For the new Mizzou Alumni Association president, it’s payback time.
Giving back to MU has been a theme running through Tracey Mershon’s life. Since her student days, the incoming Mizzou Alumni Association president has witnessed and lived out several brands of alumni generosity toward her alma mater.
As an undergraduate, Mershon, BJ ’85, worked for the Student Foundation, a fundraising program in which students phoned alumni to solicit donations for scholarships. Toiling in the basement of the former alumni center on the grounds of the A.L. Gustin Golf Course, she and other student volunteers set a high bar.
“We gave ourselves an unheard of goal of raising $80,000. It was nerve-racking making calls down in that basement every night. We always worried that we wouldn’t reach our target. But in the end, we raised $115,000.” During the two years she was involved, the program raised approximately $250,000.
Mershon, a longtime Lee’s Summit, Mo., resident, is a partner at Mershon & McDonald, a public relations consulting firm. So, in 2000, it was a natural that her first volunteer task for MU was to help the Kansas City chapter publicize Tiger Ball, its annual scholarship fundraising gala. And she had a ball in the process. “I decided, this is kind of fun, and I started meeting more people and reconnecting to Mizzou.”
By 2005, Mershon’s colleagues were encouraging her to take on more responsible positions in the association. One of her favorite projects has been in the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, which she led in 2007-08. But what has meant the most is mentoring students. In 2011-12, she worked with Kate McIntyre, a Californian who came to MU for graduate studies in journalism. During Mershon’s visits to Columbia, the pair would meet for coffee and conversation, where Mershon provided support and insight on career questions. At other times McIntyre contacted Mershon when she needed advice about a challenge at school or work.
“Just knowing a more seasoned person to talk with can make a difference,” Mershon says. “Having this sort of relationship strengthens the feeling that I’m doing something to help someone else.”