The First Word: Meleah Spencer

Meleah Spencer '97 is Director of Annual Giving and Interim Director of Alumni Relations.

Who remembers Connect Four, that yellow plastic grid that came with red and black chips, and the winner was the first one to connect four in a row? In my childhood, I had the large clunky version. In my teen years I upgraded to the travel-size game that kept my friends and me occupied on long road trips, and nowadays I can pass time playing Connect Four on my smart phone. When asked to write about alumni connections, I immediately thought of this game and the many ways I connect with Drury alumni as the interim Director of Alumni Relations while continuing to lead The Drury Fund.

I never thought that I would return to my alma mater as an employee, but a series of four connections brought me back to the Office of Alumni and Development. Five years ago, I returned to Missouri after a 10-year stay on the West Coast. Ready to be closer to my family and our farm, I packed up, moved back and started the job hunt. Just a week into my search, I heard about a program called Drury to Drury for alumni networking. Rick Fay '77 serves on a community board with my mother, and he suggested I attend to reconnect with Drury. Connection #1.

I registered for the event and was ready to find out if I might know anyone at the networking meeting. I discovered the location of Trustee Science Center, walked into Reed Auditorium and was surprised to see my Orientation Leader from freshman year, Darin Wedgeworth '95, welcoming me to Drury to Drury. Connection #2.

During the introductions, I saw many faces that I remembered from my college days. Liesa Rowen Keck '87 was someone I always looked up to as a student because of our involvement with Potpourri of Dance under the direction of Joyce Roberts '83, Drury dance instructor/choreographer. I shared that I had recently relocated to the area and was looking for my next career opportunity. Susan Kirby '70, then director of alumni relations, mentioned an opening in Alumni and Development. Connection #3.

I submitted my résumé and prepared for the group interview where I once again saw Susan Kirby, who also served as Drury Ambassador advisor when I was a student member, and Dr. Krystal McCulloch '82. The interview was a success, and I received the phone call that afternoon with a job offer as the director of annual giving. Connection #4.

Now five years later, I feel lucky to be able to give students and alumni the same thing that was given to me: an opportunity to connect with other Drury alumni. Whether a current student is looking for a mentor, a recent graduate is looking for a job, or an alumnus is relocating to an unknown area and would like to see a familiar Drury face, I help make the connections. I invite you to join us at Drury to Drury (currently held in Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas), at an alumni event in your area, or back on campus during reunion and homecoming weekends. Join us, reconnect and help Drury alumni make winning connections.

If you would like to receive more information about Drury Alumni events, please contact Meleah at (417) 873-7444 or