After earning her associate’s degree from North Central Missouri College (NCMC) in Trenton, Mo., Carli Carmack joined the Office of Sponsored Programs at the University of Missouri as an office support assistant.
That was nearly nine years ago. Carmack has worked her way up in the office, and now serves as an administrative team lead. While Carmack said she loves her job in the Office of Sponsored Programs, her passion for sports has always been in the back of her mind. Carmack played softball at NCMC and has always enjoyed athletics.
She decided that going back to school and getting a degree in hospitality management could help her toward her goal of eventually working in the sports industry.
“It means the world to me to have the opportunities that I’ve had at Mizzou,” Carmack said. “I’ve been able to further myself professionally and personally. Being a Mizzou graduate means so much more because of my years of service as an employee. I’ve already applied to the Mizzou Alumni Association. I’m excited to give back for what the university has done for me.
“I’ve always wanted to go back and earn my four-year degree as well. No one in my family has received a four-year degree, so it’s a big deal for me and my family.”
Carmack grew up in Brunswick, Mo., and her family moved when she was 16 years old to Hallsville, Mo., where she still resides.
Carmack said the decision to go back to pursue her bachelor’s degree was made easier by the support she received from her family, as well as her boss, Craig David, director of sponsored programs and acting associate vice chancellor for Research S&T.
“Craig has always been super supportive of me going back and getting a degree,” Carmack said. “His encouragement really pushed me in a positive direction, and his willingness to work with my schedule meant the world.”
Carmack began her coursework in 2019, signing up for online classes in the hospitality management program. She kept her full-time job in the Office of Sponsored Programs as well.
“I think I took one online class at NCMC, and things have obviously evolved so much since that time,” Carmack said. “The faculty in hospitality management, and throughout Mizzou, made it a flawless process. Everything was very organized and that made it easier to complete assignments.”
Carmack said that having the option of taking classes completely online was huge for her schedule.
“I couldn’t have finished this degree if it was in-seat,” Carmack said. “Along with working full time, I work as an alderwoman for the city of Hallsville. My husband and I also have a son, and he definitely keeps us busy. It’s been a lot of late nights, but it’s totally been worth it.”
Being back in a learning setting was a definite change for Carmack. She said being a little more mature did help throughout her studies.
“It’s funny because I wanted to get 100 percent on everything, and I wasn’t like that as a college athlete,” Carmack said. “I made great grades, but it was never to the level I pushed myself now, as a full-time mom, student and worker. Even with all of that going on, I still expected to get 100 percent. Maturity definitely played a big role. Honestly, if you would have asked me if I could do what I’m doing now a few years ago, I would have said there’s no way. It was a lot of time, but it’s been so worth it.”
Carmack picked a dual emphasis of sport venue management and conference and event planning within the hospitality management degree program. It was an area that she already has experience in through her job in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
“One of my roles in our office is organizing events, which is something I really love to do,” Carmack said. “I’ve organized all of the fundraising events and our various team-building events.
“I also really just enjoy working with people. That’s my nature – I take great pleasure in being able to serve people and support what they’re doing.”
Carmack has been completing an internship with Mizzou Athletics since the beginning of the year, too, working on the event management side.
“Doing the internship with Mizzou Athletics has been an amazing experience,” Carmack said. “The work has obviously been great, but I’ve also had a good time working with the students as well. For some of them, this internship is their first foray into the work world. I’ve worked several jobs, so it’s kind of fun to chat through our different experiences.”
Carmack will graduate Magna Cum Laude from Mizzou. After graduation, Carmack plans to stay in her current job with the Office of Sponsored Programs. She is hoping to continue to volunteer with the athletics department at MU, too.
“For individuals in my situation, there’s no time like now to go back, especially with all opportunities out there,” Carmack said. “Mizzou offers in-seat, hybrid and online courses. There’s really a little bit of everything. If I would have waited, I don’t think I would have been as successful.”