Eboni Valentine’s education at UMSL continues to support career development

by | Jul 17, 2023

Valentine works as an executive assistant and marketing and communications coordinator in the College of Business Administration while pursuing her MBA.
Young Black woman sits on couch in a black suit looking up at the camera.

Eboni Valentine began as a student at UMSL, where she is now continuing her career and furthering her education as she pursues an MBA. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

When Eboni Valentine started out as a freshman at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, she had no idea she’d also be starting a career. She currently works in the College of Business Administration as an executive assistant and marketing and communications coordinator, where she assists Interim Dean Michael Elliott and provides communications for the department. She is also pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in marketing and a certificate in digital and social media marketing.

Valentine’s ongoing connection to UMSL has been fostered by professors who believed in her potential.

After graduating from Gateway STEM High School, where she’d been majoring in computer science, Valentine wanted to attend a historically black institution but tuition was a concern when considering leaving Missouri. She decided to enroll in UMSL for its affordability and quality of education and chose media studies as her major. She had no idea she’d remain connected to UMSL for years to come.

Valentine had always been curious about marketing but never fully explored the profession. After taking an Introduction to Advertising class in her freshman year, she was certain she’d made the right decision.

“I’ve always had a small interest in marketing,” Valentine said. “Just seeing how brands really think about the target audience and things like that, I felt it was fascinating. So, I continued with that program and actually got my certificate in advertising because I enjoyed it so much.”

One experience at UMSL that excited Valentine was participating in the National Student Advertising competition in Kansas City after completing her capstone course. It allowed her to break out of her shell to do public speaking and present the project on behalf of her group. Valentine’s professor, Dennis Ganahl, helped her through the competition and later, another assisted her in getting an internship with a local television station.

Valentine wanted experience in video production, and Kerry Manderbach, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Communication and Media, recommended her to the station manager at STL TV, a local access channel. While working part-time as administrative assistant in the College of Nursing, she took the internship where she gained skills behind the camera and assisted show guests.

“I learned a lot about video production,” she said. “They let me do some live camera work on the shows and a lot of post-editing. I think that’s how I really got interested in editing. I also prepped the guests when they were getting on live TV, just helping them with different hand signals that we might show them to stretch or when we’re about to cut. I thought that was really fun to see TV behind the scenes.”

The internship was so enjoyable that Valentine continued to work at the station after graduating in 2018. Assistance from UMSL faculty members continued with Perry Drake, an associate teaching professor and chair of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, playing an integral role in helping her secure her first job.

Her first role after graduating was at Elasticity, a marketing agency to which Drake referred her. She worked as a social media manager for several clients.

Drake reappeared in her life several years later and asked her if she was interested in going back to school to get her master’s degree while working as his graduate assistant. It was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“In 2021, he reached out and said, ‘Hey, I have an opening for a graduate assistant. If you would like to get your master’s, I would love for you to come back and work with me,’” Valentine said. “I said, ‘This is the opportunity I said I would take if it ever came about and here it is.’ I did not hesitate at all. I said, ‘I want to do it.’”

Drake remembers Valentine’s success in the role.

“As an undergrad, Eboni was the quiet one sitting in class just absorbing everything,” Drake said. “I could see the wheels turning in her head. That is what I look for in new grad assistants, that untapped potential – the hunger for more. I pushed her to move outside her comfort zone as my grad assistant for the social media class. She flourished. I’m sure she’ll become a force to reckon with in the field of digital marketing communications. It was a joy to see her take the lead and push herself to new limits.”

Perry also suggested Valentine apply for her current role in the College of Business Administration, where she now works for Elliott. He’s found her to be a valuable addition to the team.

“Eboni Valentine has been a tremendous asset to the College of Business Administration,” Elliott said. “She makes a positive impact on everything she touches. As our first communications manager, she has redesigned our website, organized our social media sites and facilitated major college events. Her favorite thing to do is create videos that show the UMSL Business experience.  She really makes our college come alive.”

Valentine had no idea that choosing UMSL would not only lead to an education at the school but also a career. Her history with the university so far has been a series of people recognizing her talent and helping her secure opportunities.

Looking ahead, Valentine is unclear about her aspirations but knows it will involve UMSL professionally and possibly academically for the foreseeable future.

“I’m still gonna work at the university after graduation,” she said. “But I’m really trying to decide if I want to go back for maybe an EdD to get a doctoral degree. So I’m thinking about that, and I would still do that at UMSL. I just like the academics here, the faculty support that’s here. When I’m struggling in a class, especially in my MBA program, I can just go and talk to professors. They’re super open and nice.”

Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd