From English Major to University Leader: Lola Mauer

LolaLola Mauer, the Director of Annual Giving at Ball State, is one of us.

And you can meet her on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 in 310 Student Center at 2 PM during Career Week.

She’s been working in higher ed fundraising since graduating with an undergraduate degree in English in 1998. She spent five years working at Ball State (earning an MA in Creative Writing along the way) before leaving to head up the annual giving program at the University of South Carolina.

She was a Gamecock for seven years, won ten awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for fundraising (young alumni giving, direct mail, employee giving campaign and student philanthropy education).

In 2011, she moved to Dallas where she worked as a consultant. She had multiple university clients around the country and helped them with strategy in alumni outreach and giving.

She returned to Ball State in 2013 to serve as the Director of Annual Giving. And boy are we glad.

She speaks at national conferences on a variety of subjects related to higher ed fundraising and has written for CASE Currents magazine.

In her spare time, Lola also serves as a youth advisor for junior high and high school aged students here in Muncie and is secretary of the board for Friends of the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

  • Capitalize on your talents and combine that with what you love.
  • Be sure to have a plan.
  • Write every day.
  • Travel the world (or at least the states) to gain experiences that expand your horizons and help you write what you know.
  • You will be gifted with the advantage of flexibility and a skill set that can be used in almost any career.

Don’t convince yourself, or allow others to tell you, that an English degree limits you to only working as a teacher, professor, or author. 

So: how did your English major lead to your career? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

I made the switch from Telecommunications to English during my junior year at Ball State with grand visions of teaching at the college level. I can say with confidence I chose a major that challenged me intellectually and provided me with the written and oral skills to communicate effectively. English gave me critical thinking, a yearning for discovery, and a clear means of articulating myself.

Flipping my major and minor was a great investment, and, yes, I graduated on time.

I worked in University Advancement during my undergraduate years and it was then that I realized my passion for fundraising in the higher education sector. While working for my alma mater I pursued a master’s in English with a focus on creative writing.

You wrote historical fiction about Little Big Horn for your master’s thesis. That must have led to your work with the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument?

montana-013

Lola in Montana at the Little Big Horn battlefield.

Writing the stories was a wonderful experience and enabled me to bring new life to the characters of the famed battle.  My goal was to tell the story of these men in perhaps a way that has been overlooked.

We like how pursuing that degree allowed you to find a professional niche–perhaps one you couldn’t have imagined when you began!

At times I felt like I was standing at the end of a path, staring at two roads – one led to a potential Ph.D and the other took me deeper into the advancement world.

The possibility of being a professor still appealed to me, yet it wasn’t until I taught as part of the national recognized University 101 program at the University of South Carolina that I knew I’d be taking the other fork in the road. Teaching one of the core classes was a wonderful experience, but my heart was elsewhere.

My English degree played an integral role in my professional development in a number of ways.

  • I now find myself using the very degree Ball State bestowed upon me in order to help advance my alma mater.
  • The writing and proofreading skills I honed as an English major benefit me every single day, whether I am drafting a solicitation appeal, leading a presentation, or simply typing emails and university correspondence.
  • I have traveled the country speaking at professional conferences on the subject of best practices in annual giving as related to employee campaigns, young alumni strategies, direct mail and more.
  • I’ve networked with amazing individuals at universities across the country and in the UK.
  • CASE Currents magazine has also asked me to write for them on two occasions pertaining to phon-a-thon/student callers.
  • I work in an industry that is always seeking experienced fundraisers; I can literally join a team at a college or university of my choosing should they have the perfect fit for me.
  • My degrees in English have given me a particular advantage both professionally and personally.

I feel good about the academic path I chose years ago. The possibilities are endless.

Thank you, Lola!

Connect with Lola on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Again, she’ll be speaking on Friday along with alums Christopher Newgent and J.R. Jamison.

 

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