University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and her cabinet continue to recognize the exemplary efforts of staff and faculty members from across campus by bestowing the UMSL Hero Award on up to three individuals each month.
This month’s honorees are Shlynda Hudson, undergraduate academic advisor in the College of Business Administration; Mary Bosnick, the associate director of Alumni Engagement; and Dustin Massie, production services manager at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.
Hudson sounds like a pastor uplifting her congregation as she talks about her love of advising students. That is her passion – uplifting and inspiring students and people to realize and act on their talent and potential.
Hudson is aware of her gift, but it took her a while to discover how to apply it. She started as an undecided major, testing out different possibilities before finally decided to pursue a BA in psychology with a minor in information systems from the University of Central Arkansas. It helped her tap into her natural curiosity about people.
“I loved learning about how people think,” Hudson said, recalling why she studied psychology. “That psychology class opened my eyes to understanding people. So I knew I wanted to do something that involves understanding people and the transitions they go through in life.”
She later earned a master’s in college student personnel from Arkansas Tech University. It gave her a way to serve students in higher education.
Hudson came to UMSL three years ago after moving to St. Louis from Arkansas with her family. She was looking for an opportunity in higher education and met with several universities in the area, but UMSL and its students stood out.
“I love the diversity here,” she said. “I also love how the students here seem to be focused. They’re goal-oriented. In the College of Business, students know what they want to do, and I think that’s amazing. I actually admire the students here.”
Receiving the UMSL Hero Award was a complete surprise for Hudson.
“I was without words,” she said. “It was hard to process being so recognized for something that just comes naturally.”
Outside of her role, Hudson also enjoys crafts. One thing she does is create items out of cardboard boxes such as a little house, jewelry boxes or treasure chests. Hudson likes the activity because she enjoys discovering potential.
“I like it because you kind of start with nothing,” she said. “You start with something that has the potential to be something, and you visualize what it can become.”
Her ability to help students in their journey to success is what makes her a stand out to Carla Jordan, director of undergraduate advising in the College of Business Administration.
“Shlynda Hudson is awesome to work with every day,” said Jordan, who nominated Hudson for the Hero Award. “She brings compassion and commitment that is a delight to work with on a daily basis. She demonstrates her work ethic on the MyConnect Student Success Committee, supports her team members and problem solves with the information systems advisees. She goes above and beyond by staying abreast of the latest best practices and asking the most insightful questions that help colleagues and students bring their best selves forward. She is truly an UMSL hero and brings transformative and innovative outcomes within our team, students and campus community.”
Hudson envisions a long future for herself at UMSL and believes her legacy lives through her student advisees.
“What I love most about my role as an academic advisor is getting to know people and seeing their individual stories, understanding where it is that they’re wanting to go and then becoming part of their success,” Hudson said. “I feel like if I’m part of their success story, then I live forever.”
As associate director of alumni engagement, Mary Bosnick considers herself to be an “alumni generalist,” as she engages alumni with a range of events, including reunions, luncheons and commencement, as well as working with them on engagement and alumni committees across colleges at UMSL. She loves her work and the opportunities to observe alumni staying involved with their alma mater.
Though Bosnick is often front and center at events, welcoming alumni and guests and making sure they have a premium experience, she prefers staying behind the scenes. Her reserved nature is what contributed to her surprise learning she’d received an UMSL Hero Award.
“I was like, ‘Is this to me? No way,” Bosnick said. “I didn’t believe it. The person who nominated me is a professor whose work I greatly respect, as well as the way she works with alumni. So the fact it came from her, who I don’t work with directly – that really meant a lot to me.”
Lynn Staley, a teaching professor in the Department of English, was happy to sing Bosnick’s praises in nominating her.
“Mary was a hero to me and to the family of a student who had injured her ankle on her way in to line up for commencement,” Staley said. “The student was barefooted and could no longer wear her very high heels. She was crying and upset, and I wound up giving her my shoes to wear so she could walk across the stage safely and look nice. While she was being assisted, Mary was talking with her family, helping them and keeping them positive about the day. She really took time to connect with them, and then, after the ceremony, found me shoeless in the faculty room and spent valuable time trying to help track down the student so she could get her shoes back and I could get mine back. She saved the day for us and helped all of us as a team create a memorable experience for that flustered student. She also kept me laughing about the whole thing. She is a wonderful asset to UMSL.”
Consistently going above her call of duty, Bosnick naturally takes on these kinds of situations in her role.
Bosnick was no stranger to UMSL, having worked at St. Louis Public Radio for almost 10 years as a development officer of major gifts. She came to the university looking for a shift in her career, which resulted in her working again with her colleague and now manager, Phil Donato, another former St. Public Radio employee.
“I was ready for something different having worked in the same department for so long,” Bosnick said. “Even though I loved our donors at Public Radio, I was ready for something different, and this opportunity came up.”
In her down time, Bosnick enjoys baking, with her specialty being sourdough bread, and spending time with her family, which includes her husband and two children, who are 2 and 5 years old.
Bosnick is very happy with her role and experience at the university and is looking forward to many more years of working with alumni and providing them with great opportunities to remain connected.
Dustin Massie discovered his love of theater and performing when he starred in a commercial while in high school. From that moment, he tapped into his love of acting and creative expression and decided to build his life around it. From high school, to earning a bachelor’s degree in theater from Lindenwood University and a master’s degree in theoretical analysis and design from Regent University, to now running the behind-the-scenes operations at the Touhill, Massie’s love of theater and theater production has come full circle.
Massie is quick to credit the people around him.
“Surround yourself with good people and get out of their way,” Massie said, heralding his team. “I manage resources. I don’t have to manage people very much.”
He trusts his tightly knit team to get the job done and provide performers with everything they can to give audiences the best experience possible.
Massie’s commitment to his role since 2020 plays into his success, which has garnered high praise. Hearing he received the UMSL Hero Award made him “literally speechless.”
“As a performer, one of my specialties is improvisation,” he said. “I’m not short for words. I’ve worked in a lot of places. I’ve worked for several other higher education institutions, and I feel I’ve always done the same or at least similar quality work everywhere and have not had somebody officially recognize that I’ve done a good job. So the recognition was almost like a shock.”
In his personal time, Massie enjoys woodworking and owns a board game company, Sinking Ship Games, which will have one game in a store in Florissant and is also sold online.
His work at the Touhill is sometimes challenging with all the moving pieces of producing shows and events, but the outcomes as well as the people he enjoys working with, make it all worthwhile.
“Being able to work with the professionals that I work with and friends that I work with is really fantastic,” he said. “I get to have a crew that is really the one of the best I’ve ever encountered. They are what make the Touhill as good as it is. I think a lot more people would be really impressed the more they looked into the way things go here. Our clients are always very, very pleased – over the moon with the output of the staff and our productions here.”