Marketing seniors Sam Craig and Gabrielle Mennemeier become first MDMC scholars

by | Nov 26, 2018

The new $2,500 scholarship from the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference is exclusively offered to UMSL marketing students.
Sam Craig (left) and Gabrielle Mennemeier

UMSL marketing students Sam Craig (left) and Gabrielle Mennemeier received $2,500 scholarships from the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As one of nine children, Gabrielle Mennemeier had long aspired to graduate from college debt-free. For the first three years, it seemed like a realistic possibility. But as she prepared for her final semester at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, she wasn’t certain that dream was achievable.

The College of Business Administration student began looking for options and came across a scholarship she heard about in one of her classes that was exclusively available to UMSL marketing students.

Mennemeier wasn’t confident she would receive the newly established award but figured she might as well apply. Within a few weeks, she was glad she took the chance.

“I think a lot of us with scholarships can feel like we’re never going to be the one to get it, so why even apply?” she said. “But then I saw an email in my inbox saying that I had a $2,500 scholarship coming my way. That made it so I could say, ‘OK, I can do this. I can graduate debt-free.’ You never realize how much your hard work is paying off until later on. This has definitely been like a big testament to that. My hard work is paying off, and I’m getting something out of it.”

Mennemeier and fellow marketing student Sam Craig are the first recipients of an endowed scholarship offered by UMSL’s Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, an annual event that attracted nearly 2,000 marketers last year. The program’s founder and Assistant Teaching Professor Perry Drake helped establish the scholarship with surplus funds from MDMC.

“I felt like giving back to the students was the right thing to do,” Drake said. “Maybe it will cycle back one of these days and Gabrielle or Sam will be a keynote speaker on stage at MDMC. It would be cool to see it come full circle.”

Drake has taught both Mennemeier and Craig in his digital marketing classes and was excited to see the students become the original MDMC scholars.

“Gabby caught my attention right away,” Drake said. “She was at every class right in the front and always attentive. You could tell she was just soaking it in. And then she volunteered at MDMC and was just a dream.

“Sam caught my attention in the ‘Digital Strategies’ class. He was a student that was taking things seriously. Then I actually invited him to be my teaching assistant for a class I taught this summer in Germany. He did a phenomenal job. How could I not push him forward for the scholarship?”

Craig is thankful for Drake’s encouragement. Prior to the Germany trip, he had limited video editing experience. But when Drake asked him to help with the video elements of the summer course, Craig eagerly agreed.

“I found that the best way to grow connections with people is when they ask for something, say yes,” Craig said. “I spent the next few months on YouTube learning how to edit videos. I got pretty good at it. I was able to teach students in Germany, and I was able to make a job at my company out of it.”

Craig started interning at Werremeyer Creative, a marketing agency based in Webster Groves, in 2017 and recently accepted a position to start full time after graduating in December.

His responsibilities at the company have evolved as he has expanded his skill set. Craig began at Werremeyer Creative in a research role, looking for ways that the agency could expand its business. He then moved into copywriting and editing before taking over client social media curation and video production.

He hopes to keep adding to his portfolio by returning to UMSL as an MBA student.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming into UMSL. But once I got into the swing of things on campus, I found that making friends is easy and making connections with faculty is easy,” Craig said. “I feel like most people here are really accessible. I’ve loved my time at UMSL, which is why I’m looking to continue in grad school.”

Mennemeier will also graduate in December and plans to help her sister expand an essential oils business while looking for additional professional opportunities. No matter where she ends up, she’s happy to have a variety of marketing experiences to guide her.

“As for what my future holds, no matter what I do, whether I own my own company or work for someone else the rest of my life, I want to make an impact,” Mennemeier said. “Marketing makes me feel like I am making that impact.”

Sara Bell

Sara Bell