how to do a little bit of service for other people can get you pretty far in life.”
Making the most of his roles in UMSL Student Government Association, Sigma Pi, the Emerging Leaders program and the Pierre Laclede Honors College Association, Mueller has participated in the Altruistic Campus Experience project and the Big Event, among other community outreach programs.
He has planted flowers at the Early Childhood Center, cleaned up abandoned properties in Jennings alongside the police department and mediated relations between students, faculty and staff.
Campus Compact has recognized his years of community service and honored him with the Newman Civic Fellows Award, a national accolade that encourages undergraduate and graduate students who have taken action in pursuit of long-term social change.
“Getting the award was a complete surprise,” said Mueller. “I opened my email, and there it was.”
Mueller’s achievement was no surprise to Jenna Bartak, coordinator of the Emerging Leaders program in the Office of Student Life.
“Dan is an exceptionally charismatic individual who became highly involved on campus right away,” she said. “He has already become a strong leader within the UMSL student body, and I know that he will continue to grow as a leader and influence other students to become connected on campus.”
Mueller attributes his leadership success to a keen focus on listening skills.
“The best way I find to relate to people is to just listen to them. If you sit down and have a conversation with someone you never met before, you can learn so much,” he said. “We’re all humans. We all have the same basic tendencies. If you compare someone else’s story to your own, the circumstances might be different, but you’ll find the emotions and the reasoning are generally the same. This way you can build common ground.”
By facilitating understanding between himself and others, Mueller is able to lead by example.
“If I want to influence others to come and spend time at a service event, I’ll tell them, ‘Hey, I’m rolling up my sleeves, too,’” he said. “’You should come out with me and lend a hand.’ And next thing you know, you’ve got a big group of friends having fun cleaning up.”
For next semester, Mueller is considering changing his major from criminology to accounting as he weighs whether he can do more good through community policing or fundraising efforts. Either way, his contributions to his community will continue.
“I think there will always be a way for you to give, whether it’s through philanthropy or hours or raising awareness for a cause,” he said.
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=62247